Over the years customers have become much smarter and choosy when it comes to eating out preferences. With overall food service market in India anticipated to grow at a 12% CAGR, people are eating out on a regular basis and they have become core of the restaurant business existence. According to industry experts from early 2000s till today they have seen a huge change in the customers’ eating out preferences and their behavioural change. “We started deGustibus in 1999. The first 12 years were very smooth, gentle selling but suddenly the whole pattern changed there were millennial, people were far well travelled than probably we were at that age, there was internet which was giving the customers lots of information. So, the aspiration was going up, needs were changing, looking for variety and different things,” says Anurag Katriar, ED & CEO at deGustibus Hospitality.
With sudden change in the eating out preferences, restaurants realised that there is a whole lot market which has opened up driven by the youngsters. Earlier restaurateurs were happy doing 70% food sale but today people will call them a failure if 70% is food sale. So, they started reinventing brand according to the market demand. There were few trends which were doing rounds in the food service industry. There is a definite shift of restaurants from unorganised to organise though it is slow and steady but it surely going to stay. A restaurant is no more looked upon a stomach filling location; drinking out is one of the reasons that people step into a restaurant. Earlier people would go out to eat and probably grab a drink. “Today most people go out to drink and food is just an incident and that’s where I see the biggest problem because earlier there was a clear differentiator in food- What will I get if I go to a restaurant ‘A’ and ‘B’. The way the market has evolved it is about the rightly priced drink,” adds Katriar adding that people are looking at volumes and that’s where the industry is heading today.
Birth of cafe moment
With almost 37% of the market shared by the cafe and casual dining chain, there is a sudden push in the cafe growth in India. People preferring a small get together over a cup of tea or a drink has gained momentum. Even a small meeting with a dear friend with relaxing environment has shaped up the growth of the cafe and bistro movement in the country. “I realised in early 2000 that it was about high end bars where people go out. It was not about going out to bar having a drink, enjoying the time. Everything was about being seen, wearing good clothes, look pretty and coming on page 3,” shares Khodu Irani, Partner- High Spirits Pune, adding that it has changed over the years and the biggest reason is internet. Over the years with face Book coming in, Snapchat, Instagram building up people are watching other people going out on regular basis and hence they are looking for a similar change here. Gone were the days when drinking and going out was a weekend affaire, today bars are doing good sales on weekdays as well because people go out to chill, chat with their friends on daily basis. And, that’s the good change in the market.
“Right now casual drinking is at par with QSRs and that’s across boards. The pricing has become cheaper in the bar and liquor industry as compared to what it was in 2004-05,” adds Irani.
There has been a paradigm shift in the last five years. People have become much more tech savvy and for them everything has become an online business. Started as an online shopping trend, food business has also given online delivery and table reservation a good business in last five years. “When we started in 2012 reservation was not something that people have thought of but today people want to book a table before they go out. We are sitting on more than 300000 diners on the monthly basis,” points Sahil Jain, Co- Founder- Dineout. We can say that the industry is moving in such direction where people want convenience at their forefronts. At the same time people want lower prices and they want convenience as well. So, there are both things happening at the same time. It is not only pricing but people are also looking at convenience. There is opportunity to give them a special moment. “For restaurants like Barbeque Nation, they have got a good numbers on food as well. It is like 1500 customers per day at places like Hyderabad, Bengaluru and Chennai,” adds Jain.
Hence, we can say that localisation is an important factor in today’s dining out scenario as every city has its own market and within those markets there are markets.