Hector Beverages Pvt Ltd was founded in 2010 by former Coca-Cola employees Neeraj Kakkar and Neeraj Biyani. The company makes traditional drinks under the ‘Paper Boat’ brand. The idea behind Paper Boat was to launch traditional home-made drinks which are slowly vanishing from the consumer’s life. The brand is growing rapidly, driven by demand for its drinks such as Aam Panna, Jal Jeera and Jamun Kala Khatta. Hector’s Paper Boat range of drinks currently account for 75% of its sales. Also Paper Boat has triumphed in their use of story-telling to create engaging content that has not just built brand awareness but a special kind of emotional connect and loyalty with its target audience.
Kakkar and Biyani started off the functional drinks business by launching an energy drink, Tzinga. “After almost one year of doing Tzinga, we realized that we were keen to drink aam panna more than anything else. We thought we should launch the drink that we enjoy every day. In 2012 for the first time we started thinking about launching traditional drinks.” says Kakkar. Soon after the c0-founders pooled in resources—Rs2.5 crore in all—to launch packaged traditional drinks under the Paper Boat label.
Hector embarked on its Indian ethnic drinks journey with aamras and jaljeera. The two typically north Indian products were test marketed in Bengaluru as the promoters didn’t want to disturb their sales and marketing team in the north that was busy selling Tzinga. After six-eight months of the launch of Paper Boat, they were told that sales of the product had improved and there was a buzz around the brand. Promptly, Paper Boat was launched in the north, a market which soon saw it becoming bigger than Tzinga. Currently, the company has a total of nine year-round products including flavours such as jamun kala khatta, aamras, aam panna, anar and chilli guava. The seasonal products introduced by the company include Thandai, Serbet-e-khaas, Rose Tamarind and Panakam, among others.
Paper Boat—with its tagline drinks and memories—fitted the bill as the company intended to recreate traditional drinks from old recipes. The communications target was to evoke childhood memories through packaged ethnic Indian drinks. “And the name Paper Boat instantly connects you to your childhood. In fact it connects global kids to their childhood as all children make paper boats and paper planes,” says Biyani. The name was refreshing and it cut the clutter.
Paper Boat’s marketing campaign hinges around nostalgia and simplicity in its storytelling campaign as part of its marketing strategy. The campaign was crafted with a view to target urban India. The geographical target was crafted with a view to reach out to communities that had left their native homes to other parts of the country in pursuit of work and domestic demands. Using poetry instead of lyrical music, the story unfolds through both, visuals and audio. The return to an innocent and naive time that everyone associates with the grand epithet of ‘the good old days’ was re-created through the combination of animation that reminds one of simpler times, and music that matches a quaint, old-worldly charm.
Social Media Engagement
Paper Boat’s social media approach included presence on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube, as their key platforms for sharing stories and interactions with customers. Paper Boat built the Facebook and Twitter page around its brand philosophy, “Life is still Beautiful”. In the process, the dialogue remained alive around nostalgia, memories and elements from one’s childhood that come to mind in reminiscence. Everything from flying kites to catching auto rickshaws, from trying to reach for a jar full of treats atop a high cupboard, to making Paper Boats became a point of conversation. Paper Boat let the boat sail on the waters of nostalgia, encouraging sharing and exchange on bygone eras.
One of the key features of the product itself is the packaging. From both aesthetic and functional perspective the packaging is very unique and appealing to the customer.
Another key strategy of Paper Boat is its customer centricity. By focusing on their brand philosophy rather than on their product itself in their marketing approach, it helped build a more customer centric brand rather than pushing the brand’s agenda. It always helps when a brand can connect to customers and their lives in ways that are meaningful to them and Paper boat has done just that.
Also what went well for Paper Boat is its story telling approach. Paper boat managed to engage its fans and customers to share their childhood stories and moments on social media – allowing them access and relive a piece of their childhood life through these stories. By tapping into these memories and creating interactions online with their customers, it helped build the brand among its audience by making it part of their daily life.
Where do they see the company in 10 years? “Significantly bigger with an international presence,” says Biyani, adding,“Paper Boat continues to surprise me. When we started, we didn’t know that ethnic beverage packaged could be a large market. We identified the need and questioned the fact why it is not there, but we never thought that it is such a large miss in consumer’s mind. That is what continues to surprise me. We can make it really, really big.”