One of the largest Quick Service Restaurant (QSR) chains in the world, McDonalds announced that it would serve Masala Dosa burgers for breakfast in India. The report took everyone by surprise. While BBC reported how amused social media was with the news, Huffington post called it apocalypse!
From what I could gather reading the news articles, the offering will be a Brioche, usual patty replaced by Aalo Subji of Masala Dosa and have the podi chutney over it. This sounds strikingly similar to how the chain replicated Mumbai’s favourite street food – Wada Pav to make Mc Aalo Tikki, which continues to be the entry level burger offering for the chain.
I continue to wonder who is behind such ideas and why do they find support internally. I distinctly remember that the first outlet in Pune was met with long queues and people stood around for 2-3 hours. McDonalds had a separate counter for its famous Softy (Choco Dip was not available then) and was priced at Rs.7. People flocked the outlets to taste foreign food!
This move from McDonalds is apparently to increase its sale in the early morning hours. The chain started dishing out breakfast from 2010 and has eggs, muffins and sausage on offer. While McDonalds does offer different breakfast options globally, localization to this level seems to be a first.
As I see it, localizations have not helped any of the foreign chains. Pizza hut, once a very popular and booming chain started dishing out Paneer Tikka Pizzas as it hit a plateau with sales. Blame it on this or the entry of Dominoes around the same time, the chain has been struggling in the last few years with its business. KFC – entered the country with a lot of localised menu and it is not a well to see the least. Dominoes – which had significant share in the home delivery segment is seeing head winds to its business and growth, thanks to multiple delivery platforms like Swiggy entering the home delivery market offering wider choice to the customer. Dominoes also started with the game of localization and have seen sluggish or negative growth with drop in Same Store Sales – a key parameter in this industry.
From Paneer pizza, chicken tikka Pizza and now masala dosa burger, I have always felt that one would rather eat a Masala Dosa than a burger which tastes like Masala Dosa and ditto for Paneer Butter Masala – for it will taste better with Roti than on a Pizza base which has just come out of the conveyer belt style oven where it was cooked at 250 degree celcius with cheese, olives and other such toppings.
More often than not, QSRs have blamed Indians shifting to healthy eating habits for lower sales or flat growth rates and no one has ever pointed the blame towards the menu. Without credible data on the order history, it is very difficult to pinpoint on what exactly led to the downfall but it cannot be a mere co-incidence that from Pizza Hut to Dominoes and KFC to McDonalds, everyone started with localization when the sales curve started dwindling and as the localised menu took precedence the curve not only flattened out but also dipped.
It is unclear as to what would be the pricing of the product and if the price point will be attractive for the Indian customer and if extra podi chutney will be charged or offered free of cost. For me, I would look for a filter coffee with my Masala Dosa, even if it is a burger and McDonalds has not yet announced the launch of McFilterCafe!