On Tuesday night, Amit Shukla of Jabalpur made an absurd demand of Zomato after placing a food order—he wanted it delivered by a Hindu rider and not by Faiyaz, the man who was assigned the task. Shukla was observing Shravan and “didn’t need delivery from a Muslim fellow", as he put it in his complaint on the food-delivery app’s customer care chat, insisting that the delivery agent be changed or his order be cancelled if a Hindu could not be given the job.
Zomato stood its ground and turned down the demand, upon which Shukla took to Twitter to vent his annoyance. “Food doesn’t have a religion. It is a religion," tweeted the brand in response—to a rousing reception from the app’s loyalists and beyond. The company’s founder Deepinder Goyal also put out a backup tweet on its policy stance. “We are proud of the idea of India—and the diversity of our esteemed customers and partners," he said, “We aren’t sorry to lose any business that comes in the way of our values." It went viral too. Deservedly.
In its defiance of a marketing orthodoxy that equates customers with royalty, Zomato has won itself wide admiration. A real brand is one that represents a set of values, not one that is merely well known. Several brands that emphasize diversity and inclusive ideas, such as Benetton, has been built on such a strategic premise. It makes business sense. In its rejection of bigotry, Zomato has won over a large audience that will hold it in good stead.