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Rashi Goel

India used to run on tea, now it runs on data

India used to run on tea, now it runs on data
Reading Time: 2 minutes

We can shampoo our hair only a few times a week, add only so much salt to our food, and drink only that many juice tetra packs.

But there is no end to our appetite for tea. The average Indian drinks 375 cups of tea1 in a year!

But the mobile phone has left tea far behind and has become our babysitter, bank, photo album, radio, cinema, employment exchange, and even matchmaker.

While the average Indian consumes 375 cups of tea a year, he watches 394 hours of (Standard Definition-SD) videos2 in a year!

That’s because data has become as affordable and as democratic as tea

In 2001, India had 5 lakh new mobile connections (while new landline connections were 4.9 lakh). In 2023, India has more than 1 billion mobile phone connections.

In The Sachet Economy, we saw that consumer goods remain locked into the magic prices of 1/2/5/10/20, so they balance their profits by offering lesser product quantity.

The consumer tech story is very different because Moore’s law kicks in and each year, the cost of data reduces.

According to Stats of India, the average Indian consumed 115x times more data in 2022, than in 2016 (0.14 GB to 16.4 GB), and paid 1/20th (Rs.200 per GB to Rs.10.9).

Data did not always flow as freely as tea. There was a time when data was hoarded like gold and spent just as frugally- by giving a missed call and waiting for the other person to call back.

Smart marketers used data to lure shoppers.

Talktime in a bottle

After the pesticide controversy, consumers briefly shifted to non-cola soft drinks. One of the more popular non-colas was Sprite. We wanted Sprite to convert this good luck into a leadership advantage.

Sales of seasonal products are perishable. This means if a thirsty shopper picks up a Fanta instead of a Sprite, we lose that sale forever. We needed one idea to get shoppers to pick Sprite over all other thirst quenchers.

So that summer, instead of giving holidays and gaming consoles, we gave free talk time recharge on every bottle of Sprite3.

In that campaign, the Sprite bottle became a ‘talking’ bottle, “Botal bhi kya Bolti Hai?” (How does a bottle talk?).

Needless to say, that summer Sprite talked millions of consumers into buying it over any other drink

Until next time. Thanks for reading.

Sources and footnotes

  1. Source: https://worldpopulationreview.com/country-rankings/tea-consumption-by-country. India consumes 900gm of tea per year per capita. ~2.4gm=1 cup. So 900gm=375 cups per year per person ↩︎
  2. As per statsofindia.com, the average Indian consumes 16.4GB of mobile data per month. Which translates to 196.8GB per year. 1GB means 2 hours of SD video. source: How much is a gigabyte. ↩︎
  3. https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/industry/services/advertising/coca-cola-launches-new-campaign-for-sprite/articleshow/3022535.cms ↩︎