What, according to you have been the most positive changes adopted by the industry?
In the recent past, the restaurant/QSR industry has witnessed rapid expansion and a lot of this was not very prudently planned due to which a lot of outlets and stores have been recalled/shut this year. This correction is a very positive step because now I see many brands mapping locations, areas and their audience before making any additions to their store count.
Additionally, the market has also evolved and become mature where newer, smaller, first-time players have entered the market and are in fact giving stiff competition to the bigger organized players. These new entrants have studied customer preferences, gauged the pulse of the market and created newer/unique experiences which have instantly appealed to the modern Indian customer thus widening the scope of the F&B market altogether.
These are just some positive changes that according to me, the industry has witnessed in the recent time but considering the evolutionary and innovative nature of the sector, I am confident that there is much more in store for the future.
How do you think the digital influence is impacting the industry and how will it change the way business is done in the coming years?
In an era of the distracted consumer, digital has changed the way we live in today’s world and even more so for the restaurant industry. Social media platforms have now become a great way to connect with your target audience. For QSR’s, the youth constitutes a large chunk of their customer base and social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram offer a great avenue to engage with your customer and address their concerns in real time.
Besides that, with information accessible literally at the touch of a button it has become much easier to keep track of the market and the competition. Digitization and technological transformation has also aided in better decision making and increased the pace of doing business.
Digital has also changed the way brand’s allocate their marketing and ad spend, and most are investing in creating quick and functional digital channels which are constantly connected with the end consumer. In the coming future also, I feel that the allocation of this spend towards digital is likely to increase. Additionally, digital has also created a space for brands to display their backend processes and quality protocols to ensure greater customer awareness. Going by this trend, I foresee a rise in direct customer engagement in the future as well.
Does food innovation have a role to play in the QSR & Café industry? What are your views on how it can change the age-old concept of what this industry stands for?
In my opinion, innovation in food is an important facet of the restaurant/QSR industry but out of the box food items should be introduced keeping in mind the traditional eating habits and cultural influences of the customer. For any QSR that is looking to scale its operations, having an overtly innovative menu might not be the best way to go since this might lower one’s target audience. Having a product/range of products that have been curated in sync with the Indian customer, his/her preferences and cultural influences will help create a niche audience for your restaurant/QSR thus creating a business that is viable, profitable and scalable.
Additionally, for any brand to create a mark amongst its target audience, creating a unique experience for its customer is of key importance. For any QSR, creating unique experiences and building a good rapport with your customer is a difficult task within itself, since the time for customer engagement is minimal. By doing this, you will also build a great emotional relationship with the customer which will stay behind thus creating better recall for your brand.
Regional & cultural diversity in India – how big an impact does it have on the success of a QSR?
While planning for a new restaurant/QSR chain, it’s important to keep in mind the regional, cultural and ethnic diversity of our country. Regions across India have different and unique tastes and preferences that hold great importance while planning a restaurant’s menu. If we were to take the example of Keventers itself, flavours like Strawberry, Butterscotch and Cold Coffee have an ardent fan following in the northern states while south India prefers to experiment more with their shakes by opting for chocolate oreo, mint chocolate oreo etc. Hence its most prudent for any new QSR/restaurant to keep India’s diversity in mind before planning to open any new restaurant.