Tata Consumer Products Ltd (TCPL) announced the launch of its American gourmet coffee brand, Eight O’Clock, in the Indian market as a direct-to-consumer (D2C) brand. With this launch, the company is expanding its presence in the premium packaged coffee segment and augmenting its e-commerce capabilities.

Since its acquisition by TCPL 15 years ago, Eight O’Clock Coffee Company Limited operates as an unlisted subsidiary of Tata Coffee Limited. Eight O’Clock is the fourth largest roast and ground coffee brand in the US and is sold across North America and Europe. The gourmet coffee is made using 100% Arabica whole coffee beans in the company’s own facilities in Maryland, US, to ensure a consistent and high-quality roast and taste.

As India is primarily a tea-drinking nation, the country’s coffee culture is still nascent. The market largely comprises instant coffee and filter coffee powders, a segment dominated by Nestlé and a handful of other major players. Leaving behind this crowded segment, TCPL is going after the premium coffee space. Eight O’Clock is yet another of TCPL’s high-end brands, following Starbucks and Sonnets by Tata Coffee, to target discerning urban coffee connoisseurs. According to a recent GlobalData survey, 23% of Indian consumers stated that they buy high-end/premium versions of coffee products+.

Led by its ‘Flavors of America’ range, Eight O’Clock garnered $1m in e-commerce revenues in the US in 2020–2021. In a bid to replicate this successful e-commerce model in India, TCPL will make Eight O’Clock available exclusively through its D2C channel. The product is targeted at the tech-savvy Indian youth who prefer to shop online, particularly since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic. This move comes in the light of TCPL’s share of e-commerce sales soaring by 130% year on year (YOY) in 2020. It also resonates with a GlobalData Q2 2021 survey, wherein 24% of Indian consumers started buying grocery products online and 31% doing so more frequently while 28% continued to do this.

This shift in consumer behaviour during the pandemic is encouraging companies like TCPL to experiment with D2C/online-first brands such as Sonnets by Tata Coffee and Eight O’Clock. The adoption of the D2C model also allows the company to streamline its distribution infrastructure and costs along its value chain. With its premise of authentic American coffee delivered direct to home, Eight O’Clock coffee can gain appeal among sophisticated Indians who are gradually trading up from plain-vanilla coffee powders to more indulgent coffee consumption experiences.

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