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Adapting to New Flavors: Pret A Manger's Marketing Strategy for Capturing Growing Indian Food Market

Executive Summary

I have devised an international marketing plan for Pret A Manger (Pret). This plan will contribute toward Pret doubling the size of its business by 2025. After recovering from a downfall in sales due to covid-19 and getting investments from Jab and Sinclair Beecham, now is the appropriate time for Pret to expand its operations internationally again. The report recommends Pret establish new operations in India. The number of Indians preferring on-the-go fast food, forecasts of organised restaurant and foodservice industry, size of India’s population, and the systematic and quick process of starting a food business make India an ideal country for Pret’s expansion.

Firstly, the suggested mode of entry is franchising and licensing because Pret has expertise in expanding through this mode. Secondly, I suggest purchasing assets of coffee stores closing down in multiple cities to acquire outlet space at popular locations ideal for Pret. Considering the low-income levels of Indian consumers compared to Europeans or Americans, Pret needs to open outlets in cities with high per capita income, such as Delhi, Goa, Chandigarh, Haryana, etc., to improve the likelihood of earning a higher level of ROI. The report discusses cultural differences between the UK and India, which signifies areas Pret will need to adapt to the Indian market. Pret will face fierce competition in India because local and global sandwich and coffee brands sell products at a lower cost than in Western countries. Maintaining profit margins and food & service quality at low product prices will be challenging for Pret. However, Pret’s key characteristics of serving fresh food daily, coffee subscription, and sustainable packaging will give it a competitive edge.

The marketing objectives are categorised into sales-based and brand-based goals - helping Pret increase its brand awareness on social media platforms, online orders, and in-store customers. The detailed marketing strategy includes the promotion channel used, the content idea to be implemented, and the reasoning behind selecting promotion channels. Toward the end, I prepared mock-up advertisements for media agencies’ reference. Lastly, the report has final recommendations for Pret to consider while expanding its operations in India.

Table of Contents

  1. Details of the selected company

  2. The rationale behind the chosen country

  3. Mode of entry

  4. Competitive environment

  5. Target market

  6. Marketing objectives

  7. Marketing strategy

  8. Final Recommendations

1. Details of the chosen company

Company Name - Pret a Manger (Pret)

Mission statement - Pret aims to sell its customers freshly cooked food & organic coffee and provide unsold food to charity.

Profile - Based out of the UK, Pret a Manger opened its first store in 1986 (, 2022). As of 2017, over 500 Pret stores were operational worldwide. By 2020, Pret a Manger was present in countries including the US, UK, China, Hong Kong, and France (MarketLine Company Profile, n.d.). The food and coffee served at Pret are prepared from natural & organic ingredients, and the food is cooked in the kitchen of almost all outlets daily. Founded in 1995, the Pret foundation fights poverty and hunger and helps homeless people by donating every day’s unsold food to charity and people in need. Pret value sustainability by keeping its packaging paperboard-based instead of plastic (, 2022). As per MarketLine Company Profile, Pret a Manger has a turnover of USD 999.4 million and employs 11,700 people.

Reason for International Expansion -

Pret a Manger does 67% of its trade in London (Franchise Guide HQ, n.d.). But due to the Covid-19 pandemic and its adverse impact on the UK's economy, Pret suffered heavy losses. The income statement (figure 1) of Pret a Manger (Europe) reveals insights into this (S&P Capital IQ Platform, 2022).

(Figure 1)

From 2010 to 2019, Pret grew its annual revenue significantly from £281 million to £710 million. The cost of goods sold over this period increased four times, while the net income increased from £30.6 million to £78.9 million in 2016. During this time, Pret also expanded its operations in European countries such as France, Germany, Switzerland, and Denmark (, 2022). This shows that the internationalisation of Pret (Statista, 2018) contributed positively to its financial success in the past decade until the Covid-19 pandemic led the company to bear heavy losses in 2020 (The Guardian, 2022).

In 2021, Pret announced that its regional shops are at their most robust performance levels and sales in London recovered above 72% of pre-pandemic weekly sales (Pret, 2021). Considering that now is the right time to expand the global operations and take inspiration from the previous internationalisation strategy to grow the business, that worked well for Pret.

