Cup of coffee, and the biscotti.

My follow up post on the cafe scene is now more towards the new age, new world coffee shops. As I was doing a bit of research for this post, I bumped  across this video on Guardian’s website which you might like.

Bluetooth, at Barista

Bluetooth, at Barista

The older world cafes are on the wane. Oh yes, that is a bold statement to make especially with the type of fan following places like India Coffee House (with its many branches), and Koshy’s have. But, they definitely are limited in number and prices at Koshy’s is driving many of the old timers away to other places for meals. The astronomical prices at Koshy’s for rather mediocre food is sending old timers to a place called Sheesh Mahal (across the street) for lunch. And in large numbers. Just coffee can’t possibly sustain a place, when even the coffee is not really that great.

So, where else is the bite coming from? Of course the likes of Cafe Coffee Day (to a super large extent) and Baristas of the world. There are some international chains starting to open up as well, including Costa, Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf, Cafe Pescucci, Gloria Jean’s and making inroads is Starbucks.

Many of the younger (gen X, and gen Y) type of people do not really identify with the older atmosphere anymore. ‘Atmosphere’ to them is quite different. A profession photographer friend in his late 20s (I think) keeps moaning about the torn chairs, old fans at Koshy’s. I crib about lack of ventilation and lack of air-conditioning.

Loyalty card at Barista

Get an instant discount at Barista, if you are a member

The New India, and the super consumerist middle class is looking for something else.  And the faceoff is not just that simple either. The (relatively) newer chains like Barista are offering a different, and richer experience.  Their premier “Creme” cafes serve salads, smoothies, sandwiches, mochachhino and a private(ish) space with cushions and sofas instead of the open plan series of tables under slowly whirring fans. The music caters exactly to people who visit here.  A place where younger people can still hang out with people of the opposite sex (in some amount of privacy) without their parents raising their eyebrows.

The success of the new coffee shop chains reflects the change in social taste, disposable income and social customs. Both Cafe Coffee Day and Barista are rapidly spreading into tier 2 cities, and attract young adults with an aspirational target.  Its working!

Of course, a lot of old India still remains.  Why else would you not be able to find yourself a table at India Coffee House in most of the larger cities during lunch time or tea time. Many of these people are not from the affluent strata of the society, and a large number carry a thick wallet but prefer the old world atmosphere.  It is almost an intellectual ‘vindication’ to be seen at Koshy’s where the intellectuals (or the ones who pose) show up,  and rub shoulders with other professionals, politicians, media folk, authors (some absolute rubbish ones) too. You are not the ‘cultured type’ if Coffee Day is your hang out. If you get the drift.

But besides the new atmosphere, and catering to new tastes there is a lot else which goes for the coffee shop chains.  Many of these places have a wifi hotspot, which encourages people to sit around. Some of these places (as in the picture) have a blue tooth point which sends out messages and coupons. And some of these changes have started a loyalty program. Well done, I would say.  Can you possibly imagine any of that at ICH, Koshy’s or any such place? Probably not!

And there in lies the challenge. It is not very difficult to hold on to the old world charm, by putting one foot into the current and future, is it?


Another Malpractice – Coffee Day this time!

Cofee Day Bill

Coffee Day's malpractice of rounding off to the nearest higher rupee.

It is not an unusual practice for a chain retailer to round off the final purchase amount to do away with handling coins.  All retailers that I have seen so far round to the nearest rupee. Sometimes the retailer makes out, sometimes the consumer makes out and that is quite tolerable. Though technically speaking it would be illegal to round to the nearest higher rupee, because that will mean that the retailer has violated the MRP boundary.

And it is similarly not very uncommon to have your neighborhood non-chain retailer to let go of change always, regardless of whether the its above 50paise or below.

But recently, we found an exception to traditional norms and running an illegal practice. This is India’s largest coffee chain – Coffee Day. Check the picture (badly scanned bill) from one of their outlets in Bangalore. The total amount (pre-rounding off), you will notice was Rs 299.22. However the final amount on the bill is Rs 300.  If rounding off were to happen, you would expect the amount to get rounded off to Rs 299. This sounds outright a malpractice and something illegal to me! What do you think?

Codeshare between full service, and low cost

Many of you have spent considerable amount of your work-life, or otherwise traveling between cities. Over time, you have noticed the advent of bucket shops not only in brick and mortar format, but also on the web. You also have seen the advent of all the travel portals in India. While all this has been happening commercial aviation in India has also moved a distance with two carriers getting acquired by two other full service carriers.

Deccan became Kingfisher Red, and more or less kept its older model, though there are seat numbers allotted, and there is food served during the flight.  Sahara became Jetlite (reminds me somehow of yogurt, but that is a different story), but Jet opened up Jet Konnect as well.  Both in Jetlite as well as in aJet Konnect flight, you will need to purchase food (or bring your own).

jetlite schedule

Jetlite schedule showing 1750 flight, for 11th March 2010(click to see larger image)

My post today is however, about pricing and the way code-shares seem to happen in India. I know of at least one particular flight, because I have flown at least twice on that. This is 1750 service between Delhi and Bangalore, operated by Jetlite as S2  233. This is code shared by Jet Airways too as 9W 7075. Jetlite, on their web site, charges Rs 5379 as the lowest fare. Jetcharges Rs 5529, on their web site for the same fare. And

jet airways fare

Jet Airways schedule showing 1750 flight, for 11th March 2010(click to see larger image)

Cleartrip charges Rs 5470.

I understand the last one.  But, how do the first two fares work?

  • Jetlite is a Jet Airways subsidiary (or not?), and one would expect ticket pricing to be the same.
  • How does a company do a code share between a full-service airline and a low-cost carrier? Are these not two completely different product offerings for the market with different levels of service? If you flew Jet Airways (on one of their regular flights, you would not have to buy food), and if you held status on their JP program, you could go sit in the lounge as well. Jetlite passengers don’t get to use the lounge
Clear trip price

Clear trip schedule showing 1750 flight, for March 11 2010 (click to see larger image)

regardless of their JP status, and they also need to buy food on the plane (if they want that food). Is this a fair trade practice?

  • The Jet Airways price, on their web site, is higher than even the price offered by Cleartrip.

PS: I have cropped and rejoined some of the pictures to show the particular flight, and make the images fit. Images (and data) are have been extracted from the web sites, and are owned by Jet Airways, Jetlite and Cleartrip respectively.

Getting it right – Part II

French loaf pricing

Jumbled up pricing at French Loaf

The last post in the “Getting it right” series was on passing the promotions to the POS. This one is even more basic, and is on basic pricing!

How about getting the basic pricing right?

Here is another one for your amusement. This is at the bakery chain called The French Loaf. They have at least four stores in Bangalore, and may be a few more in other cities. There was a reference to Chennai in a conversation, so maybe a few there too.

We happened to pick a box of cookies (see picture) and asked for some coffee. The box, you will notice mentions that Rs 56 is the price of the item (including all taxes). So far so good. When we received the bill, it mentioned Rs 50 as the price of the item and a 12.5% VAT added. And therein lies the discrepancy. The price of the item (including tax) now was Rs 56.25. A minor difference of 25 paise, no doubt but a discrepancy all the same. Upon asking, the store manager mentioned that the pricing in the POS arrives from the central upload in Chennai (and hence the reference to this city, above) and they can not really do much about this.