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Strapped for Time, Spoilt with Choice in India

March 2013

By Reshma Bachwani, Bangalore

Urban Indians today find themselves gripped by paradoxical circumstances:  So much to do, but so little time. It’s not surprising, then, that Indians take to Internet for help in finding restaurants, dates and new and interesting activities.

As the frequency of eating out in India increases (the weekly frequency of dining out has more than doubled in the past few years), both fine and fast food restaurants are doing everything possible to keep up their momentum and avoid monotony on the menu.

On one hand, fine dining restaurants are collaborating with websites, like Poshvine and Groupon, to not only offer gourmet meals at discounted prices, but also satisfy a consumer craving to be treated with special service—a free chef’s dish and strategic seat placements, to name two.  

On the other hand, popular fast food chains are extending their menus beyond the expected. Indians now have exposure to international cultures and have built an appetite for experimental cuisines. Reflective of an upgrade in living standards here, people have access to big brands from international markets, as well as international cuisine. At Domino's, one can opt for fancier options, like Pasta Italiano, or leave Italian behind and grab a Mexican wrap or Chinese pizza. McDonalds India introduces new products on their menu three to four times a year. An advert for their ‘spice fest’ range showed gourmet chefs using fresh exotic ingredients, bringing the Indian arm of the chain in line with the worldwide gourmet-fast-food trend.

The need to keep pace with the latest on the social map goes beyond food and has created business opportunities for sites that sift through the clutter and act as self-appointed curators of social life. The people at brown paper bag call themselves the “secret scouters of the cool.” One offering, Mad Bites, does late night food deliveries from 11 p.m. to 7 a.m.; while another, Pain Ordinaire, teaches locals how to bake international breads. 

Floh (stands for Find Life Over Here) targets elite singles and brings them together; whether it is a cheese-tasting session at the new fromagerie or a vintage car event. A recent Floh mixology event was hosted in partnership with Absolut and Ketel One vodka, and is just one example of how even international brands are getting in on the action.

Events that rally elite, educated singles illustrate a change in social ethos. Traditional avenues for meeting new people, socializing via alliances arranged by parents, are becoming passé. Sites like Floh easily open up new opportunities to meet people, but without the taboos associated with online dating. What’s more, as popularity continues to grow we can expect more brands to get involved; quite literally, marketers are putting their money where the consumers’ mouths are.

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