Subway is offering a choice of Roasted beaf & cheese, Turkey Breast, Sliced Chicken, Chicken Teriyaki or BBQ Chicken for the 6 inch sub as part of the deal. For the free sub, you don’t have to pick the same one but can choose any other.
Pizza hut has finally decided to follow Subway’s brilliant strategy of offering discount deals during the day’s slowest business hours. While Subway started offering the deal between 2 and 4 on Sundays and then extending it to all days, Pizza Hut has timed it between 4 and 7pm.
When it comes to value for money, Subway is the winner by far. While Subway offered buy one get one free deal for 6 inch subs, pizza hut’s deal just offers free drinks with their regular pizzas- nothing else. But that did not deter people from having a go at the deals.
That’s the thing about deals. Consumers in this part of the world just love going after everything that has the deal tag attached to it.
This time around we checked the Nazimabad outlet adjacent to Dilpasand near A.O Clock Tower. It is by far one of the biggest pizza hut outlets in Karachi.
The drinks have always been a sore point for pizza hut and this time was no different. We chose ‘white’ and it tasted like the liquid version of lemon strepsils. It was neither 7up nor Sprite.
One thing worth appreciating about pizza hut is the flexibility they offer besides the menu. Or maybe it was this particular waiter who offered us this option. In any case, we chose the large pizza deal and were allowed the choice of having half of the pizza as chicken supreme and the other half beef supreme. The stated price of the deal is Rs.645 which includes a large pizza and a pitcher of soft drink, but with GST it comes out to be around Rs.750. The deal is good enough for two people only.
Remember the time when pizza hut used to leave the corners as barren land? Well, it seems with a large dose of consumer bashing that has changed at least at this outlet. Check out the pictures yourself to see the difference. The topping has dramatically improved.
There is however one problem that pizza hut will need to fix. The meat had a smell, both chicken and beef. Now this is the first time that we’ve experienced such a problem at pizza hut and the grapevine has it that this particular outlet is guilty of this offence on more than one occasion.
So what could be the reason for foul-smelling meat? It’s not that the meat was under-cooked. All the other ingredients were baked to perfection. So who is the culprit?
When it comes to chicken especially, there’s only one instance when it smells, and that is when it has been kept for quite some time. It does not matter if it has been frozen properly. Chicken will always smell if it has been stored for long, unless it is marinated excessively with strong condiments.
Beef on the other hand has a distinct smell and taste of its own which gets stronger with the passage of time. So pizza hut will have to be very careful as to when that quality gets too strong for the consumer’s taste. The lesson for pizza hut is to avoid keeping a large inventory of perishable items.
We also tried the potato wedges and potato skins which are not part of the deal. Subway beats Pizza Hut in the case of wedges as well. Even Roasters’ potato wedges offered with their breakfast deals are better than Pizza Hut’s.
The potato skins are an unique item and not something you would find anywhere else. They could have been great had the garlic sauce served with them prepared properly. Both the potato wedges and skins cost Rs.75, and the quantity you can judge for yourself from the snapshots.
Overall, pizza hut’s deal is alright. Just don’t expect any great value addition from their regular menu.
We have always been a fan of Nandos’ marketing endeavors, not just their tongue-in-cheek humorous print ads reflecting the prevailing conditions (headed by the creative department of Adcom), but also their in-house branding efforts. The way they have woven stories seamlessly into their ambiance, something which the other franchises have utterly failed to do in spite of having a long and rich tradition themselves, speaks volumes for the ingenuity of their marketing department.
However, I have never been a fan of their food. Nine times out of ten, I have come out a disappointed customer. I would have thought I was the odd man out until I saw the share of the Pakistani market that Nandos has as found out by Aurora in their December issue – a meager 6%, which just goes on to show I’m not the only one not satisfied with their offering.
A case can be made in their favor that Subway as well has only a 6% share although it has far more outlets than Nandos. To set the record straight, Nandos has just three in the entire metropolis of Karachi. But then, it could have deliberately kept the outlets low because it expect demand for more.
When it comes to aggressive sales promotion and pricing, Subway wins against Nandos hands down. Although Subway doesn’t come up with new innovative dishes likes Nandos does, what it does do is put a clever spin on its lone offering at a price that is unbeatable. Put another way, the amount of stuff you can have at a particular price at Subway wouldn’t fulfill you at all at Nandos.
