You’ll find it in Malaysia, Dubai and the UK (among several other international destinations), where it has the distinct taste of home. It is fast building a global empire, but its roots are in the local communities it serves with pride. And although it’s not scared to take a hard look at social issues – or to speak out about them – it maintains a soft spot for its consumers with an awareness that it touches their lives in many ways.
That’s what makes Nando’s such a special brand, according to Thulani Mahlangu, Brand Manager (Marketing Support Southern Africa Region). Of course, the story of the company’s beginnings also plays a part here: Robbie Brozin and Fernando Duarte opened the first restaurant as a little neighbourhood eatery. It now has close to 273 restaurants around the country and more than 1 000 worldwide, employing over 7 000 people. Yet, despite the fact that you can order your favourite flame-grilled peri-peri chicken in Botswana, Swaziland, Namibia, Lesotho, Nigeria, Zimbabwe, Congo, Asia, Australia, Sri Lanka, New Zealand and Washington DC, Nando’s has always remained true to its heritage.
Part of that heritage includes daring to comment on social issues, where other brands would prefer to keep mum. The public has come to view Nando’s as the voice of the people: “Because we’re willing to comment on all aspects of life – from politics to celebrities – we’ve been able to enter arenas usually closed to other brands. What’s more, the light-hearted, irreverent way it addresses these issues has endeared it to the public, enabling it to forge a rare and special connection with consumers,” says Mahlangu.
This connection is fostered further by its unique product. In a landscape dominated by unhealthy fast foods, often of questionable quality, Nando’s stands out for offering an authentic taste experience. ‘Experience’ is the key word here, because Nando’s prides itself not only on offering absolutely delicious peri-peri chicken, but doing so in an environment that’s several notches up from the usual quick service restaurant, complete with outstanding service and attractive surrounds.
In spite of already having carved a name for itself in these areas, Nando’s continues to look for the fresh, the new, the impressive. For instance, it’s soon to be launched new, tangy tomato flavour will help to win more fans among those who previously thought the brand was for chilli-lovers only. Plus, the introduction of the new Kota bun to the public is helping to spread Nando’s appeal to a new profile of customers. This is important, because Nando’s has traditionally been perceived as a high-end, premium brand. This reputation is well earned; after all, Nando’s refuses to compromise on quality and, even during the recession, refused to cut corners simply to offer customers a discount. The product is made from Grade A chicken marinated for 24 hours, with no colourants or preservatives. Maintaining Nando’s health proposition is all-important; so, while competitors may be able to lower their prices by offering an inferior product, Nando’s will never do so.
Nando’s has applied the same spirit of innovation to its restaurants, and has embarked on a revamping exercise that will see more than 60 outlets redesigned before the end of 2011. Five looks have been created – Afro Vintage, Afro Chic, Afro Eish, Afro Organic and Retro Chic – so that from a design perspective, customers have a different experience at each outlet (although service and quality obviously remain the same). The brand has worked hard to tap into the spirit of the communities in which it operates, becoming a pillar to the people it serves. The redesign has also given Nando’s an opportunity to address practical issues, like providing inviting seating space where customers can wait for their meals, and introducing signage to increase the restaurants’ visibility.
This has been a priority for the brand, because its advertising budget is relatively small...