What 2022 holds for the restaurant industry in India

By Smita Jatia

The beginning of the year is the best time to determine your goals for the future. For me, 2022 has started with a bang. The fittest in the restaurant industry have survived and risen. And the previous year’s restaurant trends suggest that the restaurant market in India is ripe for its next phase of growth.

Consider this: More than 45 million Indians satisfied their food cravings by dining at their favorite restaurants in 2021, according to tech platform Dineout. In a year marked by the second wave of the pandemic, this number is significant. And given rising aspirations, higher disposable incomes, and consumers’ increased technological savvy, the restaurant industry could reach new heights in terms of dining in 2022.

Why am I saying this? Because the restaurant industry has seen some of its most notable changes caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. For me, the pandemic has given an impetus to the market to innovate even as consumer preferences for dining have shifted rapidly. A recent Covid impact assessment report by the National Restaurant Association of India indicates that the organized market share in catering services is expected to grow to 54% by FY2025 from 27% in FY2025. fiscal year 2021. While encouraging, this calls for players to work even harder as digital transformation continues to disrupt both business and consumer lives.

For example, take our McDonald’s convenience channels such as Delivery, Drive-Thru, Takeout and On the Go. ‘last year. This is a significant leap! And the pace of growth continues to be strong even as restaurant operations almost fully recover in our markets.

What this suggests to me is that consumers are looking for new ways to eat in and out and that restaurant majors, especially in the curated market, are responding quickly to these trends. Who could have imagined, for example, that a burger could be delivered in a car? But as the need for safety and convenience has increased during the pandemic, people are responding with varied options for consumers.

So where do I see the market heading in 2022? What are the trends to watch this year? I have a few thoughts to share on the subject.

Omnichannel and usability

India’s internet user base is expected to reach 900 million by 2025, up from 622 million currently, according to a recent study by Kantar and the Internet and Mobile Association of India. While a growing user base holds great promise for the online retail market, consumers will also be looking to spend time offline. This also applies to the restaurant market, where the consumer will interact with the brand online on some occasions and offline on the other. This omnichannel consumer expects a consistent, seamless, and personalized experience across brand touchpoints. At the same time, this consumer is also looking for practical solutions based on their needs, choices and opportunities.

Whether it’s contactless ordering using QR codes, digital menu cards, UPI payments, or digital takeout, providing consumers with multiple ways to order, pay, and get their meals on time while ensuring a uniform and seamless experience across all platforms is one way. of life now. 2022 could see this trend accelerate as technology moves to the next level. For example, self-ordering kiosks leveraging augmented reality or virtual reality could provide an immersive experience, allowing customers to order food themselves, avoiding long lines at the counter. Some players are experimenting with AI and robotics to improve the customer experience in their restaurants.

Safety and hygiene

The importance of maintaining hygiene standards in restaurants cannot be stressed enough. In times of Covid, safety and hygiene standards are of the utmost importance as consumers consciously seek out safe places to eat.

Personalization

In the restaurant industry, nurturing customers through brand touchpoints is the best way to build customer loyalty. In the age of personalization, it’s a key ingredient to delivering a complete and seamless customer experience, capturing valuable data and insights throughout the customer journey. This can be done through drive-thru, mobile apps, kiosks, or tablets. To deliver fantastic, personalized experiences to customers, brands need to know them across all channels and be able to use data to deliver relevant offers, curate menu items based on purchase history, and ensure delivery at the right time and at the right place. This is where customer relationship management (CRM) helps.

Nutritious menu options

Eating out doesn’t have to sabotage healthy eating. In fact, restaurant chains like ours have been reinforcing our commitment to nutritious and healthy eating for quite some time. Consumers also choose brands that offer nutritious menu options. I see this trend gaining traction in 2022 as health is no longer a second priority for people in general. It’s at the top of their priority list.

(Smita Jatia is a director of Westlife Development Ltd, which owns and operates McDonald’s restaurants in western and southern India)


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Cecil N. Messick