While denizens of Delhi NCR love eating out more elaborately in standalone restaurants, their counterparts in Bengaluru and Mumbai prefer on-the-go meals. That is the finding of American Express’ recently launched ‘Dining Industry Insights — India Market’ survey, which demonstrated the highest growth rate in QSR (quick service restaurants)/takeaways for Mumbai and Bengaluru, at 63% and 67%, respectively, in 2016-17, but Delhi NCR came up trumps in the casual dining space logging in 54% growth. The three-metro sample size for the survey was carved out of the 1.08 million Amex card holders in India, as per Reserve Bank of India records. “Our analysis shows that India’s reputation as a nation of food lovers is well deserved, with growth in many areas driven by digital technology and a desire for variety. While the average transaction size in the fine-dining segment will continue to lead the way, quick service restaurants and casual dining segments are growing at a fast pace as eating out is now not only limited to special occasions but is becoming a matter of convenience,” notes Manoj Adlakha, CEO of American Express India.
Zorawar Kalra, founder & MD, Massive Restaurants, which owns new-age fine-dining concepts such as Masala Library and Farzi Cafe, is categorical about what drives the national capital region to casual dining over QSRs: Looser purse strings and easier reach. “Of course, Delhi has a high-spending culture apart from ease of accessibility to satellite towns like Gurgaon and Noida, where the bulk of the high-spending population, such as HNIs (high net worth individuals) and corporates live and work,” he says. As for Mumbai and Bengaluru, Kalra blames it on long distances and longer commutes that eat into casual dining and favour an on-the-go food culture. “In India, the highest percentage of gross disposable income spend resides in Gurgaon,” adds Kalra. The Amex survey’s observation is corroborated by fast-food major McDonald’s India, which has seen significant traction in its Mumbai and Bengaluru outlets.
“The QSR industry in Mumbai and Bengaluru has been on a strong growth trajectory driven by a cosmopolitan culture and demography that is open to eating out frequently and sampling a variety of cuisines on offer… McDonald’s has been at the forefront of identifying these trends and has continuously evolved its menu to meet the needs of customers further propelling our footfalls through all day-parts,” says Seema Arora Nambiar, senior vice-president, strategy, innovation & capability, McDonald’s India. Even KFC India echoes the trend. “The India QSR market is at interesting junction where eating out is being determined not just by ‘value’ but also convenience and the search for newer, more authentic experiences. This is more pointed in metros, including Bengaluru, where growing disposable incomes and busier lifestyles are resulting in consumers eating out more often,” says Rahul Shinde, MD, KFC India. Back in Delhi, food connoisseur and founder, Indian Food Freak, Pawan Soni, maintains that “the Gurgaon effect has seen a high concentration of MNCs and expats eating out in casual and fine-dining spaces”. So Soni credits Gurgaon to be the hub of casual dining countrywide since HNIs have both residences and corporate offices in this very affluent corner of the region. Interestingly, Soni also points out that the burgeoning online delivery space in NCR is eating into the QSR arena.