More Indians with disposable incomes are consuming lifestyle teas, says Ambarish Ghosh of The Hillcart Tales
A brand descending from more than a century-old lineage, The Hillcart Tales provides a wide range of exquisite yet authentic teas obtained from the gardens of Darjeeling, Assam, Taiwan, and Rwanda.
The Indian domestic tea retail market was valued at Rs 18000 crore in 2015 and is projected to reach Rs 32000-crore mark in 2020. In an email interview with Zee Business Online, Ambarish Ghosh, founder and director of The Hillcart Tales; which has a portfolio of a range of exquisite teas; talked about various aspects of startups in India and the tea industry. Here are edited excerpts:
What is the market size for tea in India?
The Indian domestic tea retail market was valued at Rs 18000 crore (Rs 180 billion) in 2015 and is projected to reach the Rs 32,000-crore mark in 2020.
Tell us about your inception, background and the birth of The Hillcart Tales brand?
A brand descending from more than a century-old lineage, The Hillcart Tales provides a wide range of exquisite yet authentic teas obtained from the gardens of Darjeeling, Assam, Taiwan, and Rwanda. The Hillcart Tales’ expertise dates back to the British-colonial era when my forefather Ashutosh Ghosh established A Tosh and Sons (India) Limited in 1897; which went on to become the leading exporter of teas to renowned buyers across 50+ global destinations. Extensive market research was undertaken to create an omnichannel brand. The research revealed that a growing number of Indians with disposable incomes are consuming lifestyle teas. We at The Hillcart Tales endeavour to deliver the best as a niche luxury lifestyle brand. Apart from cherishing its rare tea blends, The Hillcart Tales is an ethically, socially, and globally conscious brand. We support growth in promoting traditional skills and expertise, access to education and training, and environmental sustainability.
The market has already many big players, how do you stand out?
The Hillcart Tales is a celebration of the journey of tea from its origins to your tea table. In line with our vision to create something unique, we have utilised our expertise in sourcing and blending the finest quality teas from around the world to craft pure excellence. The muslin tea bags are packed in nitrogen flushed pods ensuring freshness and quality is maintained.
We are the first tea brand in India to have handcrafted packaging. In a poetic representation, our packaging depicts hand-painted watercolours inspired by 37 generations of a renowned traditional Rajput artistic lineage.
The packs mirror the place of origin from the plush and exotic locales of Darjeeling, to the expansive gardens of Assam; high-grown teas of Rwanda and the misty gardens of Taiwan. Our multi-layer packaging ensures that you savour the unique classic and contemporary tastes crisp and fresh from the gardens in every sip.
Also, the compact packaging makes it travel-friendly. Recently, we were shortlisted as one of the finalists at the prestigious Lexus Design Awards 2019 for excellence in branding and packaging on parameters.
Our legacy, product and customer experience, sets us apart from the rest.
Which are your target markets and what are your expansion plans?
We are a premium luxury tea brand catering to experiential tea lovers. We are constantly aiming to innovate new blends, given our expertise and legacy in blending. The Hillcart Tales is always keen to traverse the extra mile to deliver customer happiness. Our target group is tea aficionados who prefer to experience exotic and premium quality teas. Apart from the major metropolitan cities, our plan is to target the high-income tier-2 cities such as Chandigarh, Jaipur, Surat, Ahmedabad, and Coimbatore. The endeavour is to present the brand as an exclusive luxury lifestyle product to domestic as well as international markets.
Startups have many constraints when it comes to levelling the playing field, as big companies have the capital and reach, how do you compete with them?
Although a startup, we are parented by a company that is 121 years old. Thus, it would be appropriate to say that we are a hybrid brand with a rich legacy, but one that has the agility, flexibility and dynamism that comes with a startup mindset. It is true that building a brand from scratch takes a lot of resources, patience and a clear, long-term perspective. Thanks to the backing by the parent company, we have internal resources. At the same time, we might consider a financial partnership in the future to take the company forward. We are focused on a long-term vision and don’t consider it to be a challenge for us.