Zomato Originals: No, Zomato is not trying to enter the content landscape.
I read a post on LinkedIn today. Though there was a definite intent to be funny, it showed a clear dissociation between what Zomato is doing, and how many are perceiving it as. This is a screengrab of the post I came across:
It couldn’t get any less accurate than this. Unfortunately, this was not the first time I came across such a thing. I came across an article on a reputed media publication that peddled the narrative: “Zomato just launched its Original webseries, and will now give a stiff competition to Netflix and Amzon Prime.”
Seriously guys? I understand clickbait, but this is just ridiculous!
WHAT EXACTLY IS ZOMATO ORIGINALS?
As per a post on the company’s official blog, the company will launch 18 Original shows over a period of the next 90 days. Some of these proposed shows have been detailed out on the post, and the Youtube promo the company has released as a teaser seems to hit some sweet notes.
A lot of us (myself included) would be able to relate when the company says that food and video content go hand in hand. For me, if I am watching something, I need something to munch on. Although, I don’t watch food videos, I am more of a Brooklyn Nine Nine guy myself. Btw, if you haven’t watched 99, I suggest you watch this video immediately.
Anyway, so it is some form of a video content that the company is putting out for its users to consume. You could start to see some sense behind all the “Netflix, Prime competition” reporting till the time you look at some of the shows the company has listed down.
WHY ZOMATO ORIGINALS ARE NOTHING REMOTELY LIKE NETFLIX AND THE LIKES OF IT?
Because of the nature of the content.
Let us take a look at some of the content we can expect from the business under this initiative:
Every single one of them is about Food!! Even the ‘fun’ segments like “Dude, where’s the food with Jordindian”. They will all revolve around different aspects of our culinary lives. In one show, you would get to see a master chef debunk myths and perceptions surrounding food, in another, you would be taken on a nostalgia trip as you get to see a chef learn the secret behind the finger-licking taste of “dadi ke haath ka khaana”. It is all about food, and it appears to be planned with the mindset of giving consumers micro-content that they can consume in small dosages, while they are on the app.
Zomato is not making a content-series about the horrors of a haunted house, or the caped crusaders. It is not making a series about the underworld mafia. They are producing content around everything about food. Things that will help them connect with their audience even more. Although, to be honest, I would love to see a series around the horrors of culinary mistakes and unmasking of some popular food-joints, but because of the controversial nature behind some of those ideas, I would not be holding my breath for them to start featuring anytime soon.
HOW WILL ZOMATO ORIGINALS HELP THE COMPANY?
Because good content is memorable, it hangs around in your thoughts long after you have stopped consuming it. And food, fashion, and travel are the three categories that have always led the mindshare of consumers in the content domain. So why shouldn’t Zomato — a company built around the promise of helping you lick your fingers clean — capitalize on an obvious interest area of their consumer-base?
As a business, one of the biggest problems you face is that of engagement. People come on to your platform when they have an immediate need of it, do what they needed to do, and then they go off. Whether it is Zomato or Uber, that is exactly how we use the platform. A very small percentage of us would take the time to leave a feedback or a review on a place we visited, the rest of us would just consume that content when that is aligned with what our expectations from the app are and then be done with it. These apps don’t get to see engagement from their audience, and as such, the chances of the users churning out is much higher.
Content helps you build a community. It helps you drive engagement. It helps you with brand recall. It helps your customers associate you more and more with your business segment. It adds a lot of intrinsic value to your business overall. And that engagement is the whole play here. Zomato is trying to have more and more consumers spend more time on their platforms, and move in a direction where the name of the brand starts becoming synonymous with ‘food’.
FROM WHAT IT LOOKS LIKE, IT IS A GOOD START
I think it is quite obvious by now that Zomato has found a fan in me by its most recent move, but other than that, the first thing which impressed me was the format in which these videos will apparently be presented for consumption.
In portrait mode!!!
Video has traditionally been produced in landscape mode. If you have your phone held sideways, it is assumed that you are either watching a video, or you are playing a game. So investing money into consciously creating portrait videos is a bold move, and it is a move aimed at one simple goal — have consumers consume the content without having to change their phone use behavior. You are on the app in portrait mode, stay that way. We have adapted to that.
Portrait mode videos see more engagement because they don’t present the barrier of ‘I will watch this video properly later’.
And if I were to make a prediction, I would predict that Deepinder Goyal and Zomato would be releasing these videos with built-in closed captioning — so that people can consume the content no matter where they are, without having the need to opt for earphones.
If you want your audience to adopt your product, you need to adapt your product to their usage experience and not expect them to change theirs to fit in with yours. You don’t move against the current.
THE FUTURE OF ZOMATO ORIGINALS?
Or, what could this seemingly innocent experiment eventually lead to?
I remember watching a Youtuber who had launched his own line of cooking utensils and kitchen accessories, to capitalize on the massive following his videos had helped him build over the years.
Why do you think Zomato couldn’t do that? Eventually!
Although, if Zomato is to move that route, I would expect it to foray into “DIY food packs” first. Build chilli chicken alongside Sanjeev Kapoor, just the way he makes it — Zomato will pre-pack all that you will need for it. And the content will walk you through the whole process, right to garnishing and presentation.
Food is an experience. It is a delight. It is an art-form. It helps you connect with friends, it helps you become the celebrity in a closed group. It helps you break ice.
Zomato is just trying to close the loop on what ALL it could be for its customers when the customer thinks food.