Debashish Chakraborty
Brands and Sports marketing

IPL 2020 delivers well for the online food ordering category

In addition to biggies like Swiggy & Zomato, restaurants and cloud kitchens rode high on the sporting event’s wave.

The fanaticism of the Indian audience can only be truly exhibited when it is either about sports or food. Where on one hand, sports – majorly cricket - has played the role of congregating the country's diverse audience, on the other, online food ordering brands have successfully achieved the cuisines-know-no-boundary agenda for the masses. And what happens when they come together? Almost a billion people get their favourite dose of entertainment and satisfy their hunger pangs – simultaneously.

Last year, after a long wait, India’s biggest sporting event - Indian Premier League 2020 kick-started with a bang and recorded historic numbers. IPL, since its inception, has not just been an audience entertainer but a global event that brands look forward to. Industry sources revealed that last year Swiggy and Zomato planned to spend a combined of Rs 175 crore on marketing and discounts during IPL - an attempt to revive pre-COVID targets.

On the relationship between Cricket and food and Swiggy’s association with IPL, the brand comments, “Sports, entertainment and food go hand-in-hand and we believe it was the perfect opportunity for our brand to engage with consumers in a seamless manner. Ordering food via Swiggy while watching and enjoying their sporting event of choice is something, we believe has become intuitive and almost automatic. Swiggy has been associated with the T20 tournament for the last two years. The partnership with India's biggest television entertainment spectacle, which draws millions of people and cricket fans – is a great platform for our brand as it places us right where the consumer is present organically. The T20 season presents a unique opportunity to maximize contextuality and reach of our campaign, with users tuning in every day to catch the cricket action on television and on Hotstar.”

And as far as the online food ordering category is concerned, this is not just limited to the two leading food-tech platforms i.e Swiggy and Zomato that cash-in big but also restaurants and cloud kitchens that ride high on the sporting event’s wave. Substantial spike in orders is expected and a plan for operational challenges is put in place accordingly during the 2 odd months of the bonanza. AD Singh, Managing Director, Olive Group of Restaurants (owns Monkey Bar, SodaBottleOpenerWala, and Fatty Bao), said, “Big sporty events like the IPL can bring back food delivery business to pre-Covid-19 levels.” Cricketing events in particular, with the sport’s popularity, massive reach across geographies and audience ranging from teens to elderly becomes a group watch experience. Karyna Bajaj, Executive director at KA Hospitality (owns CinCin, Nara, Yauatcha, Hakkasan) said that people don’t tend to cook during matches as friends and family get together, hence increasing delivery sales.

Over the years, brand communication curated around IPL has also become an integral part of riding the momentary wave. In the last few years, brands like Swiggy and Zomato have left no stone unturned to leverage this opportunity. Both the brands become fairly active during the IPL season with humorous social media posts and ad films.

When asked about the ad films that Swiggy actively releases during the IPL season, Srivats said, “The core message of the T20 themed TVCs is simple as it highlights how Swiggy is allowing consumers the convenience of enjoying the cricketing action while it takes care of all their food needs. Shot in an entertaining and tongue-in-cheek manner, the ads were inspired by everyday situations with simple storylines and minimum dialogues. In what has become Swiggy’s signature style, they were sprinkled with cricket commentary from Harsha Bhogle like ‘fans have stomped the ground’ and ‘batsmen showing very little intent here’, keeping them both relevant and humorous. The ads also brought alive the convenience users turn to Swiggy for, while also underlining the brand’s benefits in a likable and engaging manner.”

The broadcasting of campaigns on television gives brands like Swiggy an opportunity to reach out to a wider audience and along with metros, helps in tapping into the Tier-2 and Tier-3 markets. While digital consumption has been increasing year-on-year, Television still delivers a reach to brands that is unmatched. There has been an increase in brands creating regional campaigns to be able to converse with the audiences in their preferred languages. Sports, especially cricket in India has grown to become a collective viewing experience, and TV gives the opportunity to reach out to them as a unit.

On the audience and demographics, Srivats TS, VP marketing, Swiggy, comments “While our core consumption audience lies in the 18-40 age bracket, we’ve seen a growth in consumers outside of that TG as well. And during the cricketing season, there is an opportunity to appeal to a wider demographic who are connected by their love for entertainment, food and having both of these delivered to them in the most convenient and seamless manner. Also, during the T20 season (IPL), viewership amongst both genders is high and is a one-of-a-kind sporting event that families watch together, which gives us the opportunity to reach out and speak to them as a collective.”

With the majority of the audience confined to their homes, for food brands delivering online, this marked as a golden opportunity to leverage the event in creating brand awareness, and further increasing order rate. As per marketing research company, Kantar, Swiggy saw a 30% increase in orders during match days and more than one million daily active users during the course of the event. IPL 2020 last year acted as an anchor for the marketing and advertising fraternity in stabling the slowdown. The event attracted over 405 million eyeballs - the highest ever viewership for any edition. Hence, proving the event’s potential in not just brand building but in brand reviving as well.

<The inputs from Swiggy are based on their interaction with afaqs! on IPL 2019 and previous editions.>