The Kuala Lumpur Restaurant & Dining Market Conundrum

[Food & Beverage]

Disclaimer – I am not food and beverage expert nor do I claim to be one. The following is purely my opinion based on my recent observations and conversations with brand owners, proprietors and consumers.

Being in the media gives me a unique position where we are the bridge between brands (in this case restaurants since we’re talking about the restaurant and dining market) with consumers.

Given the high level of competition these days from F&B establishments all vying for a shrinking pie of consumer spending, it’s not surprising to see shuttered restaurants in almost every neighbourhood, from upmarket Bangsar Baru, to the shoplots around Sunway Giza in Kota Damansara. Indeed it is quite a depressing sight and I can’t help but to wonder which of the restaurants could have survived and thrived if only they remembered and put into practise the “marketing mix” aka the 4 P’s of marketing – place, price, product, and promotion.

Some restaurants try to use digital and social media (traditional media is in most cases totally not affordable or cost-effective for independent restaurants or small businesses due to its high cost and falling reach), and it’s quite common to see restaurants inviting bloggers to review their outlets. While the lure of free food does appeal especially to hobbyist or “menu bloggers” aka bloggers who pretty much just copy and paste the info from the menu/ press release, the senior bloggers in the industry with high readership are generally quite selective when it comes to reviews, usually doing pro bono only for the premium and higher end establishments (or advertorials for outlets that pay of course).

This leaves restaurants in quite a fix, and hence the title of this feature.

What then should restaurant owners do? Keep on inviting the hobbyist/ menu bloggers and hope that people actually read their blogs?

What about hiring some Instagrammers to highlight their outlet? I personally think that this is the worst route a restaurant owner could take and is akin to throwing money to the wind. Social media influencers are most effective for top of mind brand recall for the big franchises like KFC, McDonald’s and similar brands, however if you’re a single outlet or have just a handful of outlets, this will not be a cost-effective platform to advertise in as the conversion rate will be too low to have any impact.

But wait! Tim Chew…you manage Malaysia’s Hottest Bloggers and you also provide social media influencers like Instagrammers. Why are you deriding your own service?

Well I also believe in being honest and ethical – I will not recommend a platform that is not effective to promote a product/ service. Why? Because when there is no impact, the brand owners will not have anything nice to say about me or my company, and I’m willing to lose the business and keep my reputation than sacrifice it for a few thousand ringgit. However there are many less than ethical agencies/ individuals out there who don’t give a damn about what happens to their clients, and will do just about anything for some business. You have been warned…

Let’s face the truth, times are not so rosy these days, and you need to be mindful of your Share of Voice (SOV) which directly affects your Share of Market (SOM). Should your SOV be reduced (to generate short-term profits) to a point where it becomes too low compared to your competitors, you will be at high risk of losing your SOM.

So don’t wait until your business is on the rocks to take action because (in all likelihood) by then it might just be too late.

If you’re a brand owner/ proprietor and you need some help with digital publicity, content marketing or social media engagement, feel free to drop me a line at timchew@myhotbloggers.com and we can have a little chat about what we can do for your brand/ establishment.

 

Somewhat related to the restaurant conundrum (above) is the state of some the shopping malls in the Klang Valley which are also facing challenges. This is a continuation of my series on the state of the shopping malls in the Klang Valley which ruffled some feathers in the industry (well mostly those of the struggling malls that I highlighted).

BTW you can read my previous posts here:

https://timchew.net/2016/08/09/challenges-facing-the-retail-industry-in-malaysia/

https://timchew.net/2016/12/21/mall-wars-starling-versus-damansara-city/

The biggest failure to date was that of SSTwo Mall in Petaling Jaya which close down and is scheduled for redevelopment after four and a half years of having barely any tenants (or customer traffic). Ref – http://www.theedgemarkets.com/my/article/sstwo-mall-sale

If the current depressed economic situation carries on for much longer, my bet is on Encorp Strand being the next to cease operations. The AEON Big which is just behind Encorp Strand is set to close at the end of the month, and will be one (1) of three (3) AEON Big stores scheduled to cease operations in the Klang Valley in the next month. Ref – http://www.theedgeproperty.com.my/taxonomy/term/10184/all

Sad to say, although our politicians keep telling us that the economy is rosy, the facts on the ground say it all – the Malaysian economy is in big trouble. Investor confidence is low due to the high level of corruption and low credibility of the powers that be, while household debt is rising to an all time high. Most retail clients of mine whom I’ve spoken to recently noted a drop in sales revenue due to the implementation of GST and the falling Ringgit, which resulted in higher prices of good and services which invariably led to less affordability for consumers who are already having to cope with decreasing disposable income.

The situation is undoubtedly very worrying indeed…

This time round, I’m highlighting the plights of Tropicana City Mall and 1 Mont’ Kiara and includes a revisit to Glo Damansara (that I highlighted previously). Anyway let’s start with 1 Mont’ Kiara.

On the surface, 1MK enjoys a pretty high occupancy rate, In fact, I estimate above 90% of the lots are occupied. However taking a closer look you'll see that not all is as it appears to be. Note the court orders pasted on the shutters.

On the surface, 1MK enjoys a pretty high occupancy rate, In fact, I estimate above 90% of the lots are occupied. However taking a closer look you’ll see that not all is as it appears to be. Note the court orders pasted on the shutters.

An empty lot on the ground floor. Another tenant quite brilliantly use the boarding to promote their own outlet which is tucked away in the corner.

An empty lot on the ground floor. Another tenant quite brilliantly use the boarding to promote their own outlet which is tucked away in the corner.

1mont-kiara-shopping-mall-4

1mont-kiara-shopping-mall-1

Looks like another abandoned outlet

 

Now on to Tropicana City Mall.

On the surface, everything looks fine and dandy

On the surface, everything looks fine and dandy

A closer inspection though, reveals a troubling sight

A closer inspection though, reveals a troubling sight. This pic was taken on the top floor near the cinema.

tropicana-city-mall-6

This was on one of the middle floors – a whole section of empty lots.

The Radioshack outlet has closed down

The Radioshack outlet has closed down

tropicana-city-mall-4

An abandoned restaurant?

tropicana-city-mall-3

An empty lot here, an empty lot there. This seems to be the story of the mall which in its early years had close to full occupancy.

  

And lastly, a visit to Glo Damansara, and lo and behold – nothing much has changed since my last visit which was in September 2016.

Ground floor

Ground floor

First floor

First floor

Shot from the first floor. There's a vendor selling toys on the ground floor but unfortunately there were no shoppers around.

Shot from the first floor. There’s a vendor selling toys on the ground floor but unfortunately there were no shoppers around.

Another shot of the ground floor.

Another shot of the ground floor.

Pretty dismal sight actually. Fortunately the LG floor where the Ben’s Independent Grocer and a couple of F&B outlets (facing the main road) are had more customer traffic.

.

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