At present, India’s Food and Beverage Industry might be a vibrant and thriving scene, but it is also famously fickle and highly competitive. Unless you have something to offer that catches the eye of the patron, high chances are that you will have trouble standing out from the crowd. Even if your restaurant kicks off to a great start, new competitors might come into the market and blemish the game for you by taking away your clients. While the restaurant segment in India is booming, it is always a question of longevity and survival.
Restaurateurs are facing a changing landscape that will result in a new competitive order, with some major traditional players likely losing to smaller, agiler new entrants. To survive, one must raise the standards of their business in such a way that it attracts the crowd. If you are a beginner and do not know the tricks of this trade, don’t hesitate to adopt some successful strategies from your competitors who have already been in this industry for multiple years, but understand that directly competing with an entrenched rival might be a bad idea for a beginning restaurateur.
The location of your business plays a key role in the competition. Find an area with few competitors that serve food similar to yours. If the local area is already inundated with similar cafes or pizza places, your food must be uniquely differentiated from the others. Try some techniques or methods which are comparatively new in the market.
With improved standards of living, people have begun to experiment with different aspects of their lives and are attempting to explore all things that are new and in vogue. This development is being witnessed in the food consumption segment as well, with more and more individuals coming forward to experience various cuisines from India and across the world. Today’s generation is extremely conscious about their health. This is the reason why they look out for places which serve food that is not hampering their health and is more diet appealing. People are increasingly opting for organic food products.
The preferences have shifted from farm to table where people want dishes which are healthy and made up of fresh and seasonal ingredients. Healthy snacking, in particular, has been fueled in the lives of consumers who focus on diet, nutrition, and wellbeing.
Flavour is an ever-evolving art, ripe with opportunities for interpretation, innovation, and creativity. This gives birth to another technique – fusion – to attract the millennials. People who love to experiment would not mind an Italian dish prepared with Indian spices. Savoury and tart flavours are increasingly popping up on menus as a way to offset the sweetness in desserts and baked foods. In the past few years, consumers have become more and more aware of umami’ as the fifth taste. The savoury flavour is abundant in high-glutamate foods such as tomatoes, meat, and soy, and has even shown up in huge restaurant names.
The dishes that a restaurant serves creates their image in the mind of the consumers. Any restaurateur who wishes to survive in this highly competitive industry must make up an exceptional image of their business for the customers to remember. Failure in properly establishing a reputable image means that you will be indistinguishable from the competition. There is an ever-growing need for innovation in an industry like food and beverage. Two completely different food items, like the traditional “gola” or “chuski” and a glass of wine, when put together, attract huge numbers of people.
The simplest way to overcome this challenge of surviving is to stick to the core values of your restaurant – sumptuous food served by enthusiastic staff in a pleasant and comfortable environment. If the business is a highly-priced eatery, maintaining the standards and quality of the food served becomes a must. If it is a casual dine-in restaurant or café, food in a good ambience and at a decent price should be the policy. Sticking to these core elements will make survival in this industry easier for you and will make your business stand apart from the crowd.
Another tool for your survival kit can be digitalization. Digitalization is the key to innovation, consumer intimacy, and efficiency in today’s market. A digital food and beverage company has a distinct advantage over their competition. Marshalling their manufacturing networks and supply chain to rapidly capitalize on new opportunities is a great way to stand out in a competitive market. Digital businesses leverage a vast amount of data available from public sources, market research, social media, smart equipment, and your own internal systems to uncover insights that can change the course of your business.
You can identify trends and connections that lead to radical business results and respond to them with digital agility. The competitive landscape is changing, and those that embrace digitalization will have the upper hand.
Restaurateurs are using social media in a unique and exceptional way to elevate themselves in the F&B industry. With the increasing trends of social media and influencers in the market, their writing quality and unique photography skills evoke an instant reaction from the audience. Thus, getting reviewed by an influencer is the best way to reach out to the target audience and create a positive impact on social media.
As it is said, “You can’t blend when you are born to stand out”, being unique is one major aspect to be best in in the F&B industry. People eat with their eyes, hence creative and thoughtful plating enhances both the look and taste of your food. Hence, the presentation is just as essential to the success of a dish as its taste and flavour. Adapting your plate presentation to make yourself distinct from the of the players is a considerable fact. Fabricating daily life objects and their miniatures to serve food beautifies the dish as well as attracts people towards it. Garnishing food with natural ingredients like edible flowers gives dishes a new dimension.
Food techniques like foaming and gelling make the presentation a step up the ladder and also showcase the innovative tricks by chefs.
A great ambience with well-lit interiors that matches the ethos of your cuisine totally makes your customer mesmerized. If a restaurant that serves authentic Italian cuisine has visuals and art portraying the origin of the cuisine, the customer will feel transported to the breathtaking place in an instant and feel a greater sense of connecting with the food, thus taking the experience several notches higher.
Apart from good food and service, music plays an equally important part to complement the vibe and energy of a place. Hosting special evenings on selected days will strike a chord with the consumer base and leave a lasting impression.
Udit Bagga and Udit Bhasin are Directors at Cafe Out of the Box and NH44.
(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.)