Discovering home food in a distant land is a tough task. It has been often observed that individuals are deprived of their comfort food or sometimes termed soul food, in a foreign land. The desire for much-treasured home food in its authentic form increases with time when stay becomes longer, and foreigners begin to lose interest in the meals whenever they cannot get their preferred traditional and authentic food. It also gives rise to displeasure towards the distant land and reduces their capacity to enjoy the stay. Alternatively, various people happen to be outstanding cooks out of passion. These people might range from students or homemakers or self-employed businessmen or women or business executives. Situations might have been such that due to certain circumstances, they were unable to flourish to the next level, thereby catering to a bigger group of individuals. India is home to many foreigners who stay as permanent residents. Some seem to be settled in the country for generations, while the others might have relocated either due to studies or profession. Amongst these foreigners staying in India, one section of the people are unable to cook and remains hugely deprived of authentic food, while there exists a section who are unable to find a suitable target market for sharing their skills. ‘Eat-Authentic-Like-Home’ is a concept to be materialised at this stage to unite both sections of the people, the non-cooks and the passionate cooks, to satiate both their needs. It would operate online and would be a contactless service that will, given the Covid-19 protocols
Presently the market seems to be perceiving growth because of the rising access to the facilities of higher speed internet and smartphones. The rising working population and the rising income levels propel the market for online food delivery across India (1). Though the players remain concentrated across the country's urban areas, with Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore representing the biggest market, vendors also target smaller cities since they have a stronger potential for growth (2). Besides the increasing trend of on-the-go items for food and quicker home delivery models offering convenient, ready to eat, and cheaper, there has been a rising demand for the online delivery of food across the country. Moreover, the contactless delivery service was also brought to prominence by McDonald’s Corporation, Zomato, and Domino’s Pizza during the pandemic. These services ensured that food reached a customer without being touched and maintained the social distancing measure. According to estimates put across by the IMARC Group, the food delivery market of India is anticipated to experience a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of around 28.9 percent from the year 2022 to 2027 (3)
The vision lies in recognising the authentic dishes of each country worldwide and registration of a potential chef for producing accurate traditional food with no modernisation or westernisation. Therefore, the vision of this contactless international foodservice portal lies in providing foreigners access to home-prepared conventional international meals through a contactless and online service during their time of stay across India. Despite an international menu on demand, Eat-Authentic-Like-Home looks forward to delivering food in less than 30 minutes.
Unique Selling Proposition
Eat-Authentic-Like-Home shall put across a platform for connecting with India's foreigners via authentic international home-cooked food delivery service. As per records of 2015, close to 5.2 million immigrants stay in India (4). Irrespective of having numerous restaurants of varied cuisine across the city, foreigners cannot get the authentic feel and taste of comfort food. This international foodservice shall connect the people of the same countries by delivering home-style food in authentic form. The platform shall display food categories belonging to different countries and a list of their conventional food cooked with authentic ingredients in traditional style. The buyers and the sellers belonging to similar nationalities can be connected via these categories. For instance, the Japanese will be able to have authentic ramen and sushi prepared by the Japanese people staying in India. At the same time, Vietnamese will be able to savor their authentic pho prepared by a Vietnamese staying in India. The service shall be operated by 5 to 10 qualified people. The service shall be available from 11 a.m to 11 p.m. The generated revenue shall be through the delivery charge that would range from Rs 40 to Rs 60 depending on the area of the order and commission received from chefs against placing an advertisement. The orders shall be accepted either through a registered phone number or through the official website or through its app, which can be accessed either by laptop, tablet or smartphone. There shall be no cash-on-delivery service, and payments will be solely accepted online making the service completely contactless.
- Face-to-Face Interview of Individuals: Appointments were fixed with people and venue, and timing for meeting them so that the interview could be carried out smoothly. The benefit of the face-to-face interview process is that it aids in accurate screening (5). The interviewed individual cannot put across any false claims during the screening questions. The interviewee thus pays complete attention, thereby ruling out any distractions.
- Telephonic Interview: During the telephonic interview, appointments were taken from the people along with a schedule as to when they could be called back for feedback. The biggest advantage of the telephonic interview is its access across a wider geographic area, along with cost savings (6). It also allowed flexibility of the questions.
The biggest disadvantage faced during the interview process had been to set up the place and the time for the meeting as the interviewees since they have been busy professionals (7). Besides, during the interview, some of the interviewees providing the required feedback could not comprehend the question appropriately and inadvertently provided wrong feedback. In addition to this, the time for interviews had been a bit time-consuming since the pressure of the other courses needed to be managed along with conducting interviews for gathering feedback.
