With the cricket World Cup on—and never mind India’s performance—it is celebration time for Ritwik Palchoudhuri, a 26-year-old MBA student. Just last week, he bought a new television set, just for the World Cup. These days, irrespective of which team is playing, his evenings are “filled with friends, food, drinks and cricket”.
Every night, for the past week, Palchoudhuri and his friends have been ordering food from several restaurants in Gurgaon. These restaurants, patronised by Palchoudhuri’s gang, aren’t the only beneficiaries of a spike in take-outs— people, it emerges, like nothing better than eating while their favourite cricketers play. That makes restaurant owners possibly the only group of people not complaining about the timing of the matches; from office-goers to students to advertisers, most sections have problems with the timing.
Executives at Delhi’s popular Swagath and Sagar Ratna restaurants claim they have seen an interesting, but obvious trend: the number of diners to the outlets has dropped over the past week, while take-outs have increased by 50%. “Consumers are apparently getting back home early and enjoying their dinner while watching TV,” said Jayesh Shetty, manager, Swagath.
A representative of the Federation of Hotel & Restaurant Associations of India (FHRAI), an industry body, said members across the country expected a 30% jump in take-outs. “The timings of the matches are working very well for the retail food industry this time,” said Kamal Sharma, secretary general, FHRAI.
Fast-food chains such as McDonald’s, Pizza Hut and Domino’s also expect their take-outs to surge in the next one month as the tournament progresses. McDonald’s, which is taking advance orders from customers, recently announced a new single number people across the country can call to place orders. “We are expecting our average home delivery, which comprises 5% of sales, to increase significantly during the coming month,” said Vikram Bakshi, managing director, McDonald’s India (North and East). “We have seen a 15-20% increase in delivery sales with the beginning of the World Cup,” added Amit Jatia, managing director, McDonald’s India (West and South). Tarandeep Phull, marketing head, Om Pizza Eats India, the master franchisee for Papa Johns in North India, said he expected “home delivery orders to go up to 30%”.
To cash in on this opportunity, many restaurants and fast-food chains are advertising in various local platforms such as city newspapers and radio channels, and running on-ground promotions. “There is a lot of localized advertising by these players,” said M.K. Machaiah, senior business director, MindShare, the media buying agency that handles the account of Kentucky Fried Chicken and Pizza Hut.
With the World Cup having a direct impact on their sales, no wonder restaurateurs are hoping that the Indian team makes it to the next round, and to the very end.