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Introduction

Marketing is no longer about the stuff you make, but about the stories you tell. Seth Godin, 2017

As per Seth Godin, one of the most famous faces in the digital world, marketing is constantly evolving and in today’s new age, it is more about the connections that are created and more so than the selling product. (Stewart, 2015)

Today, digitization is influencing every daily aspect and companies are revolutionizing their way of doing business, as they must face the inevitably this new situation and they must use the innovative tools offered by the internet is the method that enables them to do so.

With the rapid increase in development of digital India, the hospitality industry, especially hotels and restaurants, have started to understand the importance of this medium and more so have realized that they must be a part of it as soon as possible if they want to stay in the race. As a result, the hospitality and tourism industries are the most affected by the development.

In order to perform well and gain competitive advantages, organizations and brands are constantly looking for the newest and greatest ways to reach their buyer’s personality and tailor make their offerings to their target market. (Bovykina, 2016)

One such company that is practicing this technique and is at the top of their game is Zomato or Zomato.com, an international restaurant search and discovery service, founded by Deepinder Goyal and Pankaj Chaddah in the year 2008. It is a company that provides cashless payment, online ordering, table reservations and point-of-sale systems as a part of their digital move.

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Literature Review

With the evolution of technology in the food industry, people had started to realize how hard it was getting to search for good or in fact decent restaurants beyond their neighborhoods. As they started learning about them, their requirements shifted to knowing about the type of cuisine that was served there and the price range, so that it could be determined to know whether it fit their budget. This is where the founders of Zomato stepped in with their ground breaking perspective of discovering a medium that would solve everyone’s “restaurant hunting” problems. It had started out with a simple yet foundational idea – an internet directory for restaurant menus. (Jani, 2018) Though there had been ventures in the similar field before, they didn’t turn out to be very successful and hence didn’t last very long. This is mainly because they weren’t organized and executed as was Zomato.

As per a case study done on Zomato, which was earlier known as Foodiebay, it had emerged as a restaurant searching platform providing comprehensive information with real and reliable reviews and ratings. After the company was renamed in 2010, their very own smartphone application was introduced in 2011.

Marketing Mix of Zomato

Product – Since Zomato was primarily an online based search engine for restaurants, its main product was the information that was offered to their customers that would equip them to make an informed decision in concern to the outlet they choose to dine at. Menu cards, photos of the eatery and most importantly the comments and ratings of every person who chose to review the area. This was even more important for those restaurants that didn’t have their own website. Alongside table reservation, a cloud kitchen had also been launched in Southwest Delhi. A very recent development to the app is the introduction of Zomato Gold – a very exclusive dine out and social drinking membership program which is a form of a luxurious loyalty program for customers who are willing to subscribe to it to avail the extended special perks.

Price – Zomato’s revenue generation is directly from the restaurants whose information is put up on their page. They channelize their income from the advertisements, for example, the sponsored and bannered ads, the restaurant bookings and event ticketing made to/from the specific restaurant. Restaurant bookings or online ordering is charged at between 8-18% of the sales depending on the significant classification of the restaurant.

Place – Being an online website and a mobile application, Zomato can be accessed through Windows, Android and IOS software’s. It is currently available for use in about 23 countries with at least 90 million visits every month. Not only is it virtually available is has become virtually communicable as well, since it has been translated into ten different international languages like English, Turkish, Spanish and Indonesian to name a few.

Promotion – Zomato has a very unique strategy as it broadly uses photos and visuals to promote their products. They have become very successful in content marketing in this manner. They have also played an important role in making use of social media to promote their brand and products. They creatively use simple jargons to capture the different demography’s that they want to target.

The main growth strategy of Zomato was to go grow continuously and increase their customer traffic, thereby increase their funds. With this objective in mind, they were able to make a profit 37 million dollars by November 2013, when they had started off with only one million by mid-2010.

As the website was launched, it became extremely popular and soon expanded rapidly, first within the country and then going overseas. The website is now covering a list of over 100,000 restaurants across 23 regions catering to more than 20 million people globally. It is also providing a career opportunity to more than 400 people all over the world. (Rituraj, 2015)

The newest and most innovative feature of Zomato is their paid subscription membership-cum-loyalty program – Zomato Gold. Though launched only a few months ago, it already has more than 200,000 subscribers and 2000+ restaurants that have joined this initiative. The reason for this fast growing success, according to CEO Goyal, is their idea of going old school and just “keeping it simple.”

The concept behind launching this program is to show quality vs. quantity. They decided to get only the best restaurants on board, based on their popularity and prioritizing the partnerships they have with these companies. They made sure, out of the 100k plus eateries on their site, they targeted less than 1% of them, with a good mix. The main idea of this was to enable the user with a good sample to consider for different occasions before eating out. This innovative idea became viral and subscribers were delighted as they felt it offered great value and continued to be a key proposition driver. It not only made it quite affordable to them but also helped them experience and explore new restaurants. Statistics also proved this as it was recorded that over 80% of the people subscribed to Gold visited many restaurants for the first time after becoming a member and were always satisfied after their experience. It turned out to be a real eye opener for “foodies” and also boosted the brand positioning of many new and upcoming restaurants, who wanted to be discovered. (Goyal, 2018)

Discussion and Observation

The main objective of this company was to create a connection between restaurants, ready to provide amazing experience, and people who are in search of them. With a dedicated engagement and management tools, Zomato is enabling restaurants to spend more time in focusing on food itself, which transforms into better dining experiences. (DSIM, 2015)

Zomato, being an online startup company, did not have much recognition back then as not many people were familiar with the process of online food ordering. It was understood that they required a certain opportunity to create an impression on their target customer, who were basically anyone with an internet connection. It was then when Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest became their three main interfaces that made for the foundation level success of Zomato which created a deep presence among their customers. Zomato also have their own blog that they use as their messenger to share all the latest updates.