Additionally, Jab and Sinclair Beecham invested £100 million to accelerate the expansion plans of Pret (2021). Pret announced its plans to double the size of its business in the next five years (Pret, 2021). The company has recently expanded operations in Canada and Kuwait (Pret, 2021), showing its zest to expand internationally.

2. The rationale behind the chosen country

India is the proposed country for Pret’s international expansion. Currently, Pret has its presence in Europe, the UK, the US, the Middle East, and China. Considering India is the second-largest population worldwide, and the consumer spending on food & non-alcoholic beverages in India is the third highest in Asia, at $690 billion USD (Statista, 2021), it is a high potential market after China (where Pret is currently operational). The organised cafe chains in India increased from 3,500 in 2017 to 6,200 in 2020 (Statista, 2017).

The data suggests that international cafes brands have achieved success in India. For example, one of the world’s most famous cafes, Starbucks, saw exponential growth in the Indian market. As shown in Figure 3, The number of Starbucks stores in India increased from just 12 in 2013 to 221 in 2021(Statista, 2021). Starbucks’ success in India showcases growth opportunities for Pret in the Indian market.

(Figure 3) (Statista, 2021)

By 2025, the market value of organised restaurants and the food service industry will be USD 43 billion, almost doubling current figures (Statista, 2021); this includes quick-service restaurants - indicating exponential growth in the number of Indians who prefer on-the-go food. The organised restaurants and food service restaurants consist of 19% quick-service restaurants (the category in which Pret a Mager would fall). These numbers show that the market size of Indian quick-service restaurants will be approximately USD 8.17 billion by 2025 - the potential market value of Pret to capture in India. If Pret captures 13% of Indian quick-service restaurants by 2025, the company's earnings could be over USD 1 billion in India.

Business environment

India offers a business-friendly environment for companies to operate. Under the “Make in India” initiative, the government allows 100% foreign direct investment in the food and processing industry, helping Pret easily set up operations in India. Pret can purchase affordable spices, food grains, fruits, and vegetables as India is among the largest producers of these items (Make In India, 2022). To begin operations, Pret will be required to gain a central FSSAI license to meet food safety regulations, a health trade license, store registration, GST registration, and Fire Department NOC (FSSAI, 2022). The UK and India are on their way to finalising a Free-Trade-Agreement by the end of 2023, which would likely reduce tariffs in the food and drink sector, positively affecting Pret’s investment ROI in India (Chaudhury, 2022).

Economic environment

Regarding growth rate, India is among one of the fastest-growing developing economies. Economists predicted India will be the world’s 3rd largest economy and 3rd largest consumer market by 2030 (Chaudhury, 2022). The expected GDP growth rate in 2022/2023 is 8% to 8.5% (Reuters, 2022). These thriving rates indicate healthy consumption levels among the population, and future economic predictions make India a substantial market for Pret.

However, it is critical to identify the gap between urban and rural India. Per capita income influences the purchasing power of a population. In India, urban India's per capita is double that of rural India (Financial Express, 2019). Also, 73% of coffee in India is consumed in urban India (Arun, 2020). Considering both points, it is recommended to launch Pret outlets in high per capita urban Indian states such as Delhi, Goa, Chandigarh, Haryana etc. (Statista, 2020).

3. Mode of Entry

Below are the two modes of entry recommended for launching Pret a Manger in India:

  1. Licensing & franchising (Mariadoss, 2019) - Previously, Pret successfully expanded its operations in other countries by licensing & franchising and it is continuing to do so. Recently, Pret partnered with Dallas Holdings and K&Z Group to open new Pret stores in the UK (Pret, 2021); one day before this, Pret announced franchising with One PM Franchising in the Middle-East and before that with A&W Food Services in Canada (Pret, 2021). Considering Pret’s expertise in expansion through franchising and having a franchising application system (, 2022), the same procedure can be used to launch outlets in India. Franchising would also lead to a quick expansion of Pret. That is because then the brand would not need to acquire and manage assets directly. The primary source of revenue through franchising will be licensing and royalty fees. Having no direct control over the quality of products and services in India will require conducting rigorous interviews and keeping the selection criteria high to ensure quality output from the franchisees.

