The Delicious Restaurant Business
One of the largest emerging categories in advertising spends happens to be the restaurant category whether in the form of fast food outlets, ethnic food outlets or western food restaurants. The restaurant business is booming and this trend would strongly continue in the next 5 – 7 years.
From a consumer behavior viewpoint, eating out and meeting out, has become an ever growing trend leading to the spread as well as the depth of restaurant business revenues moving very fast. In fact the younger consumers, who constitute a large proportion of the Indian population, find it appealing and cool to go to a restaurant and eat out with their friends and meet out.
What has happened to India suddenly? Why is this boom an ever-growing one? What are the brand marketing opportunities available to the corporate world?
The restaurant business has always been a personalized service business wherein tangibles like food and beverage and ambience are undoubtedly important, but what is gaining more importance is the expectation of world-class service and relationship with customers. This sudden change in expectations is making the restaurant business extremely lucrative for good brand builders and is depressing those who serve bad food and give bad service. The reason the consumer goes to a restaurant is to have a pleasant experience and to be able to enjoy his meal, his drink and his company with his family and friends, It could even be a business lunch or dinner which gives rise to a different set of expectations from the customers. Brand marketers have a great opportunity to understand the expectations of consumers and provide them with tangibles and intangibles which delight the consumers and make them visit the restaurant again and again. Brand marketers must follow the pure principles of brand marketing whether in the form of segmentation or brand positioning or whether in the form of communication and delivery or whether in the form of brand experience or customer service. All ingredients of a brand-marketing plan are relevant in building up of restaurant business. It could be the product portfolio like the menu or it could also be the soft skills or training required by the staff. Each and every marketing ingredient needs to be handled in a sensitive and caring manner.
There are various formats of restaurants and the starting point is to look as to which category of restaurant should one participate in, first. Should it be a vegetarian or a non-vegetarian restaurant? This is a critical decision, which should be made at the beginning itself. One of the brands that I personally handle and have developed in terms of brand consultancy is a chain of restaurants called “Bake Veg” Vegetarian Restaurant which serve specific Roasted Veg Snacks which is very popular and the brand is growing by leaps and bounds both in terms of sales and the number of outlets in South. This specific choice of category has helped. Similarly one could look at the choice of a single or a multi cuisine restaurant. One could also look at a restaurant that only offers home delivery or only serves on premise or does a mix of both. One could strongly look at a South Indian restaurant which serves the South Indian delicacies and in this sector the Kamats and the Udipi type restaurants have done extremely well because of excellent food, reasonable rates and pleasant service. The Radhakrishna chain is good example of the success.
The fast food restaurant are another category which appeal to the Indian youngsters whether it be McDonald's, Pizza Hut, Domino’s, Smokin Joes and others. This category advertises lot on T.V and press. Another type of restaurants which do well are specific restaurant in 5 star hotels whether it be Dum Pukht or Dakshin of the ITC Group or Sea Lounge of the Taj Group or the varied restaurants offered by Oberoi’s, Marriott, Hyatt and the Leela’s. Many of these restaurants have become brands in themselves due to good ambience, food, service and promotion.
Restaurant business is full of life and consumers in India want to improve not only the standard of living but also the quality of life. If the brand marketing strategy is correct this restaurant business will see more of the “Meeting Out and Eating Out” phenomenon.
There are certain elements in a restaurant business which must be leveraged for brand marketing purposes. Unlike in other industries where customers do not come to the marketer, in the restaurant business the consumer actually comes to the marketer. This gives the brand-marketing people a chance to positively interact and understand the needs of the consumers, serve them well and also take their feedback while collecting database for relationship marketing. As has been the Indian tradition a guest is given importance next to GOD. In fact the entire brand experience of the consumer at a restaurant leads to good or bad word of mouth that makes a lot of difference to the fortunes of the restaurant brand. The Restaurant business has to become more specific in understanding the needs of the consumers and also setting service standards which would help satisfy consumers better.
The brand marketing plans of a restaurant business have to be prepared in a systematic manner so that they can be executed well with proper monitoring and leanings incorporated for future plans.