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Indian menus bring McDonald’s, Domino’s, Pizza Hut back in the race



It wasn’t so long ago when quick service restaurant chains such as McDonald’s, Domino’s Pizza and Pizza Hut were registering negative growth. Despite offering a great value proposition these QSRs were finding it difficult to attract customers and industry experts attributed the waning consumer interest to the inability of the QSRs to innovate. McDonald’s for instance, had the same old McAloo Tiki Burger and McChicken burger for the longest time, so did Domino’s which never felt the need to alter its menu. Its parent company, Jubilant Foods did bring into the country other global QSR formats such as Dunkin’ Donuts, but India is not really a donut and coffee consumption nation and the strategy backfired. It was forced to halve the number of Dunkin’ Donuts stores in order to narrow its losses.

These QSR companies in the last one year have definitely pulled up their socks and this reflects in their same store sales growth (SSSG) in the last 3-4 quarters. While McDonald’s and Domino’s witnessed an over 25 per cent surge in SSSG, the likes of Cafe Coffee Day (CCD) and Pizza Hut had an over 10 per cent SSSG. In terms of year on year overall sales growth, McDonald’s posted a jump of 30.2 per cent, while Domino’s grew by 26 per cent, Pizza Hut by 20 per cent and CCD registered a 14.4 per cent growth. Apart from foraying into smaller markets and offering a lot more value deals which contributed to their volume growth, each of these companies have focused on innovations, especially India-centric innovations. McDonald’s for instance, made sure it gave an Indian touch to its global offerings. It launched fusion dishes such as Masala Scrambled Eggs, Spicy Rice Bowl, Dosa Masala Brioche and Chicken Kebab Burger. The company is also focusing on the health platform by launching wheat buns. Earlier, it also announced that it is making attempts to reduce the sodium content in all its patties, nuggets and fries.

McDonald’s has also been focusing on technology-led interventions such as the ‘experience of the future programme’, which enables consumers to place orders at self-ordrering kiosks and get the food delivered to their tables. The company plans to digitise a significant number of its outlets in the next few years.

Cafe Coffee Day, has ramped up its menu with offerings such as Afghan Chicken Biryani, Egg Wrap etc. Domino’s on the other hand, has seen immense success with its everyday value promotional programme and super value menu in smaller towns, which offers pizzas as low as Rs 49. But the pizza company also introduced several Indian themed pizzas and chicken dishes. In sync with its parent company, Jubilant’s Indianisation strategy is its experiment with Chinese cuisine which is a favourite of most Indians. The company is known to have started the test run of a Chinese fast food venture. Whether Jubilant’s Chinese food experiment will succeed is anybody’s guess, but it is evident that QSR formats are aggressively trying to hold on to their consumers with their make in India offerings. They are also trying to localise. Dominos for instance has an all-vegetarian menu in Gujarat, which has a substantially large vegetarian population. On the other hand, its specialty chicken dishes are being aggressively marketed in Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and West Bengal.

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