#8 | Akshay - I discover restaurants through Instagram and order their food on Zomato
What's cooking - Qualitative study to understand food in urban households
5,00,000 - That’s the total number of food orders delivered by Swiggy and Zomato on new year’s eve. Following the live tweets of Swiggy and Zomato founders on Twitter during new years eve has kind of become a ritual in the last few years. As expected, Biriyani and Pizza topped the list of items. Zomato witnessed a 45% surge in orders this year compared to 2021! I wouldn't be surprised to see an FPL (Food ordering premiere league ) during new year’s eve in the coming years. It’s fun. It’s celebratory, and now it’s a culture.
About the research: 'What's Cooking?' is a user research series aimed at understanding how urban millennial households consume food. All the names and personally identifiable information are masked to honour the participants' privacy. I publish one story from this series every Thursday.
Akshay lives with his wife in a society in Bangalore. They both work in a hybrid work culture and go to the office 2-3 times a week. Akshay’s wife takes primary care of the kitchen with the help of a cook who comes once every day.
Food preferences of the family
Akshay is a non-vegetarian, and his wife is a vegetarian. Their cook comes in the morning to prepare separate breakfasts for each of them. She prepares their lunch, and the couple has the same food for dinner. Akshay is health conscious, so he ensures they have fruits for snacks when they reach home after the office.
Their cook takes Sundays off, so the couple usually orders food from outside or goes out to dine on weekends.
Here’s a snapshot of their meal preferences during the week:
We add items to the Big Basket cart and order directly from them.
Akshay & his wife keep adding the required groceries and missing items to the Big Basket cart throughout the week.
The running list of groceries is maintained in his wife’s cart in Big Basket. If Akshay needs something, it is communicated to his wife, who adds it to the cart.
They order all sorts of groceries, such as fruits, vegetables, oil, rice etc., from the Big Basket app once every two weeks.
Akshay also purchases from the supermarket in his society once a week. These are primarily last-minute purchases for items such as tomatoes, potatoes and onions.
When it’s an urgent need, and they don’t have the mood to buy from the supermarket, they order from Instamart. This happens once every two weeks, but the order value is significantly less than Big Basket.
Rating of the restaurant » Delivery time
Akshay orders food 2-3 times a week from Zomato. He prefers Zomato because he feels they deliver the food faster and usually have more coupons.
Akshay and his wife order food based on their mood for the day and occasionally order desserts during the week. They select the restaurant based on their ratings.
Always rating comes first and then the delivery time. Because once an order took me about two hours to get delivered. So delivery time is not predictable in most cases. Reviews also help me in selecting restaurants. If there are bad reviews; I don't order from the restaurant.
Akshay usually has a dish or cuisine in his mind based on his mood before he opens the app. So he filters or searches for a particular dish or cuisine to explore and select the restaurant.
Apart from these, Akshay has his set of favourite restaurants to order from, such as biriyani from Meghana Foods or Nandini in Bangalore. Similarly, he has preferred restaurants for burgers, rolls and pizzas. These are regular repeat orders.
Google search is very random, but Instagram is personalised.
Akshay explores new restaurants by searching on Instagram. He digs and finds new influencers and follows them to discover newly opened places.
I search for food, let's say Burger. Burger in Bangalore. So you can find many bloggers posting this content. And on Instagram, if you are searching for something, then all the targeted ads are coming in a feed based on the search. You will get to know more food influencers through this. And if you like them, you can follow them.
Akshay discovers restaurants through Instagram and orders food through Zomato. He is also particular about which dishes to order on apps and which to consume at the restaurant. For example, he prefers eating burgers through dine-in as they get soggy if delivered at home.
I don't use Swiggy and Zomato to discover a new restaurant. I use Instagram. In Instagram there are multiple food bloggers who share across reviews different restaurants. So, I usually follow them and based on that, I decide to go in this restaurant. I cross check those restaurant on Swiggy or Zomato to check the rating. If the ratings are 4.2 or 4.5 or 4.7, then I'm interested to go there.
On the other hand, Akshay thinks Google search results are not personalised. He also feels that he never gets to know the whole picture by searching on Google.
Let's say on Instagram, there are food influencers who share the overall experience of the restaurant. They are sharing their favourite dish you can try etc. And you could also see the image. So they give a round perspective, but in Google search, you are not able to see it in that manner. So that's why I'm not able to judge based on just a Google search.
Akshay also doesn’t love influencers posting edited images of the food because it’s deceiving most time. So he trusts pictures that are not edited and feel authentic.
The ambience & food presentation makes the dining experience worth it!
Akshay and his wife dine out at least once a week during the weekends. It’s either lunch or dinner, and they choose a restaurant near their place as they don’t want to get stuck in the traffic.
As mentioned above, most of their choices come from Instagram. Akshay selects a restaurant based on the ambience, the food menu and the price.
A month back I went to a restaurant in JP Nagar. It's a beautiful restaurant over there and they have a kind of ambience that we wanted to go and experience. The price is too high over there, so I don't want to visit with my group, it was just me and my wife. If I'm going with my group, then it will cost me around 15,000 to 20,000 Rupees over there. But their food presentation & taste was excellent. It was a great experience overall.
Akshay’s budget is usually Rs. 1000/person when dining out, and it’s Rs. 250/dish while ordering food online.
If the burger cost me or pizza cost me around 600 to 700 Rupees, I don't want it to purchase that. If the burger costs me around just 200 or 250 Rupees, then I'm okay with that. So I usually have that in my mind that I don't want it to go beyond my budget basically.
Effects of COVID and health preferences
A couple of years back, Akshay got typhoid due to his unhealthy diet preferences, and the doctor suggested Akshay follow a healthy diet.
Akshay started by following a few Aryuvedic suggestions, like honey mixed in warm water and five almonds in the morning.
Akshay also follows many fitness influencers, which has helped him learn what to eat and when to eat it.
Now, Akshay is also more conscious of reducing his weight because he gained 10 kgs during the COVID lockdown.
During COVID time, I've increased my weight up to more than 10 kg. Also, my digestive system was not working properly and I was under pressure not being able to meet my family during those tough times. This led to an increase in my weight. From that point in time, I decided to reduce my weight and come into a good habit.
Role of social media in altering our food preferences:
Social media plays a significant role in influencing modern food preferences. They have led to an explosion of foodie culture. I found Akshay’s mental model of utilising Instagram to discover restaurants and Swiggy / Zomato to reconfirm his choice through rating intriguing. Akshay’s behaviour is a clear example of users forming trust through various cues from different platforms.
Overall, social media has allowed for a much more personalised food experience and has increased exposure to new cuisines.
Follow me on Twitter (@dharmeshba) for updates on Indian consumer behaviour. Thanks to Rajesh Raghavan for co-writing this piece.