22 03 2021
Years from now, when we remember 2020 and those days, we will undoubtedly talk about how challenging these days were, and we will especially remember the concept of "transformation." Being able to make agile decisions, adapting to the current conditions, and meeting expectations were “vital" for almost everyone. Sinan Ünal, TAB Gıda CMO, summarizes this period as follows: “Just in 1 year, we made the innovations that we would normally do in 3 years. Now, how can we achieve more in a 6-months period?” We had an eye-opening interview with Sinan Ünal about new consumer profiles, TAB Gıda’s marketing strategies, Tıkla Gelsin application, 2021 goals, and many more.
Students brought the “order out” culture to their families.
Life is not the same anymore due to the epidemic. Naturally, consumer behavior is also changing. Above all, social distance entered everyone's daily life. That's why people avoid close contact while shopping and prefer businesses that offer practical and innovative solutions for maintaining social distance. This trend is even more vital in sectors like ours, where young consumers are particularly interested. How and where do we see this? We see it in online orders and take-aways.
Online ordering and takeaway services existed before, but now, they have become more common as circumstances pressure. People started to stay home more. Students returned to their families. Now, when a student wants to order out, the whole family members are included. Everyone in the house is now aware of this convenience.
How flawless is the experience you offer?
We experienced a significant increase in online orders, mobile payments, and package services. Our menus started to vary. We also prepared menus for a family of three or four and someone living alone. According to the demands, we also renewed our menus for young people who have returned to their family home and spend their day playing games. During this period, there was a significant increase in the interest shown to our brands Usta Dönerci and Usta Pideci. Demand for our local flavors has also increased. Considering this demand, we started to add different local tastes such as lahmacun and kebab wrap to the menus.
We can describe the new consumer profile as a group that prefers package service, uses online and mobile order channels. Mostly they choose to pay online/contactless and demand a flawless service. These demands were not as prominent as before. We now see that this profile has a larger audience. In other words, those who do not use credit cards now use credit cards. Former credit card users now make contactless payments via their smartphones. Those who used to order by phone now order online. Those who used to say, "I don't want home delivery service; I better go to the restaurant" now prefer take-out service.
We work as a strategy department, instead of a marketing department.
During this period, we did not slur over anything. We carefully evaluated all kinds of requests from our customers. We responded to these demands by evaluating them correctly and developing appropriate solutions. We work more like a strategy department than a marketing department.
Data-driven working and being on the field have become a way of doing business for us. I can say that we have seen the benefits of this, too. Thanks to our new way of doing business, we decided to strengthen the takeaway service very early. Again, we made our preparations by foreseeing this second restriction period at an early stage. We have restricted some of our restaurants with double counters to a single counter and reserved the left one for takeaway service only. We correctly analyzed the challenges experienced at the airports in the first period of restrictions in the early period. In this context, we started to focus on highways. We experienced significant sales increases here. We already made big investments in digital channels. During this period, we used all channels much more actively. This brought us more consumer interaction.
In addition to social media, we continuously communicate with consumers through online channels such as our online food ordering application Tıkla Gelsin® and YemekSepeti. These channels offer valuable opportunities to understand what the consumer wants. Our primary strategy has been to deliver high-quality and delicious food to consumers safely, at affordable prices, and use innovative sales channels. We will continue to do so in the upcoming period as well.
We fit 3 years in 1 year
We were a little more prepared for the pandemic period due to our operation in China. We have been one of the earliest adopters of the period as we quickly transferred our experiences we gained there. Frankly, I take this transformation positively. The pandemic has accelerated many things we want to do. For example, we were considering some critical investments in digital channels in February last year. Just in 1 year, we made the innovations that we would normally do in 3 years. Now we are thinking about how we can do more just in 6 months.
In terms of hygiene and quality standards, this transformation is an opportunity for the sector. As TAB Gıda, we are the pioneer of our sector in food safety. With the “Know What You Eat” digital platform, we have opened the kitchens of our restaurants online to our guests. Recently, we received a "Safe Tourism Certificate" after the inspection of our more than 1,200 restaurants one by one.
I believe that the increased sensitivity to hygiene during this period will be an important accelerator for transforming the sector. Many restaurants work on this. We want everyone to survive. Thus, the quality and competition would rise. Therefore, as the number of those who adapt to this transformation increases, the quality bar will rise in the sector.
The number of users of Tıkla Gelsin is growing rapidly
At TAB Gıda, we make significant investments in digital innovations. The budget we allocated to digital has multiplied several times of last year's figures. There are significant increases in our online turnover. Readers will see the picture much better if I say that more than three-quarters of our takeaway turnover comes from online transactions.
Despite the pandemic, our new users' rate did not decrease; on the contrary, it increased significantly. In this period, we completely renewed our Tıkla Gelsin® mobile application from its logo to its interface, and our development efforts continue. We offered our customers the option of "Delivered to your place/Sana Gelsin" and "Come and Get/Gel Al." With the "Delivered to your place/Sana Gelsin" option, the order and delivery process are completed on the application. With the "Come and Get/Gel Al" option, users can create their orders via the application, then go to the restaurant and receive their orders. Thus, no time is wasted, and all transactions are performed easily with the renewed application.
As the duration of stay at home increased, so did the interest in large-size menus
The most important thing for us is to leave behind the pandemic process safely in a social manner. That's why we shape our products, services, and innovations with this understanding. We are working to make all our restaurants contactless. In the simplest term, we have entirely separated the ordering sections at the checkout and preparing the package. Thus, we strictly cut the contact between the environment in which we touch money and the environment in which the packages are prepared. We will continue to use online channels most efficiently. I have stated that we prepare our products entirely following the new consumer profile.
In particular, we will continue to diversify our menus, keep our prices competitive and accessible. As the duration of stay at home increased, so did the interest in large-size menus. However, as I mentioned before, the demand for local products is also growing. We will bring innovations in this area with Usta Dönerci and Usta Pideci. As you know, Burger King renewed its entire visual identity after 20 years. A relaunch process is awaiting us in this regard, spanning the next few years. I also believe in Popeyes and Arby's. Especially in our Turkey operations, these two brands have high potential.
Digital transformation is going to leave its mark on the year 2021, too. We will see this transformation in all aspects of life. In 2020, the service sector, in general, was quite battered, and we cannot say that 2021 has started as an easy year. Despite all the challenges brought by the pandemic, our principal goal again will be offering high-quality and delicious products at affordable prices. In the upcoming period, we will realize significant innovations and strive to provide a superior customer experience.