Rebel Foods, owns well-known brands such as Faasos, Behrouz Biryani, Oven Story, Mandarin Oak, The Good Bowl, SLAY and Sweet Truth among others. The foodtech giant had initially started out in the restaurant space in the year 2011 with Faasos across ~20 locations is today one of world’s largest internet restaurant company. Constant evolutions of their business model kept them ahead of the curve and they now pioneer cloud kitchens at a humongous scale across the country and abroad.
In light of what things are progressing during COVID-19, Rebel Foods has launched a new experiential year-end campaign, for their consumers keeping in mind their safety and offering them experiences like never before. The brand has come up with consumer focussed experiences around Behrouz Biryani & Oven Story Pizzas.
Shoumyan Biswas – Head of Strategic Alliances – Rebel Foods, on the initiatives taken during the pandemic, way forward in 2021.
Can you tell us about the new experiential year-end campaign?
In India, Biryani is not just a cuisine, it is an emotion. It is the largest selling entity in the online food delivery category in India. The year 2020 has been really tough, especially for personal relationships. We realized it may be very long before people can step and meet others in a comfortable manner or without any worry. We wanted to rejuvenate the hopes of special moments that are celebrated over dining out with friends and family which is why we came up with the concept of Mehfil-E-Behrouz – a special dining out substitute that you can celebrate at home with your loved ones, serving 4-5 people. Mehfil-E-Behrouz will be launched in 4 cities – Mumbai, Pune, NCR, and Bangalore on 1st December. Mehfil-E-Behrouz offers a unique dining experience with a 3-course biryani feast – choice of chicken/mutton/paneer biryani with melt-in-mouth Kebabs conceptualized by celebrity chef Kunal Kapur Gulab accompanied by Gulab Jamuns & Raita to complete the meal. The meal is artfully presented in metal containers and makes sure your table is artfully lit up with golden lotus-shaped candle-holders. The experience collection also includes a royal intricately-weaved table runner and personal place-mats. All in all, it’s an experience that no other biryani player can give.
Oven Story has been the mainstay for numerous house parties since the beginning but only as a food partner – now we have taken the onus of creating a standout party experience for you. We are providing food, dessert & beverage options – along with party props to uplift the mood, surprise memorabilia, card games as an ice breaker, and party lights to recreate the DJ-on-the-floor ambiance. In addition to this, many secret party hacks for the host in our party booklet is the cherry on the top. There won’t be any dull moments when Parties by Oven Story is live. It will be available in 2 formats- Blockbuster (4-5 ppl) and Legendary (8-10 ppl). The Pan India rollout is planned for March 2021.
The pandemic has been a great teacher on how to survive in difficult times, what were the lessons and challenges faced especially for the food business?
The coronavirus pandemic has brought India’s expanding food and beverage industry to a grinding halt. The nationwide lockdown has driven footfalls down to zero and sent revenues into free fall, with restaurateurs struggling to maintain fixed overheads and other expenses. The restaurant industry is one of the largest employers in India, engaging close to 10 million people and second only to the railways, according to National Restaurant Association of India. The brand sales are growing on a like-to-like basis. People who are still ordering are opting for places they trust, and we are lucky to have them choose us. We have taken measures such as sharing body temperatures of delivery persons (on invoices) and tracking food preparation through CCTV cameras.
You have also pivoted and altered the offerings to suit the customer; did you think it was the right thing in this crisis?
At rebel we have always pivoted and altered our offering to suit the needs of the customer. Customer First thinking is a core value to us. We have always launched products special to relevant occasions – we serve fasting food during Navaratri through Lunchbox, Modaks during Ganesh utsav, Halim during the holy Ramadan month and so on. The pandemic has been no different for us. We continued to listen to customers be it reviews or through customer calls. In these times, ’trust’ has become as important a factor as price and variety. F&B companies that would be able to win the customer’s trust during this period will have an opportunity to create winning brands and have customer loyalty for a long time.
What are the other initiatives to keep the brand relevant?
There are four major buckets through which a strong consumer – brand relationship can be built and staying relevant thus becomes the final output. First, we deliberate on great product innovations. Be it Behrouz’s unique recipe of Biryani or 4 different kinds of cheese base options in our Oven Story pizzas, we are constantly creative unique memorable and delightful experiences. We are going to introduce many exciting dishes, many of which are a first time experience for most Indians.
Second, as an organisation we have doubled down on our customer experience efforts implementing hygiene standards of the highest levels and sharing kitchen staff temperatures and activity logs for every order.
Third, we have continued to promote all our brands on mass media and social channels to increase awareness and top of mind recall. Our brands Behrouz Biryani and Oven Story have started TVCs at this time. Faasos also had a campaign couple of months back. There are smaller campaigns running for brands like Sweet Truth and Lunchbox to drive salience and recall.
Last, we soon intend to launch experiences beyond just delivering good quality food. Behrouz’s Mehfil-E-Biryani and Oven Story’s Pizza Party offerings are a start. Soon you will see a Behrouz Biryani crew come and set up a royal dining experience at the comfort of the customer’s home. Every brand needs to push the needle to create customer journeys that are true to the brand’s essence and unique to the category itself.
This crisis has changed the way brands and businesses communicate, what is your strategy in terms of brand communication in the new normal?
As brands, we have never been gimmicky by nature. We love food and our customers and in return, our customers love us and our food. Since the onset of COVID-19, communication has emerged as the nerve centre of a brand’s pandemic response. While the initial stages of the pandemic saw many brands scrambling to put out the right messaging about their products, the only thing that worked in their favour were actual actions. At Rebel Foods, we promise to deliver food that is made with utmost care and precaution, but to instil the faith in our consumer’s hearts; we went a step ahead and took our EatSure initiative to the next level.
What will be the marketing strategy now?
With numerous initiatives focused on keeping our customer first, we are working on various means and methods and learning along the way on what successfully works for us as a business. With most activities shut down this is probably the most testing time for most brands to connect with their audience. Building a connection with new customers and maintaining your pre-existing ones. Two most successful methods at Rebel Foods are:
- Digital is the key – As an online-first brand, we are heavily focused on creating memorable experiences for our consumers by newer options in our offerings, making it an experience worth remembering. With the current practice of maintaining a physical distance, the activity online has increased, as social media would probably become the primary means of communication with others. With easy internet access, several different social media platforms, estimated 375million+ social media users in India, it would be well advised to use social media to increase your brand visibility through organic means.
- Understand the consumer sentiment – The customer’s concerns have shifted since people are worried about what they are eating because of how this virus is spreading. We have worked on keeping up with our consumer demands, with initiatives that range from offering food trucks in societies to providing customers with a live feed of body temperatures for those handling their orders such as cook and delivery person.