Pooja Yadav

Popeyes and Coca-Cola India prepare to bowl over cricket fans with World Cup combos

Amid rapid QSR industry growth, the brand aims to establish a nationwide presence with a focus on local sourcing and a digital-first ethos.

Popeyes, the American fast-food chain renowned for its Louisiana-style Cajun fried chicken, made its debut in India in January 2022 with a restaurant in Bangalore. Since its inception, the brand has expanded its footprint, with 12 restaurants in Bangalore and one each in Chennai and Hyderabad. Popeyes India, a brand from Jubilant FoodWorks Limited, is charting ambitious plans for India's market.

As the fast-food industry undergoes rapid transformations and adaptations in recent years, it begs the question: How does Popeyes India stay ahead of the trends and maintain its relevance in the market?

Popeyes India's strategy extends beyond its physical outlets and culinary offerings. The brand has been increasingly focusing on events, partnerships, and sports to connect with its audience.

Recently, Popeyes India joined forces with Coca-Cola India to introduce World Cup Combos, aligning with the anticipation surrounding the upcoming ODI World Cup.

"Our main focus is on millennials. We pay close attention to the trends they follow," says Gaurav Pande.

Gaurav Pande, executive vice president and business head, Popeyes India explains, “Our main focus is on millennials, the younger generation. We pay close attention to the trends they follow. We know that cricket and global events are a big deal to them.”

The World Cup combos are available from September 15 to October 30. The brand has set aside approximately 10 to 15% of its annual budget for this campaign.

Elaborating on the rationale behind this collaboration, Pande notes that when people gather at home to watch matches with their families, it's a wonderful opportunity for family bonding and enjoying a meal together.

“In today's times, home food delivery is quite popular. So, we saw this as a perfect moment to bring together these two beloved elements – cricket and our food – both of which have their own fan base. It's a fantastic way for families to come together, relish some cricket action, and enjoy our offerings as they follow the matches over the next month during the Cup.”

Recognising that the consumer often either orders individually or for two people, the brand's combos are tailored accordingly.

“Our Meal for 2 combos is a perfect example, featuring two of our flagship chicken sandwiches, a fan-favourite that has created a sensation wherever it's served. These combos are complemented by our signature chicken, a side of fries, and refreshing beverages,” shares Pande.

Popeyes and Coca-Cola India prepare to bowl over cricket fans with World Cup combos

Additionally, there are single-served combos, each highlighting a core dish, be it chicken or a sandwich, paired with fries and a beverage to complete the meal. These combos bear unique names inspired by cricketing terminology, such as the "Fine Leg Combo”, or the "Wicket Keeper" and "All Rounder" combos, reflecting our playful nod to the world of cricket.

The brand’s partnership with Coke is a long-term collaboration and has been in place since the inception of its stores.

In 2022, the brand also joined hands with the Bangalore Football Club in the Indian Super League (ISL). Popeyes sponsored the club, including the jersey sponsorship.

Aims to become a Pan-India brand

With a global presence encompassing nearly 4,200+ restaurants, Popeyes is poised for expansion in India. Within the next 12 months, the brand plans to establish 50 stores, and its goal is to have 250 outlets in the medium term. This expansion underscores Popeyes' unwavering dedication to introducing its globally renowned flavours to diverse regions across India.

Pande explains that Popeyes' approach to sourcing and delivering its products in India revolves around local procurement from nearby farms and a robust chilled supply chain. This strategy emphasises the importance of establishing backend infrastructure before expanding further. The initial focus has been on expanding in the southern regions of the country.

While the company plans to extend its presence to other parts of India, the core operational model will remain consistent. The aim is to avoid providing frozen chicken dishes to consumers, recognising that there's a notable difference in product experience between frozen and fresh food. Ensuring the highest level of freshness is a top priority for the brand.

To achieve this goal, the brand plans to replicate the successful backend model established in Bangalore across the country.

"The expansion strategy will initially target the northern regions of India, with backend capabilities already in development for the western regions."

Pande says, “Currently, all food is supplied from Bangalore, but the plan is to establish supply hubs in different regions of India. This will involve sourcing and distributing food products nationwide, ultimately allowing for nationwide expansion. The expansion strategy will initially target the northern regions of India, with backend capabilities already in development for the western regions and plans for expansion into the eastern regions later on.”

"The objective is to become a pan-India brand."

He adds, “The objective is to become a pan-India brand, maintaining the quality and freshness of its offerings as it continues to grow and serve customers across the country.”

Technological advancements

The Quick Service Restaurants (QSR) market in India recorded a valuation of Rs 171.90 billion in FY 2022. As per projections by Research and Markets, India's QSR market is poised to exceed $16.72 Billion in 2023. With increasing demand and the rapid emergence of new stores, the domestic QSR industry is anticipated to achieve impressive year-on-year growth of 20-25% in FY2024, ultimately reaching $32.22 billion by 2028, displaying a robust Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 14.2%.

Key players in the domestic QSR sector encompass well-known names like Domino’s Pizza, Dunkin’ Donuts, Haldiram’s, Adyar Ananda Bhavan, Barista, Burger King Corp., Cafe Coffee Day, Yum Brands (including KFC), McDonald’s Corp., Pizza Hut, Starbucks Corp., and Subway. How does Jubilant FoodWorks plan to strategically position Popeyes in the Indian market to compete with other established fast-food chains? 

“ Our expertise keeps us ahead of the curve. Moreover, our forward-thinking approach is evident in our technological advancements, as we embrace a digital-first ethos. For instance, we introduced self-ordering kiosks, a concept yet to make its mark in India. Our app was launched on day one, and we established our self-delivery fleet right from the start, equipped with 100% e-bikes. Our app boasts a 4.3 rating on both Android and iOS platforms, firmly positioning it as one of the top-rated apps in the quick-service restaurant (QSR) sector,” highlights Pande.

He adds that the brand continues to enhance its service in this aspect as an increasing number of consumers, particularly tech-savvy millennials, are seeking cutting-edge interfaces. 

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