Unique Selling Proposition: As far as the unique selling proposition is concerned, the Eat-Authentic-Like-Home will offer home-cooked authentic dishes for foreigners in India with a wide menu. The uniqueness will also lie in the fresh ingredients and the hygiene guidelines followed. The customer can avail of the service either online or via the app according to their convenience.
Market Potential: The market potential is determined by identifying the marketing mix, including the product, price, place and promotion. It is mentioned below as follows:
Product: The homemade contactless food service across India will offer an international menu in wide varieties (8). Foreigners shall be able to taste iconic traditional food from their origin country. The food shall be prepared from fresh ingredients under hygienic conditions to be of higher quality and cater to the customer's taste.
Price: Eat-Authentic-Like- Home plans to provide food at a competitive price to effectively serve customers. According to (9), the best home-prepared food at a competitive rate would indicate the addition of value. The customer's price shall include the riders’ charge, carrying the contactless delivery to the doorstep. The rider's charge shall be Rs. 100-150 based on the trip. Prices shall be decided based on 28 per cent of fortnight sales.
Place: It is considered a vital feature of Eat-Authentic-Like-Home. The menu of the available foods will be available online and accessed through the app and the firm's official website. Due to the accessibility and convenience, this feature will attract customers (10). EatAuthenticBackHome will also focus on dropping a message on its online service website that the foreigners shall get food based on their country origin without travelling home.
Promotions: For boosting accessibility, trained bikers shall be a part of the distribution channel (11). A minimum of 6 bikers shall control each zone in India. It shall ensure a competitive edge. In addition to this, the service will also be promoted via various social media platforms such as Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook and LinkedIn.
Opportunity: The financial requirement of the venture is moderate, and so it indicates little risk opportunity. The venture shall be started initially on a very small scale. The application of the lean method could be related to such an opportunity for determining its success (12). Besides, as students, we individually seem to have the required financial investment, energy, entrepreneurial willingness and time for starting a venture that has a lower risk of failure.
Competitive Advantage: The venture has enough potential to grow in varied areas. Customers shall also have the advantage of the convenience of placing orders, and food that is mostly ordered can be studied. The food service shall also involve a delivery charge and a commission from the chefs that would contribute to the rise in the profit margin, thereby making the business profitable. Eat-Authentic-Like-Home can also connect with other contactless food delivery apps to gain a bigger customer base. A person introducing the service to a fellow foreigner friend shall get a free meal against the first order.
We tried to conduct 20 interviews with foreigners and collected positive feedback against the idea of the venture. We also identified the improvements that needed to be incorporated into the marketing mix from the two entrepreneurs interviewed. We can also say that many of the interviewees perceived the idea quite well and confirmed that they yearned for authentic, iconic dishes from their country. We also found that many foreigners preferred using mobile apps for ordering authentic dishes from restaurants. The cost of the dishes was higher compared to the food we offered and lacked the taste, quality and freshness of the iconic dishes. The foreigners interviewed mentioned that they had always searched for the most authentic home-cooked dishes and expressed interest in placing orders through the app, thereby raising the profit margins. The interviews made us realise that we needed to provide an outstanding service for gaining the long term loyalty and the trust of the customers.
The interviewed entrepreneurs also perceived our idea and admitted a need for such a service. They also argued, stating that it would be difficult to continue satiating the market needs with such minimum resources with the increase in the customer base. The venture would thus require higher financial capital and resources for ensuring continued success.
Nevertheless, the feedback received was quite positive, and we shall undertake continued research for adding more improvements and innovation to the marketing mix as well as positioning of the service.
One of the revisions that we require to incorporate is to assure quality customer service and maintain a minimum gap of 2 hours between the order placement and the delivery so that the process is not carried out in a rush and one can gain the customer's trust. Another revision would be in maintaining a minimum price of the home-cooked food offered, which can result in higher demand. Besides, there is also a need for researching a more suitable option for delivery to minimise the cost in terms of fuel efficiency and discovery of varied routes across the city that would make the service easier and more efficient.
On a concluding note, it can be said that beginning a contactless international food delivery service shall work well when carried out in a bigger sized geographical area. The clients shall be provided with quality and fresh home-cooked food at a minimum. The key aspect of the business model lies in the fact that the target market, primarily the international clients, comes with modern gadgets that happen to be a necessity of the modern age. It makes it quite convenient for them in placing an order through the app or the official website. A taste of a home-cooked authentic, iconic meal can be a refreshing touch to the international clients in their busy schedules. The future of the venture lies in the number of loyal customers gained, employee competence and the structure of business followed. The key focus of the venture is to aid foreigners with authentic dishes thereby creating a positive impact on their lives.
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