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The Creators of Chai Guys Talk About Their Marketing Mix

The Creators of Chai Guys Talk About Their Marketing Mix

Last Updated:  
March 18, 2024
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1) Obviously India sets the agenda when it comes to the Chai movement. What's something that the rest of the world should know about Chai that maybe they don't?

Here’s a little history of the drink:

The origin of Chai is the fusion of two ancient Asian civilisations, dating back around 5000 years. Tea was discovered in China, while in India a drink containing Ayurvedic spices, used to cleanse the body and soul was born under the name “Kadha.” During Britain’s colonisation of India, they smuggled tea into the country from China to try and usurp their monopoly on the world tea trade.

India rejected plain tea, preferring to add spices and milk to it to make it more interesting. And so, the first iterations of Chai were born.

Also, lots of people mistake Chai for a sugary-filled unhealthy drink. This couldn’t be further from the truth! Chai in the way we brew it actually has lots of health benefits from immunity boosting properties to helping your organs function better. Google it!

2) I know you guys have been a mix of retail and DTC. What's your 2023 marketing mix shaping up to look like?

We will expand to new cafe locations across London in 2023. It will be a very important year as we test our new expanded cafe concept which includes more baked goods alongside Chai. The newer locations will be larger which will allow us to create a space and drinking experience from scratch; from each Chai you sip to the cup you hold and table you perch on, it will all be a customized experience that hopefully makes people go “wow”.

At the same time, our DTC offering will grow with more products added to the website from Chai to homeware. Our homeware will make the process of brewing Chai easier and our range of ceramic cups make the perfect drinking vessel. We also aim to become a go-to single origin spice supplier for home cooks across the UK with the launch of our new range. We will advertise across multiple platforms including google, youtube, pinterest, and more to reach new customers.

This year we will also grow our wholesale business as we partner with cafes across the UK to help them switch from Chai latte’s to proper Chai. We’re building an easy-to-use infrastructure for that currently. 2023 sounds busy but we’ve been planning this for a long time so I have high hopes this will all happen.

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3) What inspires you guys?

To create incredible products and experiences that people love. To create a purpose driven brand that brings people from different backgrounds together that can bond over probably the best Chai you can buy!

Externally, we look up to a lot of influential/cool brands in our space. From a customer service, product and design perspective, we look up to "La Cabra", "Dishoom", "Watchhouse" and more! "Grind" have inspired by growing a very solid e-commerce business alongside their physical stores.

All of these brands are growing but still have that sense of being a smaller and familiar brand which is why we sometimes take inspiration from them!

4) What do you look for in an influencer?

Sounds obvious, but authenticity. Some influencers' success can be the product of riding on trends or the algorithm, but nothing beats a personality with a genuine following.

It's similar to our social presence on Instagram. We weren't an overnight success, but people followed us as they saw a compelling business, with a mission and a story.

5) What does Chai pair with best?

Abhilash: Sometimes a biscuit is all you need, but generally I prefer a spiced, savoury pairing. There’s so many options from my childhood. Including, methi Thepla, Tikki Puri or even Dhokla.

Gabriel: A Chai and samosa combo is hard to beat. But on a cold morning, a steaming hot cup of masala Chai paired with a fluffy and fragrant cardamom bun is out-of-this-world good.

6) You guys have such a great product name. Were there any others you left on the cutting room floor?

To be honest, it was always Chai Guys. It just fit the story and had a ring to it.

7) How much does your location matter?

Location is king when it comes to our cafe sites. We purposefully launched in Shoreditch which has a high concentration of well-traveled young people who are open to new products and experiences. Since then we’ve opened in Covent Garden where footfall is also very high.

Our future sites - we’ve got a few in the pipeline - are also in high-footfall areas. Our fulfillment center is also close to our locations so it’s easy to get between each spot. That clustering of locations works well for efficiency and saves on costs. Once we grow our brand more, opening locations off the beaten track might work well as rents are much lower.

8) The million-pound question - what do you know now that you wish you knew when you started?

Patience is key when it comes to expansion. So many opportunities can come your way but not allowing your excitement to overtake your judgment is key. Take the wrapping paper away from each opportunity and analyze it meticulously.

Ask people who have ‘been there and done that. In hindsight, we were lucky not to expand to one location that by chance fell through, because extra due diligence would have ruled it out as a bad spot. It’s okay to take your time when expanding so you get it right the first time.

9) How long until we get some of that Chai goodness

Well, one Founder has American Citizenship (hi), so the U.S. is definitely on the radar! We already send quite a lot of Chai across the pond with the U.S. being our largest e-commerce market outside of the UK.

We’d probably establish an e-commerce base in the U.S first through a partnership and hopefully open a cafe in 2024. New York, we’re coming.

Grow your brand like Chai Guys with Triple Whale

10. Ok, it’s five years from now. What’s going on with your company?

We will grow both our physical and digital presence across the UK and globally over the next five years. Our new stores will be larger and include more freshly baked items alongside Chai.

Each location will be creatively designed and "wow" customers with the vibes we create to the flavor of each product we serve.

Our e-commerce growth will include expanding our Chai range and making the drink more accessible for brewing at home. This will include new homeware products that simplify at-home brewing methods and a custom range of ceramic homeware that complement our Chai.

Overall, we want to pioneer the movement to show the world that authentic Chai is an incredible drink and compete with coffee as people's go-to daily beverage (that isn't water)!

11. What do you think is the most common mistake founders make?

Forging ahead without rethinking assumptions you've already made. I've had to think twice many times about whether a path we've gone down is the right one. Changing your mind doesn't show weakness, it often shows thoughtfulness and a willingness to factor in new information and other opinions.

Another mistake would be focusing too much on your image. Being a founder often means doing unglamorous tasks and nobody is above that. Not doing something because it doesn't conform to your idea of what you think you should be doing is damaging. It also sets a bad example to whomever you work with.

12. Who is your dream brand collaboration?

Humble Crumble! We may be doing a pop-up with them later this month so stay tuned!

13. What is the best advice for maintaining mental health for founders?

Not to get too caught up with setbacks. When you start a business, it's inevitable that things will go wrong and sometimes it feels more personal because you own the entity!

Focus on the lessons you can learn from a setback and then setting a deadline of two days for dwelling, can really help. This is definitely easier said than done but this piece of advice is coming from someone who has had lots of setbacks to practice from!

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