  2. Asset purchase - It is suggested to acquire the assets of Cafe Coffee Day (CCD) assets in India. CCD is the most popular cafe in India for fast food and coffee consumption. It had over 1500 stores in India in 2016, compared with another brand’s second-highest number of stores at 409 (Statista, 2018). However, CCD is downsizing its number of outlets rapidly post-covid shock. It reduced its stores from 1,753 in 2019 to 572 in 2021. Pret can take advantage of CCD’s downsizing by acquiring closed or soon-to-be-closed stores situated at key locations such as airports, train stations, etc. As compared below, the size and interior of CCD outlets are similar to what Pret outlets have. So, repurposing CCD outlets for the operations of Pret in India will also be easier:

a. CCD outlet in India

b. Pret a Manger Outlet

4. Competitive environment

Porter’s five forces model (Porter, 2008) gives Pret’s competitive environment a holistic understanding.

(Figure 5) (Porter, 2008)

  1. Rivalry among existing firms - Brands like CCD, Subway, and Starbucks are existing rivals. CCD has 500+ outlets (Statista, 2018), Starbucks 250+ (Statista, 2018), and Subway 600+ (Statista, 2018) indicates intense competition in the market. The rising number of Starbucks & Subway outlets directly threatens Pret (Statista, 2018).

  2. The threat of new entry - The Government of India supports the “Make in India” initiative to support new businesses (Make In India, 2022). However, the high investment involved in opening nationwide outlets and the existence of internationally famous cafes and food outlets minimises the threat of new entries.

  3. The threat of substitute products - Products offered by Pret have substitutes at coffee outlets like CCD and Starbucks and sandwich shops such as Subway, which weakens Pret’s power to increase food prices.

  4. Bargaining power of buyers - The purchasing power of consumers in India is comparatively lower than in developed countries due to differences in per-capita income (World Bank, 2020). India ranks in the Big Mac Index in the 51st spot (Statista, 2022). This suggests revising prices following people’s affordability.

  5. Bargaining power of suppliers - India is the 2nd largest producer of wheat (Make In India, 2022) and the 7th largest producer of coffee (Statista, 2021) - leading to surplus supply and lower cost of raw materials, reducing the bargaining power of suppliers.

Pret has offerings that are unique to itself and are missing in others. Where CCD and Starbucks are known for their beverages, Subway is famous for its sandwiches. None of them specialises in offering both food and drinks, making Pret an affordable and one-stop service. The fact that Pret produces fresh products every day, delivers a clean and comfortable space to sit and spend time working or chatting, and provides a subscription service to get five coffees and other drinks at no additional cost every day will help Pret position itself above other competitors in the market.

5. Target Market

The recommended target market for Pret is the Indian working class from the age of 21 years to 40 years in urban cities such as Delhi, Goa, Chandigarh, and Haryana. Considering India’s drastically low per-capita-income starting new outlets in high per-capita-income cities will be essential for Pret’s success. The targeted age group represents the working-class population, which consists of people who miss out on eating breakfast due to lack of time (Iyer and Kumar, 2014) - Pret can emerge as a go-to place for these people to have food and save time. Additionally, as the standard of living and remote-work culture is rising in urban India, Pret can serve food and drinks to the Indian students and working-class that spend more time at cafes to access comfortable seating space, free wifi & electricity, and clean toilets for remote work (NK Realtors, 2018). Another reason to open Pret outlets in urban cities is that the targeted population enjoys convenience food, and there is a rise in the frequency of people eating outside (Posist, n.d.).

(Figure 4)

Comparing the differences between India & Pret’s home market in the UK (figure 4), it can be derived that Pret will need to keep lower product prices due to low per-capita income. Secondly, most coffee and sandwich shops in India are open till midnight, meaning Pret will be required to modify the menu to include food items eaten late at night. Lastly, India constitutes a large vegetarian population, so it is highly recommended to launch a new menu by adding more vegetarian meal options. This strategy has worked well for many Western food brands entering the Indian market. For example, McDonald’s’ menu consists of 75% of items unique to the Indian market, and one of their most popular burgers in India is a vegetarian burger (Kuckreja, 2014).