That brings us to their new marketing toy- the Espetada Rustica. If you strip away the hype, there’s nothing to it- just five pieces of tender grilled chicken served with baked vegetables, a bun and butter sauce. But the way it is presented in that unique vertically inclined skewer and the story to go with it that Christopher Columbus was addicted to this on his New World Adventures. Now the late discoverer of America may never even have heard or seen this dish, let alone be addicted to it, but such is the power of storytelling in branding that this delicacy has become the darling of the consumers. I can’t think of a time before when the consumers rushed to Nandos for some new offering as they have responded this time. A friend of mine celebrated his wedding anniversary at Nandos courtesy the Espetada Rustica.
Of course the print and the radio medium had a big part to play in this state of affairs since it was advertised on both these mediums. While the radio ad was good, especially the heavy accent used to portray possibly a Portuguese chef, the print ad would have made the great David Ogilvy turn in his grave.
Ogilvy was always a great fan of the white background, or at least a light one which would highlight the foreground elements. Nandos always goes against this convention. And it just doesn’t work completely. Just look at the ad, the background is red, the skewer is red and so is the drink! No contrast whatsoever. And if that wasn’t enough, the details of the entrée are written in microscopic font on a green background. Who on earth would be able to read that without a magnifying glass? And this isn’t the first time they have committed this folly. The fact that the cuisine has become well-known with the consumer doesn’t mean the print ad was a success. Maybe all the people driven towards the entrée was the sole result of the radio ad or even the billboard.
Now the crucial part- the taste. In that department, the Estrada Rustica is quite good. It comes in two flavors, the mild and the hot. We checked out the mild one, so cannot comment on the other one. The size of the portion was generous, enough to satiate the appetite of a healthy adult. The accessories could have been much better both in diversity and portion. A few boiled/backed pieces of assorted vegetables just doesn’t cut it. They should have at least thrown in the potato wedges for good measure, even if they are not part of the original 16th century recipe, that is, if there is really an ancient recipe of it. In any way, something extra must have been included, considering the price of the offering.
And now we come to the second crucial part – the pricing. Simply put, it is exorbitant. At Rs. 575 plus tax plus a drink plus the tip, you are looking at an Rs.850 meal, and there’s no appetizer or dessert. Now that’s pretty steep. When Nandos first launched the offer, the drink called Blanko was included in the 575. Not anymore. You have to pay Rs.120 plus tax for that too. And it’s not even in the menu. Another fantastic marketing gimmicky.
Coming to the drink, it is offered in two flavors, either a sprite or a coke. Trust me, take the sprite version, for the other one is simply undrinkable. Not that the sprite one fares much better. We couldn’t discern the taste completely, but it tasted like a cross between a hair spray and a talcum powder. We tried our hardest to identify the brands of the powder and the hair spray, but the citrus taste courtesy slices of apple and orange in this ‘Portuguese’ drink created a hurdle in this endeavor.
We asked the waiter what on earth were the ingredients of the drink, and the poor soul had no idea himself. He said a strange syrup is imported the contents of which are confidential, and this syrup is used to make this drink. Swell.
But you have got to hand it to the Nandos people for sexing up the presentation of the drink as well with that ancient shaped bottle to go with the Columbus tale. And the volume was generous enough, about 300-350 ml.
Another brilliant marketing tactic they have come up is the use of cards to entice the first time customer for a repeat visit. The card is divided into six coupons, each coupon valid for a single visit. For the 2nd visit, you get chicken wings for free if you spend a certain amount, for the 3rd wedges and so on.
On our second visit, as promised we got the chicken wings, and they were simply divine. The thing to praise here is that the Nandos people didn’t try to cheat by offering less just because it was free, something that other franchises are prone to do.
Nandos ought to continue with this innovative style of coming up with strange and supposedly exotic dishes and marketing them aggressively. Yes, the price of Estrada Rustic is a bit too steep, which I reckon includes the cost of the marketing campaign. Otherwise, Nandos could easily have priced this product at Rs. 300-400 considering there’s no unique or expensive ingredient in it. But then, I’m also in favor of charging a brand premium if you can position your brand favorably in the consumer’s mind. And Nandos has succeeded at that in this case.
When it comes to special offers, Subway takes the lead over all the other foreign franchises operating in Pakistan. Maybe this has got something to do with the fact that amongst all the foreign brands in Pakistan, Subway has had the toughest time. 10 years down the line, they have managed to capture a meager 6% of the market share in contrast to KFC lion’s share of 29%, Pizza Hut with 23% and McDonald’s with 18%. Although Nando’s is at 6% as well, but then Nando’s hasn’t had the run that Subway has plus it doesn’t have that many outlets compared to the strong network of Subway.