Grouping together brands from inside and outside the country and then quantifying the number of online “fans” from Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter each side could boast, the study revealed that the F&B segment has been growing at a rate of over 11% for local brands, compared to just under 3% for international brands.
While the pace of growth has been swift in the F&B category, it is still outpaced by the rise of domestic travel and tourism (15.5%), technology products (15.4%) and automobiles (12.8%).
The study also found that domestic F&B brands recorded an almost five-times better engagement rate through social media than incoming international players, with 5.6% versus 1.2% respectively.
This ratio is by far the highest out of all the 10 segments surveyed, which also included telecoms, jewellery and watches, health and beauty, education, banks and financial services and apparel.
Fans of leading Indian F&B brands on Facebook alone have grown by over 11% over the last year, although the average number of fans for a global brand is 13 times the average number for a leading Indian label.
Cafe Coffee Day, the Indian F&B brand with the biggest Facebook following, found its “likes” growing by to 2.9mn in August, up over 62% from January’s 1.1 million.
Ajay Sharma, managing partner at Ketchum Sampark, told FoodNavigator-Asia that many local brands have achieved successful tie-ins with current events.
"Three out of the top 10 domestic brands are promoting the ICC Twenty20 World Cup, which is taking place in Sri Lanka at the moment. This is clearly working well alongside their marketing to drive traffic through social media," said Sharma.
"Moveover, a couple of brands have also been associating with big Bollywood movies, and that has been successful. Other than that, consumer promotions and offers have largely been ongoing across all the main brands."
Bursting into tiers
More broadly speaking, recent widespread growth in internet usage across smaller and more rural cities—traditionally strongholds for local brands—has also played a significant part in the rise of domestic F&B social uptake.
“Internet penetration as well as social media usage from outside the top 20 Indian cities is now estimated at more than 60 percent of overall usage in India," Sharma added.
“That coupled with the growing use of internet over mobile devices offers a significant avenue for brands to connect with customers not just in Tier-I markets but also in Tier-II and III markets using the power of social media. Even more than the growth in fan bases, the ability to drive engagement will become the most relevant part of any campaign.”