6. Marketing Objectives

Brand-based objective

  1. Increase Pret's Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter followers by 25% in three months by posting content such as pictures of in-store food and drinks, offers, and customer experience videos; and promoting it through paid advertising to increase brand awareness and online word of mouth.

Sales-based objective

  1. For the first six months, run broadcasting, print media, and online campaigns near outlets to promote newly launched stores and bring in a minimum of 30,000 customers monthly.

  2. Achieve 20,000 online orders in the first three months with a minimum order value of INR 500 by running paid search campaigns optimised for conversions on Google Ads and Bind Ads contributing INR 10,000,000 (approximately GBP 100,000) to sales revenue.

7. Marketing Strategy

4Ps of Pret’s marketing strategy:

  • Product: Pret offers a variety of items, including hot beverages, sandwiches, salads, cold beverages, fruit pots, and more (figure 6). These items are available for purchase both in-store and online. Customers will be able to sit, eat, and spend time working or socialising inside Pret stores in the aforementioned Indian cities. Pret's innovative and unique product offering will give it a competitive advantage in the Indian market: a subscription service for multiple coffees at no additional cost and fresh & organic food prepared daily to ensure high quality.

(Figure 6)

Due to the cultural gap between India and Western countries, product adaptation will become an absolute necessity for Pret before its launch. KFC had to close down its operations in India once because it did not adapt to the market needs (Knowledge at Wharton, 2009). From Starbucks introducing “Tazo Tea” for tea lovers (Pandey et al., 2021) to KFC launching a vegetarian menu for Indians (Knowledge at Wharton, 2009), Pret needs to consider a series of changes in its processes to adapt to the Indian market. Starting by including Indian Tea in their hot drinks menu to serve a huge population of tea drinkers, separating the cooking process of vegetarian and non-vegetarian food to respect the religious values of the Hindu community, and serving no-beef and no pork menu (Knowledge at Wharton, 2009) to respect beliefs of Hindu and Muslim communities that constitute the majority of its population.

  • Price: Considering the purchasing power of Indian consumers is lower than the consumers in the UK, Pret will not be able to compete in the Indian market if it sells products at product prices in the UK. As shown in figure (7), on converting Pret UK’s product prices in Indian rupees and comparing them with the prices of Indian competitor products, it is found that Starbucks and CCD sell Latte at 33.4% and 59.4% lower prices. In comparison, it is 26.8% and 53% lower for an Americano. On comparing the cost of sandwiches, India’s most popular food chain, Subway, sells its veg sandwich for 172 INR, 64% cheaper than Pret’s veg sandwich. A survey showed that Indian consumers feel Starbuck beverages are extremely costly for them (Pandey et al., 2021), even when the prices have been reduced compared to their home countries. These comparisons signify the need to launch products 30% to 60% cheaper than UK product prices to penetrate the Indian market.

(Figure 7)

  • Promotion:

(Figure 8)

The proposed marketing strategy (figure 8) will help Pret achieve its sales-based and brand-based objectives. While traditional promotion methods such as television, radio, and newspaper ads will be used to promote newly opened stores, digital channels such as mobile app, email & paid search marketing, and social media marketing will be used to increase online orders and online brand awareness. The recommended marketing activities will be outsourced to specialised marketing agencies. Outsourcing marketing efforts will help Pret leverage its agency’s cultural knowledge of the Indian market, creative input, and external perspective to avoid marketing myopia.

Figures 9 and 10 explain the use of the shortlisted mediums of promotions and the rationale behind their selection.

(Figure 9)

(Figure 10)

Sample Ad Mockups for Ideation:

5. Target Market covers "Place" as the 4th P of marketing

8. Final Recommendations

  1. This report recommends Pret’s international expansion in India because it has one of the highest consumer spending on food and non-alcoholic beverages in Asia and a friendly business and economic environment.

  2. Due to drastic changes in income levels in urban & rural India, we recommend opening outlets in major cities like ​​Delhi, Goa, Chandigarh, and Haryana.

  3. The product price needs to be kept 30% to 60% cheaper than prices in the UK to compete against Indian rivals.

  4. Adaptation of a vegetarian menu & no-beef, no-pork offerings is necessary to penetrate and survive the market.

  5. The advertisements and promotions on selected channels should be in Hindi and English - these are the most common languages in India.


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