From early times till now, Indian customers are one of the most loyal food lovers. Whenever it comes to eating out in a joint or a restaurant, most of the Indians prefer to experience the varied dishes across the regions which will be authentic, nutritious as well as delicious. Due to the emerging change in the food and beverage trends as well as changing preference of the consumer, most of the restaurant hubs are going to experience the next growth trajectory in Indian restaurant industry.
According to a report by market research firm RNCOS, "With the rapidly growing Indian middle class population and changing lifestyle, India is going to be one of the fastest growing food and beverage markets in the world. The Indian food and beverages market is projected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of about 7.5 per cent during 2009-13 and would touch $ 330 billion by 2013. Also, not only the authentic restaurant chains but even the Indian fast food market is expected to grow at a rate of 25-30 per cent annually".
By 2011, most of the restaurants across the region will be experiencing this emerging trend more closely than ever before. Though the F&B trend till 2010 remained largely under-penetrated and concentrated in metropolitan cities, there is a large room of untapped growth expected in the tier-II and tier-III cities as well. Some of the main drivers for these emerging trends are increase in income and evolution of urban population, emerging change in consumption patterns, and evolution of innovative restaurants, better options ?nd ranges and growing population of working women.
Increase in Income and Urban Population
Due to increasing urbanisation and rising disposable income, the buying power of the new middle class is increasingly being directed towards modern, convenience food products. Higher incomes will result in a change in consumption patterns, and India may see an increasing demand for health, organic, processed and packaged food in days to come. Today, better food isn't the only positive development. The restaurant industry needs to focus and innovate on some trends that can change the way people eat en masse.
Desire for healthy and nutritious food
Since people are becoming more health conscious, so anything to do with health can sell in the Indian market. According to RNCOS report "India, with a population of more than one and a half billion, and represents one of the largest consumer markets in the world. Additionally, the country enjoys one of the largest and most balanced demographics in terms of age, as more than 50% of the population is below 30 years of age. The tremendous growth in its population of young people is likely to bring about a shift in the Indian food and beverage trends, as young population drives the demand for processed and health foods. Any restaurant that wants to set its potential amongst the customers must adhere to healthy food including organic foods, low-fat foods, low-carb offerings, sugar-free options, no trans-fats, no corn syrup, no carmine and fresh food as part of their menu.
Eating out to get the authenticity and entertainment
In today's Indian market, despite the existence of saturated big brand names of restaurant chains, many customers are seeking out more authentic outlets serving traditional recipes made from locally sourced ingredients. The focus of eating out has now shifted from food being a necessity to a form of entertainment, whether it be a family entertainment, activities, live performances or music. People want to eat and be entertained at the same time. This authentic F&B concept in restaurants will bring about the region's rich culinary heritage and improve the hospitality skill for international travelers looking for a truly authentic experience.
Social Media as a boon for restaurant industry
Due to the rapid urbanisation culture and large working class in metropolitans as well as in tier II cities eating out at restaurants has become a simpler option for Indian food lovers. Also, with the added advantage of access to online portals, ads in smart-phones, and 3G connectivity etc. customers are accustomed to researching their F&B destinations online and experience the food of their choice.
Providing Customers with not only food but the ultimate ambiance to be cherished forever
While food trends may come and go, restaurant chains need to pay emphasis on feeding their visitors by expanding the global flavours like Thai, Chinese, Continental, Mexican etc. The restaurateur needs to understand that today's customer seeks a 'dining experience' for even the smallest catered function. With time, they have become more demanding, exacting, educated and knowledgeable about food. To keep them happy, restaurateur must follow the latest 'in' food, offering small portions of everything encourages customers to try more eclectic items. Last but never the least, innovative and inventively planned desserts add an element of surprise and absolute satisfaction to the customers.
With the emerging concept of F&B in India, restaurants need to focus on more of theme restaurants rather than mixing things. There shouldn't be any 'compromising on the taste' to suit the local palate. Its time to understand the need of today's customers, as they no more just want their taste buds tickled, but also want to be dazzled by the presentation of the dishes and the ambiance. People truly do eat first with their eyes….
(The author is Assistant Vice President, FnB Division, Mirah Hospitality)