Opportunities on the menu for OOH as restaurants set to re-open in Mumbai?

OOH leaders analyse brand opportunities, learnings from other cities and DOOH amplification under MHA guidelines as restaurants in Mumbai finally re-open in October ahead of the festive season

e4m by Noel Dsouza
Updated: Oct 1, 2020 2:16 PM
Restaurants Revival in Mumbai

After sustaining businesses only on home deliveries for six months, restaurants and bars in Mumbai can heave a sigh of relief. The Maharashtra government will finally allow restaurants to re-open from October first week as part of Unlock 5.

This is a welcome move for OOH players who have had trouble gaining visibility during the lockdown. The Maharashtra CM has assured that four lakh restaurants and bars would be allowed to resume. This will increase the out-of-home footfalls along with the essential traffic mobility rate that has increased due to work commutes.

e4m spoke to OOH leaders on whether the new relaxation will provide opportunities to help revive the out-of-home industry or whether DOOH will thrive amidst the new guidelines.

Arijit Chakrabarti, Head of Strategy, Kinetic India states, “We have been tracking the pandemic very closely from the perspective of audiences and mobility. As per the latest data curated by the agency, Mumbai has achieved a near 80% audience recovery as per IOM (India On The Move), which is specifically developed to understand audience numbers during the pandemic. These numbers are expected to get further bolstered with Navratras from the 17th October onwards.”

Speaking about the impact of the festive season on the reopening, Chakrabarti believes that the period of festivities and increased out-of-home presence will initially be tempered by the fear of COVID-19 infections. But on the back of two factors, namely milder temperatures across India and the onset of the festival season, the reopening of restaurants and bars could not have come at a more opportune time.

"This will also add to demand key ingredients like ‘sugar’ and other produce, which faced reduced demand during the critical lockdown phase and give an overall boost to the economy. This is a virtuous circle which would ultimately result in greater mobility numbers albeit keeping in safety and social distancing,” he added

According to Gulab Patil, Founder, CEO, Lemma the timing of re-opening of restaurants couldn’t have been better as it coincides with the onset of the festive planning for most brands. He states, “A recent study cites that over 31% of people are willing to visit the restaurant almost immediately or within 2 weeks of it opening. This sentiment is highest in the maximum city Mumbai with over 48% willing to visit the restaurants once they re-open. This decision will certainly help in bringing some level of relief to the screen owners as well as organizations like ours wherein, it gives us more options to present to the client both in terms of screens and most importantly audience mix.”

Upinder Singh, Project Director, Edge1 Outdoor Media Management Software also shared similar sentiments about the verdict coinciding with the festive season. “It's almost that time of the year when brands go completely gaga. With the start of the festival season, there will be a slow start and eventually due to COVID, it will be a substantial jump in audience movement so every business will try to take advantage of the season. With the opening of restaurants, the more people will be outdoors and it will be the ray of hope for OOH. This new normal will be a new way of experiencing the old normal things.”

DOOH Opportunities under MHA Guidelines

Ashutosh Sharma, Head-Demand Business, Moving Walls, sharing his perspective says, "With the onset of the festive season and opening of resto-bars coinciding with ongoing IPL, we expect a large number of people to come out and travel around and as a result revitalize the OOH. With mandatory checks and safety measures in place, we expect the POP (Resto - Bars) to get boosted which in turn would give a boost to surrogate brands which were shying away to communicate due to lockdown. We also see this OOH ecosystem benefitting from the mandatory display of COVID-19 rules to be displayed across various public spheres. This can also enable brands to find new opportunities to connect with the customers and relate to them on a more personal and contextual basis. Brands dealing in sanitisers, face masks, health and hygiene will gain maximum traction. Moving Walls can help reach to such audiences, measure campaigns on a hyperlocal level, help optimise spends on such locations and add a hyperlocal mobile layer to communicate with a set of pre-defined TG for category/brand-specific communications."

A prominent player in the F&B ecosystem when it comes to DOOH inventories is Eyetalk Media Ventures. MD Gautam Bhirani gives us the lowdown: “Under MHA guidelines, digital signage displaying COVID-19 safety measures in restaurants has been made mandatory with sanitation and temperature check, which makes our network a key communication driver for delivering dining rules in the new normal keeping diners connected, aware and informed. With our latest tools developed for the F&B industry, we have recently launched our online ‘SaaS’ based model to extend the digitization drive across the country. The adaptation will certainly boost our network of 350+ premium eateries by 30-40% in a month or two. It will give brands a huge opportunity to reach millennials across metros in context and in a captive environment at a click of a button, driving cost-effective data-driven measurable digital campaigns.”

Bhirani remarked, “COVID-19 has accelerated the digital shift. The pandemic, perhaps more than any other business disruption, clearly highlights the benefits of digital signage solutions, and businesses seeking to remain competitive will continue to lean into this technology as we settle into a new normal.”

Patil says, “The number of screens will not translate into more visibility but the actual audience count and relevancy of the ad at any given point will. Strategic use of these screens and a clear ratio of ads to public service content should be aligned to ensure that audience is shown the right message and not bombarded with ads alone."

This, he says, can be executed conveniently using time-band based ad scheduling and dynamic ad rendering capabilities with pDOOH. Patil adds, "The dwell time offered with the new rules will certainly give brands additional time with audiences however with respect to data; new information in terms of the ‘new normal’ can be gathered by conducting surveys on location. In our case, footfall and other data will be updated on our AI planning tool in real-time using advanced technology like IoT beacons, camera sensors, mobile intelligence, third party data and more, giving brands recent data to work with and not rely on obsolete information for optimal OOH planning.”

Singh states, “In most of the restaurants, the staff is being trained to safely handle customers by following hygiene routines promoted by the government. But it will be great if these safety measures are highlighted on the DOOH screens, then audiences will be more cautious. As per multiple surveys PPE kits, hand sanitizers, health insurance companies will be gaining more share in this post-lockdown environment. DOOH inventories will be crucial in this new normal as audiences will opt for more contactless dining experiences in the restaurants. It would be a great opportunity for brands to reach audiences in a captive environment and personalized content.”

Learnings to take away from other cities

Bhirani observes, “With Unlock 4 restaurants, pubs and cafes resumed services in Delhi, Gurugram, Bengaluru and Hyderabad after six months. The resumption of services was timed perfectly with IPL ,which has helped the restaurant industry bounce back as millennials returned to their favourite hangout spots in large numbers to catch the excitement of IPL and offers around it. Operating at 50% capacity under MHA Guidelines, there has been a 10-12% surge in footfalls week on week basis with an average of 40-45% pre-COVID footfalls.”

Talking about how the relaxation has boosted DOOH advertising, Bhirani points out, “Making most of this opportunity, brands have started campaigns on TagTalk - our F&B DOOH network and with the restaurant industry opening now in Maharashtra, it will further help boost ad revenue as the state accounts for almost 55% of our network alone.”

Chakrabarti highlighted lessons from Delhi where restaurants were open from the first week of June. "The response to it improved gradually due to then applicable curfew restrictions, post 9 pm daily lockdowns and lack of staff, as many of them had yet to return post-lockdown. However, this time with the graded response and an advance notice towards Unlock 5.0 – both these factors should have minimal effect on dampening the resilient spirit of Mumbai. We expect the OOH numbers to climb well above the pre-COVID mobility benchmark numbers as people will not only commute but also start exhibiting higher levels of dwell-time at critical touchpoints. This would give the much-needed boost to digitization helping increase investments on pDOOH screens typically found at such touchpoints," he says.

 

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