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Food and Beverage 2015-12-07

Why QSR needs to be afraid of Fast-Casual?

Economic shifts and cultural preferences promoted by the customer’s choice are driving the restaurant industry growth. And keeping pace with the growth story; Indian restaurants are fast adapting fast-casual dining option in their offerings.

By Deputy Features Editor
Why QSR needs to be afraid of Fast-Casual?

Consumers today look for high quality ingredients, fresh and locally sourced food items, a lavish experience, value for money and a memory to cherish while eating out. Though many restaurants are trying to fulfil these, restaurants like Sattviko, Mex It Up, Lazeez Affaire Group, Wendy’s, Chilli’s, Cafe Delhi Heights- to name a few are bridging this gap of serving quality food backed by food tactics experience.

Looking back

Fast Casual has grown just when we thought the sector wouldn’t possibly grow.  According to a latest research by FICCI, in India, the organised fast casual sector which has gained a tremendous market share in the last 10-15 years is projected to grow at a CAGR of 27 per cent by 2019-20. Promising a higher quality food with a value for meal pricing has pushed the growth of fast-casual dining in the country.

Not only this, markets like the US and UK are also turning out to be great with the fast casual community rising at 550 per cent since 1999, ten times the growth in the fast-food industry, claimed a research.

Where we stand today

While not just spending on the customer’s preference, the fast-casual restaurants have proved themselves operationally dexterous and intelligent in bringing the experience to customer’s table.

Not only has this changed, but consumers today spend more on food than buying any other product categories. Today, food expenditure constitutes the majority of our consumption basket and with more than 50 per cent young crowd eating out; it will only grow in the country like India.

Even the food marketing at these restaurants has increased with fast-casual unlocking the success in the tough competitive Indian market.

We can say that fast-casual segment has found favour with the consumers; the fast-casual segment is at the forefront of attracting investments and has played an integral role in portraying India as a land of opportunity. Based on four thumb rules, freshness and authenticity, tweaking and customisation, bringing the essence of ‘individuality’ and offering value for money pricing and an overwhelming experience, fast-casual has outpaced the fast food or the QSR culture in the country.

Creating a fast casual environment

Casual dining sector which has lured in the most investments and investors’ attention in the industry is also following the fast-casual segments, by introducing those elements at their restaurant. Open Kitchen, live environment, freshly served ingredients and a cosy place to meet the near and dear ones are all trending at these locations.

The newly opened Wendy’s outlet at Gurgaon reads, “Welcome to Real- Welcome to Fresh – Welcome to Wendy’s, marketing their food right to the hungry Indian customers who are demanding fresh and quality ingredients.”

“We are placing our offering to them who are looking for quality products, who prefer good service and who realise the difference between what fresh produce and products are,” shares Sanjay Chhabra, Director, Sierra Nevada Restaurants, the master franchisee of Wendy’s in India.

Priyank Sukhija, who has introduced some of the quirky restaurants in the country, has brought all these global trends in his restaurants. From a healthy and stylish decor to an extended menu with wine and drinks, is what the young entrepreneur is offering to its customers in India.

“My interior designers hate me as I tell them just to execute my ideas, keeping aside their imaginations. I believe in tying down the whole concept together and every year in each of my restaurants, we add 20 per cent new menu and delete 20 per cent,” added Sukhija who has given the country some of the wackiest restaurants

“We are a casual dining place, people feel like home. There is no rule followed at cafe as far as customer is concerned. It is customer oriented casual dining place. The youth population in India has grown and people do not want to go to ‘stiff’ places, they want to go to ‘relax’ places where they want to go again and again. The eating out culture has increased, people need more meeting places, they need casual dining places as their offices,” believes Vikrant Batra, CEO, Cafe Delhi Heights who is serving food with a live kitchen concepts at its newly opened restaurants in Delhi.

Going on the same line, Mex It Up, a newly opened restaurant at GK II is operating under fast-casual segment inspired by the Chipotle’s restaurants.

“We thought of bringing the same concept in India, the live concept where everything is made in front of the customer, served fresh in customers’ presence so that he is satisfied that everything is fresh and is of high quality,” shares Akul Dhingra, Co-founder, Mex It Up.

And with a balancing result on the way, we can see fast-casual driving greater pie of the industrial sales in the years to come.

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