Paperboat’s ‘sweet deal’ that wasn’t

I stumbled upon a sale-offer by Paperboat that seemed to be crafted really well. I’m not sure who took this photo, and from which store, but I came across this via a post on LinkedIn where I was tagged.

My first reaction was this: “That is so in line with Paperboat’s style of communication that uses the storytelling narrative”.

I liked the fact that they seemed to be honest about why this deal came about. They detailed the reason why they are creating this ‘deal’ with a really relatable analogy of our mom cooking more for a birthday party and fewer people turning up. The reaction from such a personal-sounding analogy would usually be, “Aaw, I think I should help them by buying some”. This is effective story-telling.


Yes, there’s always a but 🙂

In almost every place where someone praised Paperboat’s storytelling prowess, someone else invariably pointed out to another dimension.

On WhatsApp:

On Twitter:

On LinkedIn:

The pack of 4 is being sold at Rs.140. So each pack costs Rs.35.

What is shown in the photo is a 250ml pack.

The same flavor, for a 200ml pack, for instance, sells at Rs.30 and Rs.35 per pack (without including any offers made for Amazon as a platform).

So where did the Rs.120 per pack come from (Rs.480/4) for what is worth Rs.30-35 per pack?

The answer lies in Paperboat’s story itself. The price of the same Paperboat 250ml pack is Rs.120 for the privilege of getting them on a flight (IndiGo, in specific). Yes, the MRP is different for different conditions they are served under. And people have spoken about it too, online.

And IndiGo has clearly washed its hands off saying that this is Paperboat’s doing, not theirs.

Paperboat is also probably not the only brand to use 2 different MRPs for the same product, based on where it is being sold.

Is it like the Maggi I had at Rohtang Pass near Manali for Rs.100 per plate? Not really – Maggi is supposed to be self-made by you. If someone else is making it for you, they could add what they think is appropriate for the making and serving, over and above the MRP of the pack.

IndiGo does not ‘make’ anything out of a Paperboat pack in-flight. They merely stock it. And you drink it straight out of a pack, looking like a very odd nadaswaram player.

So, for this particular ‘sweet deal’, Paperboat has in its mind, the price of a pack at Rs.120 because this was meant for airline passengers’ consumption. In their heads, this seemed like a ‘deal’, though when it is being sold on the ground, there is no markup in people’s minds because the comparison is what we see in stores, normally.

While the story was heartwarming, the reality differs from the way Paperboat saw the ‘deal’ vs. how people see the ‘deal’. In essence, there is no ‘deal’. Definitely not a ‘sweet deal’ either, as claimed by Paperboat. The price is the same as what the product is usually retailed at. I wouldn’t call it a gimmick; only that Paperboat did not take into account what people have as price, for this product, based on their own MRP on the ground. In a way, it is like the many complaints e-commerce portals get during their Billion Days or Prime Days when some vendor increases the price and reduces it to make it look like a deal, but someone has noticed the MRP sticker pasted to the product to blow the cover.

It is very surprising that an otherwise intelligent brand missed this nuance while creating this deal, and had to be schooled by random people on the internet. Even if someone seems impressed, another invariably shares the counterpoint and punctures the brand’s wrong assumption of a ‘deal’.

That’s not wrong – that’s just how social media works.



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *