It started out as a hotdog stand established by three Egyptian immigrants in New York City in 1990. It was one of MANY. After listening to clients, specifically Muslim Taxi Drivers, the owners decided to convert their hotdog stand to a food cart serving Halal food – and thus the The Halal Guys was born.
Halal food is food, particularly meat, that is prepared as prescribed by the Quran (Wright & Annes, 2013), and from the name of the cart itself, the business targeted the growing muslim population in New York which had an unanswered demand for accessible, fast, and affordable Halal street food.
Fast forward 25 years, The Halal Guys have grown so popular that their original target market of Muslim New Yorkers is now only 5% of their customer base ! Their customers span from office workers, to bar hoppers, to tourists, with the queues for their platters and gyros going around city blocks. They now have 5 Food carts and 2 restaurants in New York AND are in the process of franchising 200 restaurants in other cities in the U.S., Canada, Malaysia, Indonesia, and the Philippines.
In October 13, 2015, The Halal Guys opened their very first international branch at the Mega Food Hall of SM Megamall and a few months later opened their second branch in Bonifacio High Street, both in Manila.
As Filipinos in general idolise everything U.S., The Halal Guys have the attention of the market, from Filipino tourists that have tried it when they visited NYC and want to taste it again without traveling thousands of kilometers to the relatives and friends of OFW’s (Overseas Filipino Workers) who have heard rave stories about the gyro-and-platter-serving food cart.
This is all well and good but the U.S. market and the Philippine market has some major differences. Consumers have different wants, needs, preferences and resources (Armstrong et al, 2015), and since the Philippine market typically wants ‘American’, the customers’ resources is what the Philippine franchisee of The Halal Guys have to focus on.
The Halal Guys menu pricing does not differ much between their US branches and Philippine branches (to maintain food quality), but the average income of their customers vastly differ. With a budget of Php300-500.00 for a gyro/platter and drink, the average Filipino with a Php 191,000.00/annum salary simply cannot afford to eat there.
TARGETING and POSITIONING
Several factors must be considered when targeting a market segment: segment size and growth, segment attractiveness, and the segment’s compatibility to the company’s objectives and resources (Armstrong et al, 2015). As we can see in the Philippine Socio-Economic Classes Table, Classes A, B, and C, are the segments who can afford the menu prices of The Halal Guys.
The Philippine franchisee decided to position their first two branches in the Food Court of SM Megamall and the open air section of Bonifacio High Street, both high-end malls in Metro Manila who cater mostly to these classes. Now, these malls are a far cry from the streets of NYC and atmosphere is a big part of the experience and this has been raised by food critics. Zach Brooks of midtownlunch.com (a streetfood blog) has put it simply “In a lot of ways you can’t take street meat off the streets”. This sentiment has been mirrored in a few Philippine foodie reviews (especially by critiques who have had the good fortune of partaking at the NYC food carts).
Due to this change in target markets, certain aspects of the product, have to be adjusted to meet the preferences of the company’s target customers. The first thing to go is the ambience. Say goodbye the experience of queuing for and eating your gyro and falafel on the streets and say hello doing that at the foodcourt. And as the lines suggest, getting your product to your customers when and where they want it is the key.
Armstrong, G, Adam, S, Denize, S & Kotler, P 2015, Principles of Marketing, Pearson, Melbourne.
Wright, W & Annes, A 2013, ‘Halal on the Menu?: Contested Food Politics and French identity in fast-food’, Journal of Rural Studies, October 2013 32:388-399 DOI: 10.1016/j.jrurstud.2013.08.001
Student Name: Ryan Otchengco
Student Number: 215425614