Merchandising is coming up to be a potential vertical for F&B businesses the world over. Increasing number of players are coming up with strategies to explore this space which in-turn is adding to their main revenue streams along with helping them to connect with the customers in a better way.
Coffee shops indulging into this business have been there in the game for some time now, though, this trend is now catching up big time with restaurants as well. Customised t-shirts, caps, aprons, accessories – restaurants are offering these and much more to their target consumers to widen their popular appeal. There are many names associated with exploring this business idea including players like Hard Rock Café, Shisha Café, High Spirits, Malaka Spice and The Chocolate Room India Pvt Ltd among others.
Merchandise on offer
Mayur Joshi, Operations Manager, The Chocolate Room India Pvt.Ltd. says, “We offer our handmade Belgian chocolates in our customise packing's and our signature crockery i.e. cuddle cup, warming mug, fondue sets and drink me mug.” However, Praful Chandawarkar, Owner of Malaka Spice shares that their offerings include t-shirts which have art-work of various artists who have exhibited at and are associated with Malaka Spice, printed on them.
“We have aprons and bags made of unbleached cotton with appliqué work designed by our team, done for us by a NGO. We also have caps and hats to beat the summer sun. There are gift items like mugs, candles, candle stands, aroma lamps, shell jewellery, key chains etc. We have affordable art which are great works of artists like Van Goghs and local artists printed on small canvas.” Interestingly, Malaka Spice has a separate store which is in the complex itself and is called ‘The Malaka Pirate's Booty’.
Footfalls and revenue
Joshi avers, “This merchandise plays a major part in terms of our sales figures. Given the kind of quality and products we provide, we can say 15-20% business we generate is a contribution of this merchandise. Also, not to forget is that the sales go up during festive time and special occasions.”
However, Chandawarkar has a different view point to share here with regards to increased footfalls. He says, “No, I would not put it that way. Merchandise is a by-product of our main product which is food. It is mainly the love for art that has lead to the conception of our designer/customised products that we sell at the store. All the products that we sell are to promote art.”
At Chocolate Room, the approach includes always doing something innovative for customers so that they always get something new on each visit of the store. “We attract our customers by attractive pickings, stylish display and quality of service,” avers Joshi. It is also to be noted that going to restaurants these days is more or less a lifestyle need. At Malaka Spice, it is understood that designer wear and Art are to a great extent a life style need.
Chandawarkar opines, "Merchandising is used by Malaka Spice for the following reasons: to promote the culture of our brand which is art and food based. It gives our artists a unique opportunity to custom make our products. Secondly, in a lifestyle business like ours, accessories are crucial. Apart from food and alcohol, sale patrons are always looking to contribute by purchasing art and art which works for them individually like caricatures and functional art or garments. This is a new evolving trend and we are very proud to be involved in it since the last 7 years."
At Chocolate Room, they do not indulge into D2D marketing but of course believe in entertaining every customer who visits their store. Chandawarkar says, “We already have a huge clientele, and as always we are providing them with something more that is, great art, designer wear and much more...to make them keep coming back!!! We advertise in-house (walls etc in the restaurant) and our website and also, social networking sites.”
Undoubtedly, restaurants have made most of this marketing strategy during the World Cup fever and now with the on-going IPL Season 4 matches, this marketing strategy is bound to hit bull's eye yet again!