Imagine this – a fridge, full of food, stationed in a residential community or any workplace, with no salespersons, no cash counters, no cameras. Consumers are allowed to pick up food and pay for it when then can – either in full or in part. Sounds like a dream? Not really!
One Bengaluru-based startup has been running such stores, as a part of their marketing activity, since last year. Why? Because the company believes in trusting its trusted consumers. And guess what, they have not been let down.
Started in 2006 as a little establishment in the bustling streets of Bangalore, iD Fresh Foods has come a long way and set several milestones, too. Known for selling authentic, healthy and tasty Indian home-made meals, including Idli/dosa batter, malabar parota, curd, among others, to its time-starved, yet health-conscious consumers in Bangalore, iD Food has today extended to Mumbai, Chennai, Hyderabad, Pune, Mysore and even Dubai.
In an exclusive conversation with Musthafa PC, Chief executive, iD Fresh Foods, Team MarkUp unearths the idea behind ‘The Trush Shop’ and how social media helped them build that trust and credibility with their consumers.
- How did you identify the potential market?
While studying at IIM-B, I started to discuss business plans with my maternal cousins. My cousin Shamsudeen, who ran a kirana store, noticed that dosa batter that was then sold in plastic bags tied with a rubber band in nearby stores was in demand, especially among working women, but was of poor and inconsistent quality. This is when the idea took birth; the plan was to put some structure to the batter industry.
- How did you get your first 1000 customers? Who is your target audience?
The initial set of consumers was through word-of-mouth. Our primary TG is women, both housewifes and working women, who are 26+ and of sec A, B. They’re smart and busy women who are the gatekeeper of their family and hate making compromises when it comes to food. She believes in the goodness of tradition but doesn’t always have time to prepare everything from the scratch for her family.
- What kind of marketing strategies are you employing to build the brand this year?
We use 360-degree branding and marketing approach, which includes TL, BTL, digital, social media, public relation, et al. Additionally, we always try to come up with disruptive marketing activities. Take, for example, our Trust Shop concept, where we installed completely unmonitored refrigerators- full of our popular breakfast options- in some apartments across Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Kerala. A customer could open the door and picks up a sachet, and drops cash into a small box attached to the door. The idea was to not only trust our consumers completely but also give them 24×7 accesses to fresh food. The concept has been well received and most consumers pay for what they pick up. Collections from these Trust Shop are as high as 90% and on some days, it is over 100%.
- What is your brand’s USP and business model?
We produce and deliver an array of ready-to-cook, fresh Indian home food to our customers every single day and take pride in our home-made style of preparation in ultra-hygienic factories where we follow the best in class, good manufacturing processing systems and use state of the art equipment. We strongly believe in the joy that a good home-cooked food brings to families and want the next generation to not miss out this joy of Indian home food due to lack of time that current homemakers face.
The products are manufactured and packed as one would do at home, with zero preservatives and have a shelf-life of a day or two. If the products are not sold within the given time, we buy it back from the stores and they are destroyed/discarded, so that consumers only get products that are fresh and good. The goodness of fresh ‘home-like’ food is the guiding principle at our company.
- Tell us about your milestones.
We are present in 16 cities across India and abroad, have a dedicated team of 1000+ employees, and every step that we have achieved till date is like a new milestone. Today, we manufacture 50,000 kgs of idli/dosa batter per day, besides other products and supplies (50,000 packets per day) to more than 15,000 retail outlets, and we couldn’t be happier.
- How important is social media for your brand?
Social media is an integral part of the marketing mix. Social and digital medium helps in creating brand awareness, relationship building or even driving new sales. Since social channels gives you direct access to your consumers need, choice and sometimes complaints, they make an important channel to build the trust between company and its customers. Social media lets us become a trusted source of information and creates awareness and brand credibility. We being a city-specific brand, social media provides an option to reach out to our TG and talk to them on a one-on-one basis, which is also cost effective.