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Jun, 01 2009

Franchisee`s share in localisation

It`s not just management that helps the franchisee in picking up the right menu but it is the franchisee`s knowledge

India is a diverse country with umpteen number of cultures, religions and languages. It is such a variant place that tastes and preferences of people vary from region to region within the country. Here, a large number of population possesses a strong vegetarian preference, and across the regions; one will discover an assortment of choices of food from Punjabi, Gujarati and Bengali to Hyderabadi cuisines. It is obvious that in a country like India, people either like sweet or spicy food, so while keeping these aspects in mind, the franchisee explores specific areas by noticing people`s eating habits, their liking towards diverse tastes and selecting menu on the basis of the research conducted in that specific area in consultation with the franchisor. Therefore, it becomes important for the franchisor to recognise the palate of the people before arriving at a decision to localise its product offerings.

When it comes at localising the product offerings in any region, both the franchisor and the franchisee should conduct a market specific research wherein they consider every aspect that can turn their venture fruitful. Talking about the market survey before coming over a decision to localise offering, Rajeeva Shanker, Chief Marketing Officer, US Pizza enlightens, “We do proper survey of different types and sizes of food joints who are selling some popular category of products which can be brought to our brand portfolio. We also meet good number of people from all sections who frequently dine outside. We also do the sampling and then we decide anything.”

Franchisee - the prominent facilitator of localization

The franchisee plays a prominent role in the localisation of the brand, as he is well aware of the palate of the customers of a region that he belongs to. Commenting on the role of the franchisee in localization, Jayaram Banan, CEO, Sagar Ratna declares, “A franchisee is a very important partner in our business and plays the role of a facilitator for my brand`s popularity while making profitable operations. He acts as a tool to exploit the local potential and integrates the South Indian vegetarian variety into North Indian households. He is indeed our brand ambassador.” He further adds, “It is authentic to say here that it`s the franchisee whose understanding of the market takes the brand to success.”

Shanker says, “A franchisee is mostly a localite, who has hence, a deep understanding of the culture and food habits of that region. Hence, his suggestion for any particular product or variety makes lot of sense for a particular brand in that locality or region. Since the local sentiments have been taken care of, hence it connects the people to the brand and there is all possibility of wider acceptance of the brand in that locality or the region.”

Talking about the franchisee`s decision in localisation of a brand Adith Podhar, Director, Altius Enterprises, states “The franchisee has a say, but in the end the decision remains with the company. The franchisee suggests what needs to be changed and we are flexible with it. For example, in Hyderabad market we have made the product spicier because the local franchisee had an opinion that Hyderabad wants to eat spicier, so we changed the recipes and gave a go ahead to the franchisee.” So this makes clear that being a localite, he can contribute in creating the brand awareness among the consumers and thus encouraging more footfalls at the outlets.

Localising product line to regional flavour

By taking example of McDonald`s, the world`s famous Quick Service Restaurants, it is interesting to add that many of the new products that were added to McDonald`s menu over the decades were developed by its franchisees. For instance, Jim Delligate, the franchisee of McDonald`s was granted permission to introduce the Big Mac to his McDonald`s restaurants in Pennsylvania. By the next year, his McDonald`s restaurants started driving profits from the sandwich. McDonald`s Corp. included it in the national menu. As an inspiration, the franchisees in India can also make the brand successful across the country by introducing new product lines in consultation with the franchisor. But it is important that the franchisee must research the area preferences for food where he operates in.

Similar to this, US Pizza introduced Jain pizza in Gujarat and it came up as a big hit there. So apart from catering to the specific taste, it is also important for the brand to name it appropriately to appeal to the locals.

Amit Roy Sharma, CEO and MD at Bloom Juices India informs, “Before localising the brand, we try to understand the people`s buying habits and also the taste which is the most critical of all. So, we customise menu on the basis of the palate people have.”

“Local franchisee understands the local culture and food habits strongly, hence his suggestions carry even most delicate points which are very important for the success of the product.” says Shankar.

Using right market tactics

For the success of a food and beverage brand, it is important to take into consideratio the right menu planning as per palate of the region. After the franchisee has discerned properly the flavour of the people of a specific region, he must adopt a strict regime in selecting food menu which entices people to visit food joint repeatedly. And this in turn will head to brand success. Apart from localising to area specific needs, it is also significant to identify the price sensitive market. The franchisees must plan the right pricing of the product at their outlets. Shanker says, “Menu is the important tool which attracts customers to visit food joint myriad times. Hence at US pizza, we design our menu very scientifically keeping in consideration the local tastes, preference and fondness and gelling them with the brand.”

Concludingly, it is the franchisee who can contribute immensely in localizing the brand and heading it to success through his concerted feed up to franchisors of his study of local tastes, preferences and fondness of palate. However, if the franchisee wants to change anything in the menu, it is imperative to discuss with the franchisor. An important aspect is that the franchisor must involve the franchisee in adding or innovating to their menu for the vast experience of local tastes and preferences the later have, thereby making a headway in their profits.

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