Late on Monday night, Shirin Shaikh, a resident of NIBM Road, got a SMS from her friend: “1972 prices at Copper Chimney, let’s plan lunch tomorrow.” When Shaikh reached the restaurant the next afternoon, she found that she was one of the nearly 45 people who were waiting to get in. “… we had reached just a couple of minutes after the restaurant opened,” she said.
That’s how the restaurant chain from Mumbai — which opened its newest outlet at Phoenix Market City in Pune — decided to market its launch: by offering food at prices which were relevant over four decades ago. One plate of Makai Malai Seekh, usually priced at Rs 295, was served for what it cost back in 1972 — Rs 45.
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“Since we are celebrating our 44th anniversary and it happens to coincide with the opening of our new outlet at Viman Nagar, we thought we would offer 1972 rates for two days, on December 5 and 6. This would help…. in raising awareness about the newly-opened restaurant,” said Ashish Verma, marketing manager of Copper Chimney, who added that the strategy paid off.
Increasingly, restaurants are turning to innovative marketing strategies to encourage word-of-mouth publicity. From a menu with 1972 prices to ‘kadki’ weeks, restaurants in Pune have been experimenting with prices and even food challenges as part of their marketing strategies.
At ‘The Paratha Place’, which has two outlets in the city at Viman Nagar and Lohegaon, a ‘kadki’ week is quite popular.
“Most of our customers are working professionals and students. We see that by the end of the month, they usually run out of money. So we came up with this offer… from the 24th to the end of the month, we give 10 to 20 per cent off on any food item. We even have a birthday offer, food for free for the birthday boy or girl, they just need to show a valid I-card,” explained owner Rahul Janjira.
So have these innovative pricing offers worked?
“Yes, tremendously. We never felt the need to advertise. We have had customers who have taken up our offers as well,” added Janjira.
Another marketing idea that is becoming increasingly popular is a food challenge. There are the popular ones such as the Burgar Barn’s Cafe challenge, which invites a patron to finish off the WTF! burger, a mega portion, in just 15 minutes. The person who manages to finish the burger in the stipulated time doesn’t have to pay for it.
And then there are others such as Aundh’s ‘Aaoji Khhaoji’, which offers couples a shot at earning Rs 11,000 if they are able to polish off a ‘kumbhkaran’ thali together. “So far, no one has been able to complete the challenge, which is only valid if a couple takes it up together.
The amount of food in that thali is huge — at least five laccha parathas, eight types of gravies, four tawa rotis, three types of dry sabjis, three kinds of sweets and much more. It is actually meant for five adults. Though no one has been able to meet the challenge so far, many have attempted to do so, and it is fun. It has also received quite a bit of word-of-mouth publicity,” said owner Rajveer Singhania.