Life certainly ain't easy for a marketer. Just when the humongous task of establishing the brand gets over, the marketer faces the challenge of reaching out to 'more' customers.
The marketer, thus, has to keep inventing reasons for a steady influx of footfalls. Quality of service, it's needless to say, plays a very important role in ensuring this.
Vikram Bakshi, joint venture partner and managing director, McDonald's (Northern India) is a man, who would certainly vouch for these facts.
Since opening the first McDonald's restaurant in India in October 1996, and having established a solid brand presence for the restaurant chain, McDonald's is now going beyond its restaurants in order to make a greater connect to its prospective customers.
McDonald's has just launched separate kiosks for beverages and deserts to save the time of those customers, who stand in snaking queues, for just desserts and ice creams. Currently there are three kiosks; in Faridabad (Haryana), Basant Lok Complex (near Priya Cinema, Delhi) and Ansal Plaza (Delhi).
"The response at the kiosks has been tremendous. For those, who are looking for a quick dessert or a drink, what is the point in standing in those queues..," reasons Bakshi.
The endeavour at McDonald's has been to deliver good service to its customers. "Just to give an example of the service standards of McDonald's food chain, the recently opened Lucknow outlet successfully serviced 1,470 people in one hour. We are, of course, looking at breaking the record now. However, the larger objective of such initiatives is to attract more people."
Upcoming kiosks, Bakshi says, will either be in the restaurant area, or right up front. When asked if McDonald's planned to launch the kiosks as independent units, Bakshi informed that the proposition was not viable as the the material for the beverages and the desserts had to be sourced from the base kitchen of the restaurant.
In addition to this, McDonald's is experimenting with another retail format - food courts. The American food chain has already housed itself in the food courts at 3C's (in Lajpat Nagar), along with MGM Mall and Mega Mall in Gurgaon.
At the food courts, however, not all of McDonald's products are available. Since the food chain is still testing the waters, only the highest selling food items are on the menu. These include the McVeggie, Aloo Tikki Burger and the Chicken McGrill burgers. Items such as Wrap and McCurry Pan are absent from the list.
"There are a lot of factors to be taken into account, while exploring this format of opening a food court. For one, the outlet in the food court has to be positioned well. Then there are concerns such as the operator of the outlet and kitchen space," explains Bakshi. Till such time the concerns are addressed, the retail chain will go easy on this future expansion route.
Besides good service and accessibility, customer convenience is at the heart of ensuring a satisfactory experience with the brand. And, home delivery is providing convenience at doorsteps. McDonald's has just launched its delivery service at some of its outlets with the objective of reaching out to as many McCustomers as possible.
However, there is one issue troubling the burger chain, as well as the customer. The french fries. While the burgers remain hot enough at the time of delivery, the french fries go limp. The company is yet to find a solution to this, but research at the Hong Kong laboratories is going on to ensure crispness.
"French fries need to be treated in a sensitive manner. It cannot take any kind of abuse. We do understand that this issue has to be addressed. And, which is why we shy away from taking the orders of french fries," says Bakshi.
As McDonald's tries to invent a way of preserving the crunchiness of the French fries, the chain prepares for the launch of its first outlet in South India and Bangalore, to be more precise. It will also be McDonald's first ever franchisee in the country.
While the South has appeared on McDonald's expansion plans after quite a while, Bakshi explains that the expansion policy for the chain was not to spread too thin but be concentrated in one region and then move on. "We wanted to first establish our brand in North and Western India. Having done that, we are now looking southwards."
"Our only concern in the South is that the restaurant must have enough room in the front so as not to turn away a single customer - especially on weekends," he adds.
Once Bangalore is up and running, McDonald's may turn east.
© 2004 agencyfaqs!