The western fast food invaded India in the mid-90s when McDonald’s, a fast food chain giant across the world, entered an Indian market much hesitant to try fast food. It took them four years to get up and running and struggling to compete with the cheap,spicy Indian street food. But after nearly two decades, the picture of Indian fast food market has changed radically. It has grown into a market worth billions of dollars. There are several factors responsible for these changes making India a favorable destination for a lot of western fast food giants.
For long India has had a reputation of having a market that favored homegrown businesses. Strict marketing rules and regulations made it hard for foreign marketing giants to enter the Indian market. But over the years the market has softened up. New rules and regulations have been implemented, while laws like FDI( foreign direct investment) have made the country a better destination for business. Working with local marketing giants, several big MNCs have entered the market targeting selected consumers. The food market is very favorable to these MNCs. In the last few years, we’ve seen more and more western companies entering the Indian Fast Food market while the existing ones have been expanding their business. Ajay Kaul, CEO, Jubilant Foodworks, a company that grants franchise in India to Domino’s and Dunkin Donuts, says,” The country’s fast food market today is only one tenth the size of China’s but unlike China India’s market is expected to grow” while Amit Jatia, vice chairman, Westlife Development, a firm running McDonald’s restaurants in western and southern India says,” the quick service market is still very nascent, and there is ample space for more and more brands to come in and coexist”. (Source: CNBC)Every company is opening more and more outlets, trying to reach more and more locals. India is a large country with a big population. In 2015, India had about 2700 fast food outlets leaving most of the population untouched. Thus, creating scope for more and more opportunity for expansion. The fast food market is expanding and is expected to grow up to 27 billion by 2020.
Another reason as to why there has been such a fast increase in the popularity of western fast food in India is the fact that all the western fast-food outlet chains have Indianized their menus. According to Euromonitor McDonald’s tweaked about 70 percent of its menu for the Indian market. It has stayed away from beef in the country, where cows have a religious significance, and attempting to appeal to a public that enjoys spicy food with options like MCspicy Paneer and Chicken Maharaja Mac. They’ve also opened some 100 percent vegetarian outlets throughout the country.”We’ve localized our menu and due to this we’re not just seen as an international brand but one which the people of India feel comfortable with”, said Jatia. ( Source: CNBC)
KFC, on the other hand, has had a slight edge over the other brands due to a Chicken centered menu as about 70 percent of the Indian population is non-vegetarian. Burger king tried to enter the Indian Market at around 2006-2007 but failed as it was unable to Indianize its product. It has done it now though and has targetted Indian customers specifically.
Adaptation has been necessary to survive in the Fast Food market. Spicing up traditional menus and coming up with consumer specific ideas, while maintaining decent and affordable prices is all part of this. Such efforts have ensured that they win loyalties of consumers. There are people who pick up their
lunches from McDonald’s or KFC almost every day. Ordering Pizzas twice or thrice has become a weekly routine. Maintaining their global identity throughout these changes to adapt to consumers is the key. Every western fast food brand has made sure to maintain its global image and standards.
Western Fast Food brands have worked in a very smart way to advertise their products. They’ve related their advertisements more to the local people by using catchy phrases and slogans. Instead of spending a lot on putting big banners and hiring expensive actors they went for a clever technique. They have used incentives to lure in more and more people. They give gifts, extra beverages, discount coupons, and so on. McDonald’s used to have a happy meal in which they gave toys and action figures along with the burgers and fries. Domino’s gives two pizza at the price of one every Wednesday. This method has worked beautifully as incentives bring in more people and sales have boosted very fast.
Last but the most important factor driving the increase in the popularity of western fast food in India is a big population centered to the youth. About 60 percent of the country’s population is below 30, which means about a 700 million people and many of them have an appetite for the western fast food. It’s easier to order, it’s time saving, and it provides them with ample options so that they can try new things. The youth is experimental in its nature and instead of having traditional food, it experiments with the options and tries to eat new products. Indian kids have related themselves to the western culture and thus, they’re following suit with eating out a lot. They’re making it a habit of eating western fast foods. They’re enjoying these foreign products blended in with Indian touches and the western Fast Food is becoming ever popular among them.