A famous proverbs states, “Necessity is the mother of invention.” We are seeing this wisdom bear out in real time as cloud kitchens/restaurants race to adapt to the COVID-19 crisis. This pandemic is illustrating both the resolve and inexhaustible ability of restaurants to innovate and find new business avenues as they shift their entire sales models overnight.
“Anything we can do to keep the business alive. It’s vital,” says Deepak Maheshwari, Co- Founder & Director, Zing Hotels.
With 86k cases being added daily, the COVID-19 situation in India seems bleaker now. The opening of restaurants and bars, did not change the situation much as most of them are witnessing exceedingly reduced footfalls. But thankfully most people are ordering food now. So, several cloud/dark kitchens have risen up to the occasion and are adopting stringent food safety measures and have also modified their menus by adding healthier options.
Here are some of the most creative promotional ideas and promos we’ve seen marquee cloud kitchens adopting in recent times:
Unconventional and Healthy Foods in the Menu
With nutrition issues increasingly occupying the headlines in India, the need for innovative and multi-sectoral action is greater than ever especially during Covid times where immunity has become the new buzz word. So, a lot of brands are altering their menus and adding healthier food options.
If you think of momos as the forbidden fruit, post lockdown-Momo King is here to change this belief. The Himalayan momo chain has introduced a number of healthy items on its menu-without compromising on taste. Apart from the regular comforting Darjeeling and Nepali momos that they have including the wide range of Thukpas, Kothey, Cholia and Laska, the new range of healthy momos that have been introduced are definitely the need of the hour.
Creative Coronavirus Specials
Kitchens are speaking to their customers’ current experiences with specials and promotions tailored to the lockdown. Everyone needs a bit of levity right now, and specials like Quarantine Kits, Lockdown Lunches, Social Distancing Desserts, and Stay Home Package help distinguish the takeout. Some restaurants have taken it a step further by including sanitizers and other essential supplies with their orders.
“To boost our takeout, we’ve added something called ‘Family pack for 4 ‘says Rahul Pandit, Paradise Biryani. We’ve taken our top entrees and now you can get Biryani enough for four people, for what it would cost for three people in the restaurant.”
Not all dishes work well for takeout. Some meals can’t be easily packaged, and certain foods will lose their heat or texture in transit. Cloud Kitchens have adapted to the problem by creating heat-and-eat dishes. These dishes can be frozen or refrigerated, prepared in quantity ahead of time, and sold via delivery. They’re a great work around for restaurants who never considered takeout when planning their menu.
Cloud kitchens have taken the heat-and-eat option a step further by introducing meal kits. They’re deconstructing their favorite dishes, packaging the ingredients with instructions, and delivering them as meal kits to their hungry customers. Not only are meal kits a fun divergence from typical takeout fare, they’re generally more cost-effective for the average family looking to feed four to five people.
While meal kit services have become a fixture over the past few years, the subscription service model represents all-new terrain for restaurants. Prior to COVID-19, purchasing a meal subscription from your favorite restaurant did not even exist as a concept except Eat.fit and a few other brands. Now, it’s become the latest innovation in a yearlong shift away from tradition restaurant sales towards takeout. Customers sign up for a plan with their favorite restaurant, and their meals are delivered or picked up at a predetermined time. Subscriptions provide business with steady, reliable income amidst all the uncertainty.
With mere hours to collect themselves after the closure orders were sent out, many restaurants are reckoning with what to do with surplus inventory. To move the inventory before it spoils, several restaurants have started selling their ingredients in bulk, either to other business or directly to the consumers, sometimes right from the store.
At this point, you’ve probably seen them on social media: #TakeoutTuesday #TakeoutTakeover #CarryoutWednesday #TheGreatIndiaTakeout. Participating in national hashtag campaigns can amplify the brands and help them reach new audiences.
Over the last three weeks, companies have created hundreds of free social media posts to help restaurants with their messaging and promotions through the Coronavirus.
Meal donations are becoming more popular as people reckon with how to best support local communities and their favorite restaurants. Meal donations are a great way to accomplish both. Some kitchens have switched over completely to a donation model, where every meal purchased goes to medical first responders, out-of-work food service employee’s at-risk communities, and anyone else on the frontlines fighting against COVID-19. Other restaurants have used a “Buy two meals, we donate one” promotion to help give back while maintaining some normal sales.
Regardless of how they choose to promote their brands, it’s important to market it across all the channels. They are catching customers where they’re comfortable on Facebook, Instagram, email, your website, Pinterest, and any other online presence they maintain. It will help the brands big time to promote among the right customers.