From food delivery apps like Zomato to neighbourhood WhatsApp groups, digital platforms have transformed the eating habits of many parts of urban India as they meet the needs of time-poor, convenience-seeking consumers.

Zomato was one of the first into this market, back in 2008, since when the food delivery and restaurant discovery service has expanded into 24 countries and introduced a number of innovative programmes designed to drive loyalty for both itself and its partner restaurants.

Zomato Gold, the subscription service launched in late 2017 and now available in several cities outside India, offers members complimentary food and drinks when dining out – a proposition that the brand claims increases discoverability and restaurant footfall.

“According to our findings, 80% of users discover a restaurant for the first time using Zomato Gold, giving them an edge over non-Gold restaurants,” a Zomato spokesperson told the Business Standard. At the end of March 2019 the program boasted 1 million active subscribers globally compared to just 170,000 twelve months earlier.

Zomato Piggybank, a rewards programme for people dining in, followed in mid-2018: customers who place at least five orders per month can earn back 10% on each meal in the form of Z Coins which can be used for future purchases or donated to causes.

At the other end of the scale are neighbourhood WhatsApp groups, where local residents buy and sell food, from snacks to full meals cooked in their own kitchen, to be picked up by the buyer or delivered by the seller.

In more structured versions, an app such as Bengalaru-based FoodyBuddy makes the links and takes a small percentage of any sale but doesn’t deliver, while aggregators like Oota Box and Masala Box will connect home chefs with customers and deliver as well.

“It is the need to eat home-cooked food that has led to this trend of a neighbourhood food network,” explained Rachna Rao, a co-founder of FoodyBuddy.

“The majority of our buyers are working professionals, who don’t have time to cook at home, whether it’s [because of] work pressure or the long commutes and traffic in Bengaluru,” she told Scroll magazine. “ But at the same matters to them what they are putting on the table.”

Sourced from Business Standard, Scroll; additional content by WARC staff