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Mar 9th

The rise of QSRs in India and the emergence of the new Indian foodie

Mar 9th

The rise of QSRs in India and the emergence of the new Indian foodie

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The rise of QSRs in India and the emergence of the new Indian foodie

Given the expanse of the country, India is home to a rich diversity of food with several regional variations and preferences, and food is an integral part of the cultural and social fabric. And while the concept of eating out has been around for some time, the advent of Quick Service Restaurants (QSRs) in the 1990s changed what and how we eat. The entry of global chains like McDonald’s and Domino’s Pizza introduced Indians to new cuisines and service standards. And more recently, the rise of the e-commerce, digital payments improved last mile delivery and the growth of discretionary spending have revolutionised the space even more. To get a better handle on this, we conducted a survey of consumer preferences, attitudes, and trends towards QSRs which are presented in the ZEE5 Intelligence Monitor report. Some of the key insights from the report include:

The new Indian consumer is open to experimenting with food

Not so long ago, Indians were largely conservative in terms of food preferences and eating habits. And even when eating out, they tended to order what they ate at home or stuck to a small selection of familiar options. But, our survey reveals that the new Indian foodie is now more open to experimenting when eating out. In fact, 90% of the respondents state that they are willing to try new items on a menu, with the affinity for experimenting highest among students. In large part, this is owing to international QSR brands that bring in new cuisines and adapt their offerings to suit Indian taste buds. And today, Indian foodies have reached a stage where they necessarily want to order food items that they are unlikely to cook at home.

Convenience, experience, and technology are shaping eating habits

According to the survey, 7 out of 10 respondents prefer ordering food online, with fast delivery (38%) and timely delivery (36%) as the top two reasons. The survey also found that 32% of consumers order via aggregators and delivery apps, while 40% use company- or brand-owned apps. Technology has become a vital enabler for the F&B ecosystem, and this could point to a pronounced shift in eating habits, boosting overall demand for QSRs which are known for their quick service and consistency in taste and experience. And with the emergence of the digital-first economy, technology can add incremental value for QSRs through apps. Going forward, innovations like conversational or social commerce, which allow customers to place an order via chat on familiar platforms, could very well be the future of QSRs.

The Indian market is big enough for foreign and Indian QSR brands

It is widely accepted that global brands pioneered the QSR segment in India, and continue to do so even today. However, the survey revealed that Indian QSR brands are also beginning to find favour among consumers. And there are distinct segments of consumers who prefer each for different reasons. For instance, 38% of respondents prefer foreign QSRs for their kid-friendly facilities and ambience, while 35% prefer Indian QSRs for the flexibility of customising they offer (less spicy or oily or customisation to suit dietary preferences).
Moreover, in both cases, consumers visit QSRs to uplift their mood by experiencing something different from their routine food at home, and the variety of options offered by QSRs cater to this need.

The QSR industry, like other businesses worldwide, faced challenges during the last two years, particularly with dining out. However, the industry responded with collaborations and innovations to close the gap in food delivery. Now, as normalcy resumes, the QSR segment is among the first to recover and move forward. More significantly, the growing footprint of QSRs in India, particularly in non-metro locations, indicates the untapped opportunity that exists in the market. So, while urban consumers will continue propelling the demand for QSRs, the next major shift in the QSR industry could very well come from non-metro cities and towns in rural India.


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