Aurora Magazine

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Chilling With Nescafé

Nescafé rolls out Pakistan's first AI-generated campaign to promote its chilled coffee range.
Published 04 Jan, 2024 03:28pm

The ready-to-drink (RTD) coffee category recorded revenues of $50.19 million in 2023 which is expected to grow by 15.9% between 2023 and 2027. However, compared to the $4.68 billion generated by the soft drinks category, this figure is relatively low. Nescafé, a brand synonymous with coffee in Pakistan, is trying to change these dynamics, and is currently promoting its chilled coffee range (available in four flavours) through a partially AI-generated campaign (the first of its kind, according to the brand team). 

So far, the campaign has 12 reels, four of which are AI-generated and capitalise on the popularity of several Instagram influencers. The influencers for the AI-generated portion of the campaign include Mahnoor Rahim (make-up and hairstyling enthusiast, and video game screener), Hareem Sultana (artist and animal rights activist), Nayel Wajahat (musician), and Bakhtawar Khan (actor). The campaign shows them taking a gulp of Nescafé chilled coffee to unlock their creativity. Parishae Adnan (fashion designer) and Daniya Kanwal (digital content creator and choreographer) are among the influencers included in the campaign’s non-AI leg, which comprises eight reels.

“We collaborated with content creators because it was an ideal way to reach our target audience – Gen Z. The influencers were chosen based on their skill set and the number of their followers,” explains Hamza Amjad, Associate Creative Director, Red Publicis (Nescafé’s agency). “Young Instagram influencers are the real deal for Gen Z, as celebrities are considered paid actors and using them would mean compromising on authenticity.”

The campaign was launched in October 2023 with the goal of increasing RTD coffee’s overall share of the cold beverages market by increasing awareness of both the category (chilled coffee) and the brand. “We are using Nescafé’s brand equity as a brand synonymous with coffee,” says Mahrah Rizwan, Brand Manager, Nescafé Pakistan. “We have the onus of lifting the category in the market.”

Another goal was to project Nescafé as a lifestyle brand for Gen Z; hence the idea of chilled coffee unlocking one’s inner creativity. “Instagram and TikTok have been trending with cold coffee recipes and we wanted to leverage this sudden popularity and turn coffee into an all-year-round drink,” says Amjad. He adds that the AI element was the “new element used to connect with Gen Z” and that the four flavours were linked to the four creative zones that were popular with Gen Z: music (Latte), gaming (Hazelnut), art (Mocha), and fashion (Salted Caramel).

Chilled coffee was introduced by Nescafé in Pakistan in 2020 in the standard Latte flavour and although the product was doing well within its small customer base, growth was limited. This is why in March 2021, the product was relaunched in two variants – Latte and Mocha – in tetra packs, while PET bottles were launched later the same year. In April 2022, two more variants – Salted Caramel and Hazelnut – were added to the PET range as this format received a better reception. “The PET format did very well with older teens and Gen Z,” says Rizwan. 

According to Nescafé, this was the right time to roll out the campaign as several small cafés have opened up in the metropolitan cities, combined with the entry of international chains Tim Hortons and Second Cup Coffee. Furthermore, in a country dominated by tea consumers, making room for coffee was another goal of the campaign.

“Tea was brought in by the British and for generations it has become ingrained in our culture and so we cannot expect to end this dominance overnight. Even today, coffee has a mere six to seven percent household penetration in summer, and the tea to coffee consumption ratio stands at 100:1. Our objective is to increase coffee consumption and its acceptability by offering other options,” clarifies Zareen Rathor, Executive Creative Director, Red Publicis. “Our target is to convert people in their early college years when a beverage dependency develops and replace tea with chilled coffee for natural stimulation, indulgence and creativity.” 

The campaign can be seen mainly on digital platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and TikTok, as well as in the form of ‘reward ads’ in-game apps (watching the ad rewards you with a new life in the game). The second medium used was OOH to aid visibility. “This generation does not watch TV and does not wait for scheduled programming,” says Rizwan – the reason why TV was not considered as a promotional medium. A supporting medium was a myth-busting series on YouTube which centres on coffee myths such as coffee is a winter drink, causes acne, is not good for health. Each episode is titled according to the conception it debunks; for example, Garmi mein coffee kaun peeta hai?  (Who drinks coffee in the heat?).

The brand discovered that their target demographic is 18 to 24-year-old Gen Zers through consumer research. “This audience is also likely to be from SEC A+ as RTD coffee may not be affordable in the other SECs (as a 220 ml PET bottle is priced at Rs 150) and there is also a general lack of awareness among the other SECs, for whom tea is the go-to hot drink and colas are the cold beverage of choice,” adds Rizwan.

As the campaign is relatively recent, determining its impact may be premature, but according to Rizwan, “Since the introduction of the PET pack, we have seen a massive growth of around 50% in the last two years in an otherwise stagnant category.” According to Rathor, the brand has seen an improvement in summer sales for the first time, although “there is a long way to go.” 

Nescafé has also placed its chilled coffee in hotels, shops and gas station kiosks in northern Pakistan where the number of tourists has surged post-Covid.

Given that Nescafé Iced Coffee competes in the RTD category with carbonated drinks, juices, bottled water, energy drinks, and flavoured milk, Nescafé also launched iced coffee sachets in August 2023, although they are only currently available in the Hazelnut flavour. Other flavours will be introduced soon. Furthermore, new chilled coffee flavours are in the works for next summer. “The coffee flavour palette is very broad worldwide,” says Rizwan, “and we want to bring these flavours to Pakistan. We saw incremental sales when we launched Hazelnut and Salted Caramel – and they did not cannibalise the share of our current flavours. We believe adding new flavours will help us increase our client base.”