The new normals in a world where Covid-19, unfortunately, is becoming a part of our life will bring about many changes in the way businesses will be conducted, and more importantly, the way we live our life.
The nation-wide lockdown is slowly being lifted across orange and green zones and life is slowly crawling back to a new-normalcy. Businesses and brands are now are making their way back into the business; planning their communication plans for a new world post the covid-19 lockdown, keeping a note of some of the new buzz words such as ‘social distancing’, ‘work from home’ and the latest one; ‘atmanirbhar’.
In this story of Medianews4u’s new brand series, Back to Business, we spoke to Indrajit Ghosh, Global Head – Marketing Communication & Design, Rebel Foods.
How are you coping with the impact of Covid-19 on Rebel Foods? How effectively have you used the lockdown period?
With the onset of COVID-19, life as a whole has changed for the entire world, and so it has changed for us too. Earlier the food segment was driven by a variety of menu, pricing, and discounting. The food industry of the future will be very strongly driven by safety and trust. At Rebel Foods, we have seen an uptick in numbers in the last few weeks. Given the fact that we fall under the purview of the Essential Services Maintenance Act, we took several steps to build our consumers’ confidence. The measures taken are as below:
A live temperature tracker in a place where customers can monitor temperatures for kitchen and delivery staff
Telemedicine health certificates to provide proper health care facilities to our team and in return develop consumer confidence in the brand
We function on the cloud kitchen model, which is delivery only, which meant that we did not see too adverse an impact. Currently, consumers are experimenting less with where they order their food from, and are ordering only from brands they trust, so the impact on our brands has been minimal.
The quest for a solution to a particular crisis helps invent new business opportunities and sometimes leads to a revision of existing business models. What sort of innovation has or will the Covid-19 pandemic bring to your brand & industry?
Every industry is evolving as we speak. We too have found our North Star and are following specific protocols meticulously. We call these tenets, collectively, the Eat. Sure philosophy. Over the years, we ensured that we never use any artificial elements in our food — no colors, additives, preservatives, nothing processed. We also ensured that the hygiene at our kitchens is world-class and audited by the world’s most renowned audit firms. Everything we have done and will do has been and will always be in accordance with the above-stated philosophy and mantra of ensuring that our customers are sure of what they consume, that they do so with trust, with zest, and with love.
While some parts of the country have become Covid-19 free, cities like Mumbai and Delhi are still in a lockdown situation. How are you planning to resume business across cities that are not in the Red?
Since we fall under the purview of the Essential Services Maintenance Act, we have been operational across most of the markets subject to local rulings by authorities. Our own delivery fleet has helped us in reaching out to the customers and provide them with food when everything was shut. With markets slowly opening up we are scaling our services to cater to the rise in demand.
What will be your communication strategy post the opening of the lockdown? What will be the objective of the communication/marketing strategy?
As a brand, we have never been gimmicky by nature. We love food and our customers and in return, our customers love us and our food. At a time, close to a decade ago when the rest of the world was moving away from food tech, we chose the digital route, and this has helped us emerge at the forefront of digital-first advertising. That said, where others have reduced advertising, we have among our brands Behrouz Biryani and Oven Story, which has started TVCs at this time. We also plan to promote our mantra going forward‘Eat. Sure’, via ATL activities.
With our marketing, we are focusing on reinforcing our core belief in the fact that if our brands and food are genuinely good, people will fall in love with them. We have thus built up multiple INR 150 crore brands on the back of a secret sauce in marketing, which is unique to Rebel Foods, one which has brought us oodles of customer love.
How did you keep the morale of the employees during this lockdown period? On a personal note, what kept you positive?
We launched an initiative called #FoodForGood to provide free food to the needy, something that has been entirely driven by our on-ground staff, who are putting their hearts into feeding thousands of needy daily. The idea was to combine existing strength of supply chain, the spread of kitchens and agility to operationalize at a moment’s notice, to feed as many as possible in these times. There is a multitude of such examples for every day. Sharing one here – recently, Rebel Foods got to know (at 9:30 pm) from the Delhi State Health Ministry of close to 1,200 migrant workers sitting at ISBT Bus Station, Delhi, without food or shelter for close to three days. By 11.30 pm, nine of our kitchens had volunteered across Delhi-NCR to get food to these migrant workers.
Under the #FoodForGood initiative, we have provided meals not only in India but in Indonesia as well, where we have our operations. Everything is happening, while ensuring norms such as in-kitchen social distancing are maintained.
Activities such as these have helped ensure that the morale of our staff is high.
Personally, a lot has changed. Work from home bought me more time with family while we all have learned to maneuver through daily work digitally. I learned that I could not only talk about food with our beloved consumers but also cook pretty good meals for my loved ones at home. All in all, it has been a phase of great learning and acceptance.
What are some of the post-lockdown business strategies that you will use to bring the business back on track or at least get it in the right direction and also create demand for yourself
As mentioned previously, our entire business going forward will be based on the ethos, the philosophy of’ EatSure’ defined by
- People: Daily temperature logged and medically certified to handle food
- Process: 200 + Checkpoints for quality, hygiene, and safety
- Ingredients: Highest quality ingredients — no artificial color or flavor
- Packaging: Contactless / double sealed packaging and delivery
For our 1,500+ restaurants globally, we will be doing significant brand-building exercises going forward. We have already started campaigns for Behrouz and Oven Story on TV.
is there anything else that you would want to add?
Though I do not doubt that however long it takes, food services will bounce back, I believe a few things will change fundamentally.
First, people will become more conscious of what they are eating, where the ingredients are sourced from, who is making their food, etc. It will be essential to be transparent to the customer in every aspect of the food – from farm to fork.
Second, the emergence of ’delivery-only restaurants’ will be expedited because of the current crisis. People may be very selective in terms of which restaurants and crowded places they visit. More people will ’Order in’ for even use cases such as having fun with friends.
Third, ’trust’ will 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.