Fast Food Fables

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Case Details:

Case Code : MKTG004
Case Length : 6 Pages
Period : 1997-2001
Pub Date : 2001
Teaching Note : Available
Organization : McDonalds, Dominos, KFC
Industry : Food, Beverages & Tobacco
Countries : India

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This case study was compiled from published sources, and is intended to be used as a basis for class discussion. It is not intended to illustrate either effective or ineffective handling of a management situation. Nor is it a primary information source.

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"Even though the Indian outfit stuck to its core taste that grew on consumers from 'bland' to 'unique' in three years, with no change factored in by the fast-food chain, McDonald's menu still was about 75% different from its global menu."

- Vikram Bakshi, MD, McDonald's Delhi.

"The Indian palate is very definitive -people are extremely finicky and choosy, not too willing to experiment. Food tastes vary from region to region. To capture the market, we had to localize flavors."

- Gautam Advani, Chief of Marketing, Domino's Pizza

"People didn't know about the menu and as a result, KFC was regarded as a restaurant serving chicken. All this was simply because of the word chicken."

- Pankaj Batra, Kentucky Fried Chicken's Marketing Manager


In the mid 1990s, a spate of global fast food chains entered India hoping to capture a part of Indian fast food segment. But they found it difficult to establish themselves. Gaining acceptance locally and blending into the Indian culture proved difficult. In 1997, McDonald's was facing several problems. Most Indians thought McDonald's was expensive, and many didn't like the fact that it served only non-vegetarian meals. The 'bland' taste of its preparations didn't go down well with the Indian palate. In 1998, the company faced intense competition from domestic food chains. Globally, McDonald's success had been built on its commitment to the QSCV (quality, service, cleanliness and value) principle.

Marketing Management Case Studies | Case Study in Management, Operations, Strategies, Marketing Management, Case Studies

However, Indian customers viewed the product sold by McDonalds not as burgers per se but as fast service in a clean setting. This notion of value was something that could not remain unique. Other fast food chains began to adopt the same 'fast and clean service' formula, and soon it wasn't a distinguishing feature of McDonald's anymore.

Joining The Fray

While McDonald's was establishing itself Domino's faced tough competition when it entered India, with homegrown players like Niruala's and Pizza Corner and MNCs like Pizza Hut and Wimpy's already having established themselves in the market.

The home delivery concept that the company introduced1 had not yet caught on. Besides, Domino's was in a dilemma about how it should position pizza -as a meal or a snack? How far should they go in indianising the pizza so that it had mass appeal, and yet did not lose its identity?...

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1] Domino's offered its customers free home delivery with a promise to deliver pizza within 30 minutes.


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