We have seen the importance of delivery increasing in these times: Arvind RP, McDonald's

Arvind RP, Director of Marketing and Communications, McDonald's India shares the brand’s post-lockdown strategy, upcoming campaigns and more

e4m by Anjana Naskar
Updated: Jun 18, 2020 8:52 AM
Arvind R P

McDonald’s India has now resumed operations at more than 100 of its restaurants after a gap of almost two months.

Arvind RP, Director of Marketing and Communications, McDonald's India speaks about the brand’s upcoming campaigns and how it has been focusing on the health and immunity factors.

Edited excerpts:

Even as the lockdown is being lifted, what impact has the COVID-19 pandemic had on your business and the overall QSR industry in general?

The lockdown has definitely affected the industry because the restaurants were shut. That’s true for the whole industry, but our delivery channels have been active. We were more active in May because April was the peak of the lockdown period. However, the response to our delivery service has been pretty enthusiastic. Overall, we have seen the importance of delivery really increasing, including these times, and the months following this.

But, it is only now that we have opened up dine-in and take out in most states, for example, Karnataka, Kerala, parts of Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Gujarat. Also, take-away has seen an excellent response from consumers. We have the largest number of drive-thrus in India and we have seen a great response, even in smaller cities. While there has been a significant impact, we have been focusing on restarting operations, taking our health and hygiene standards to the next level, and making sure that we are promoting convenience to our customers.

Many brands have come up with marketing campaigns after the imposition of the lockdown. What about McDonald’s?

Very soon! We have been waiting for the lockdown to lift and our operations to resume, which has now happened. So, we plan to bring out our campaign very soon. It will focus on convenience, which is very important in today’s context, across various categories, where people prefer delivery to home, delivery to offices, in case offices resume, rather than go out. Therefore, delivery is going to be a very important channel. We also launched take-away on our app and one can pre-order the food through the app. Now you don’t have to wait in a queue, you can pre-order and pick up your food when it’s ready.

 Tell us a bit about McDonald's contribution to the relief efforts in the fight against COVID-19.

In all our key markets, we have been working with our NGOs and delivering food to the needy people. We are very happy to see that our effort has been successful and we have been able to do our bit for the society. In May, we tied up with Salaam Bombay, which works very closely with BMC. One of the issues we realized as far as helping the needy is concerned is that some of the areas receive more food than required while some get nothing at all. Salaam Bombay has got a very innovative mechanism, wherein working with BMC they know which areas really need food and the focus is on that. So we have tied up with them through the months of May and June for a programme called ‘meals for good’.

 More than 100 McDonald’s restaurants have now re-opened across the country; what measures are you taking to ensure the safety of customers?

There are two aspects here - the safety of our customers and the safety of our crew members. Both are important and we've taken many steps to make sure we cater to both. We’ve provided safety gear like masks, gloves and global standard sanitizers to all our restaurants. All our restaurants’ leadership teams have undergone specific training on COVID-19 over the past two months. FSSAI, which is a regulatory authority, conducted regular health and safety programmes. Apart from that, we just launched a safety checklist which encompasses delivery, take-away and dining. It ensures social distancing, for example, many a time when there are a lot of delivery orders and people gather outside the store. It even helps the delivery people to maintain social distance. We do regular checks of our employees and we are also ensuring contactless delivery.

 People have now become more health-conscious because of the pandemic. Is McDonald’s coming up with any new variants or making changes in the current menu, keeping the immunity and health factors in mind?

Even before the current crisis, this has been one of our focus areas for many years. We have been undertaking various measures and we will continue to keep up those efforts to make sure our customers get the best. We launched a whole-wheat bun for our workers a year back. And, of course, the nutrition value of the whole-wheat bun is much higher and we got excellent feedback. We've also been reducing sodium from many of our food items besides other efforts to improve the health quotient of our menu, and communicating with customers. Needless to say, all of these efforts have been deeply appreciated by customers. So, we do a lot of work in the background and find out what’s right from a nutrition value angle and keep introducing such innovations.

 How do you anticipate consumers to behave in the new normal and what role do you think marketing will play in the post-COVID world for QSR brands?

I think consumers will prefer brands over unbranded; especially the big brands that assure trust and safety, which is inherent in them. In the context of food, customers would pick up trusted brands as opposed to others in the new normal. Convenience is another aspect; rather than waiting in crowded areas, people will opt for take-away or drive-thrus, which ensure safety. So convenience is going to be very important. Also, customers will search for good value for money packages, and value for money doesn't just mean low price, but the best value at that price. McDonald's gives that kind of safety and assurance apart from favourites like aloo tikki, Maharaja Mac and fries which people are craving today.

 Looking at the current scenario, what specific areas will you be focusing on, going forward?

It will be exactly leveraging the trends that I mentioned earlier. The first is about the fact that it's a trusted and safe choice for customers. We have always been scoring very well on breakfast. That's something we are going to talk to customers about because in this new normal, customers are looking for those specific choices. The second is promoting delivery and take-away, i.e., promoting convenience and that’s going to be a huge focus for us in the near future.

 What distinctive change have you witnessed in your business in this overall pandemic situation?

There has been a lot of talk that Tier II markets are bouncing back faster than some of the metro markets. There have been so many examples of that, even in the McDonald’s context. We have a store in Bharuch, which is called a drive-thru, apart from dine-in. In this current situation, people prefer our drive-thru service more, because it's safe and convenient. And the sales from the outlet at Bharuch is much higher than what it used to be, compared to dine-in in the past. We have been pleasantly surprised by those numbers, which really show the demand in Tier II markets like Bharuch.

For more updates, be socially connected with us on
WhatsApp, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook & Youtube