Who wouldn’t know restaurants such as Bakerzin, Pepper Lunch, Marugame Udon, Kintan buffets or even Shaburi? All these popular chain of restaurants belong to Boga Group, a fast growing restaurant group in Indonesia serving various culinary delights. Established in September 2002, Boga Group today operates over 150 restaurants across Indonesia, employing over 5,000 people.
It all started with Boga Group’s President Director Kusnadi Rahardja’s hard work over almost two decades, to build Boga Group. Starting with bringing a Singapore-based brand, Bakerzin to Jakarta back in 2002, Boga Group’s footprint has continued to expand, serving a variety of cuisines tailored to Indonesian tastes and creating new lifestyle brands.
Marked with its aggressive growth in the increasingly crowded Indonesian culinary business scene, Kusnadi believes Boga Group’s success cannot be separated from USP brought by each of its brands. Not infrequently, the uniqueness of its brands shapes trends which are often followed by competitors. As President Director, Kusnadi is able to lead Boga Group to become a well-positioned culinary brand in the Indonesian food and beverage business landscape.
In a conversation with Annisa Bella from Marketeers, Kusnadi shares some stories and key strategies that F&B players could follow to win over competition in the Indonesian market.
1. How do you see the landscape of F&B business in Indonesia? Where are the most potential area for the F&B business in Indonesia?
Very interesting and very challenging at the same time because there are many new players coming in. There is immense promise in culinary business in Indonesia. You can see that there are so many new culinary players arriving in Pantai Indah Kapuk or Senopati. Jabodetabek, Bandung and Surabaya are the cities where the restaurant business is rapidly growing, in line with the welcome response from customers.
2. Despite the rapid expansion, we frequently see many shutdowns. Many people say lifespan of F&B business is no more than three years. What do you think is the main cause of this?
There are many. Some players launch concepts that are “too early” for the Indonesian market. Some players may have poor management, or don’t end up receiving any positive response from the community.
3. Are there changes in F&B consumer behavior in Indonesia?
There are. And it is very clear. In the past, there were many brands which focused on catering to the general tastes of consumers. For example a Chinese food restaurant, they provide a variety of foods, ranging from Dim Sum, beef, to dessert in one restaurant. However, with time, I see there is a change that these restaurants focus on several menus, or even just one menu. From a general menu to more specialty items on the menu.
In the past, we sold everything at Sushi Tei, from Sushi, Sashimi, Tempura, Ramen, and various menus. However, over time, we began to specialize. This is the reason why we make our restaurant specialized, like if you are looking for shabu-shabu, you can go to Shaburi ,akiniku to Kintan, and katsu at Kimukatsu.I believe, the consumer will continue to be exposed to outside culture, and the result is, restaurant with specialty menus will grow in number.
4. Bringing foreign brands to Indonesia is clearly not an easy job. What adjustments do you make?
Foreign brands must be adjusted because food is something that depends on the tongue, on the taste of Indonesia. Not only between Japan and Indonesia, but also between Medan and Surabaya, the consumer palette is quite different. Thus, the challenge for us is not just adapting the menu from Japan to Indonesia but how to adapt it from one part of Indonesia to another.
Medan people prefer spicy food, Javanese like sweet food and Bali People prefer salty tastes, this is the challenge we face. For this reason, we are looking for solutions, for example, for places that prefer savory flavors, we provide chili sauce, we provide options, but what we prioritize is original flavors. However, we do invite them to adjust the taste according to their tongues, but the taste obtained may not be authentic.
5. What do you believe are the Unique Selling Points of Boga Group of restaurants?
We don’t want to be a copycat. Before we bring the brand, surely we will see whether this brand brings something new to the market. Does it make a difference in the market? So, we don’t want to indulge in “me too”.
Then, we move to explore the Unique Selling Point (USP). For example, when we launched the concept of the All-You-Can-Eat restaurant, at that time we saw that there was no shabu-shabu restaurant that came with the All You Can Eat concept. As a result, we considered this to be our key selling point.Another example is the Putu Made restaurant that we launched. This came from the market insight wherein we saw there was no Balinese player who was serious about taking Balinese cuisine to the next level, so we went there. So that each of our brands has their own USP in accordance with the target market.
6. What is your opinion about the trend of halal lifestyle affecting F&B business?
Halal lifestyle has become something common. For example, if we go to Malaysia there are so many eastern or middle east people who come there because they can chose a variety of halal food options. So I think this has become a global trend and should be adopted. Especially, Indonesia is one of the countries with the largest Muslim population in the world. Giving consumers a sense of security and ease by providing them with halal-certified dishes can help F&B businesses expand their consumer base.
Boga Group also does not want to limit the opportunity for the average consumer to try the mainstays of food brought by Boga to Indonesia, so we gradually ensure that our restaurants are certified halal.On the other hand, for Indonesia, this is one of the key strategies that the government can take to advance tourism in Indonesia, one of which is by developing halal tourism. We as culinary players, are glad to help spread the idea of halal tourism.
7. What is your outlook of F&B industry in Indonesia? What is something that every player must take note of?
Culinary business will keep growing along with economic growth of Indonesia or even faster. The dynamic political situation does not really disrupt the business, except when there is a demonstration. What the players must be aware of is quality. The challenge for F&B players is whether they are able to continue serving food with the same standard of quality and service. These are the key challenges for F&B players.