There is a huge engagement with customers on these social networking sites and Zomato has been able to form a strong community with them on all three platforms. The interaction level is very high as they make sure to answer 90% of the queries that they receive on their wall, on a day to day basis. They try to share their food experiences with great content to attract their customers. Recently, they have started making their presence on Instagram and initiated the campaign, where people who want to share their experience can upload a photograph on their personal wall with the #Zomato and Zomato would repost that on their wall. This helped Zomato boost the number of followers they had and their value in the market started to rise even more, as they now have more 150,000 followers on their Indian page and more than 60,000 followers on their UAE page.

Other than that, Zomato had broadly capitalized a lot of their finances over Social Media Optimization (SMO) and Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and have worked in developing their business design to make it more user friendly. (DSIM, 2015)

From the maketing style of Zomato, as mentioned earlier, it is understood that they succeeded in their marketiing strategy, highlighting a few of them – (Techshu, 2015)

They’re website was always full of colors. They were able to efficiently use various pictures and photographs to provide their audience with a pictorial representation of how their food was going to turn out to look like, which was pure entertainment offered to the customers. The pictures not only give an idea to the person, but also provide a clear message on the status of the restaurant. The design of the website, the quality of information and the ease of navigation from one step to the other is what attract the customers the most and eventually brings them back.

Zomato not only preaches to be different, but they also constantly prove it with their work. They deliver the same message but in a different style every time. This makes their social media updates unique, even though the concept is already known. This is mainly because of the highly imaginative ideation and design team and a persistent keenness to create something new.

They’re algorithm is designed in such a manner that they are successful in always bringing forward something relevant and worthwhile around the most talk-able events and occasions. This is done, as mentioned above, with their relatable visuals.

They are all about consistency, as their social media page is regularly updated with the new things or offers that they are providing or is available on their website. These posts are very engaging as their audience cannot resist themselves from going through them.

They stick to the niche. Since Zomato is part of the food industry, and their target market are food lovers or “foodies”, they make sure to create images that are related to food or the behavior of foodies. They are able to create that link between their service and content.

A spin off to the previous theme, the fact is that is able to understand the methods of caters to their audiences. Understanding the psychology of the buyer along with having a clear perception are two main strengths of this brand.

Every business has competitors and so is the case of Zomato’s, whose major counterparts seem to be Swiggy and Food Panda – both online food delivery companies. However, according to CEO Goyal, who has been able to successfully handle and ride the business for nine years, believes that online food delivery isn’t sufficient enough to remain in the foodtech business. As per Goyal, money spent on acquisition and marrketing is minimal on their behalf. They have a strong search and discovery product wherein users extract a lot of information leading to stronger network effects. He also believes that, after having reduced their operating losses and cash burn, their main agenda is to identify methods in fighting their competition in the future. (Chatterjee, 2018)

Conclusion

As per various case studies and research findings, the following points have been put forth in the SWOT Analysis of Zomato

SWOT Analysis

Strength

They are internationally ranked no.1 in the online restaurant business which gives them a huge edge over their competitors and also boosts their brand image.

They have a strong website of their own which has millions of visitors every month. They also have their own mobile app which also aids in increasing network.

Due to their very successful business model, they are known for their relevant sitelinks which leads customers to relevant tabs and thereby increases number of clicks on ads.

Since most of the information is user-generated content, through reviews and ratings, this is constantly updated and there seems to be a high volume of returning users.

Weakness

There is no cross channel promotion on their websites, thereby they don’t have any social plug-ins, i.e., like, share or comment buttons.

There is less to no personalization for frequent customers on their website. They do not have a “Recommended For You” feature on their website or app, based on previous orders, which might make the experience faster and better for their customers.

Opportunities

With the developments and upgrades done in the website and app, over the years, they have started increasing popularity in Ireland.

After a successful experimentation of technology in India, Zomato should start thinking about global expansion, especially, in the European countries as they have a really good chance because of various avenues that could be explores in the beverage section.

They can take advantage of the keyword data trends available to execute more SEM – Search Engine Marketing.

Threats

One of the main threats that Zomato is facing right now in the increased competition. Other brands like Swiggy and Food Panda, which were formed way after Zomato, are now neck to neck with them.

Due to this competition factor, loyalty of customers is will play a huge interference, unless they differentiate themselves from others.

Hacking and cybercrime issues also pose a threat to them as they require personal details from customer during registration process.

With the world moving towards making health conscious, cosmopolitan young adults, CEO Goyal has come up with a new strategy for their venture for the future, where their company would be doing business directly from local farmers and supplying these raw ingredients to restaurant chains, near and far. The digital marketting strategy they plan to use is through the usage of online tags and certificates, which would be provided to those restaurants who use this service, thereby alerting their users about the quality ingredients.

People usually make fast decisions when it comes to smartphone searches. Zomato sends out messages with the right kind of image. They not only preach to be different but they also prove it through their work. This makes their social media updates unique, even with an old fashioned concept. For a markting strategy to be successful, one must know how to keep their audience engaged. One should be clear about who they are catering to.

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