About ‘Just Falafel’:
Falafel is a Middle Eastern traditional food made of spiced mashed chickpeas. Falafel has remained to be a vegetarian alternative or accompaniment to the king of Middle Eastern street food ‘Shawerma’ (non-vegetarian sandwich) for centuries. ‘Just Falafel’ is a UAE based company established in 2007 starting with one fast food outlet in the country’s capital. Today they have around 52 restaurants in 18 countries open and still growing. Over 700 outlets are planned around the globe.
From day one, Just Falafel positioned itself as the only premium alternative as they entered an already saturated street food market that is offering this traditional falafel. They achieved this with some ‘out of the box’ thinking which totally re-branded this traditional recipe on par with other multinational fast food chains in the region.
They adapted falafel to the current lifestyle by adapting it to 10 different pallets, from burgers to Italian, Japanese, Quesadillas, Mexican and Indian sandwiches combined with various topping options from around the globe and coupled with messages focussed on healthy nutritional eating. This helped garner the required limelight and opened the gates to more health conscious multi-ethnic foodies in the region to try it out.
Just Falafel’s Business Objective:
Given the insight that this is a widely and easily available fast food item, the objective was to grow as fast as possible and saturate the chosen market. The added advantage came from the food itself with all its ‘real vegetarian’ proposition which was easier to position it among the multi-ethnic society which is already under the influence from various health & lifestyle campaigns and advertisements.
In 2012, when the company sought after an expansion spree they looked towards social media as its ‘communication highway’ according to CEO Fadi Malas He further refers to Facebook saying, ‘…and if this is where the one billion users are, this is where we wanted to communicate our brand to give it the highest possible exposure…’ emphasising the power of communication that originated from the fan base. Their strategy and communication was no different from their traditional campaigns except that now the reach was even faster given the viral nature of social media.
Approach/Strategy Adopted by Just Falafel:
Create a Facebook page that will boost brand/product awareness and build a loyal fan following.
First Just Falafel created an informative Facebook Page that delivered messages about its brand as well as information about its growing business. This promoted brand awareness.
The Page was designed to engage existing fans and attract new fans at the same time communicating the potential of the Just Falafel brand to appeal to interested users in opening new Just Falafel franchises. How was this achieved?
- Existing fans of the FB page witnessed Just Faafel’s CSR campaigns including UN World Food Program, Education funding, identifying sports talent etc., which in turn converted this towards brand loyalty and credibility.
- New fans increased the user base, thanks to an always-on campaign that will publish lifestyle topics covering nutrition, health etc., These posts will have a ‘Like’ option that triggers the post into other new potential fan pages.
Finally, Just Falafel embedded a franchise app which was embedded on its Facebook Page. The app invited franchise leads to submit their contact information and request additional information about Just Falafel’s business opportunities. It also drove traffic to the franchise section of the company’s website.
Second phase of attack was once again through Facebook. Just Falafel then launched a Facebook Ad campaign that featured like ads and a direct link to the franchise app. These ads were targeted to a specific demography of businessmen from specific strategic markets. Usage of relevant keyword clusters added fuel to campaign. To further maximise the campaign’s reach, Just Falafel purchased a series of reach blocks in one of its key markets. This enabled it to reach a broad audience quickly. This led to a further potential to strengthen the image of an aspiring brand by showcasing ads that featured videos and photos of upcoming new outlets and new locations.
Now, Just Falafel went into an ‘always on campaign mode’ that made sure to post announcements about its delivery services, Corporate Responsibility activation and branch openings on its Page. It then used Facebook Ads and sponsored stories to push these messages to its fans. These also coupled with sponsored stories featuring a Page like option. The sponsored stories appeared in the news feeds of fans’ friends and included the name of the friend who had already liked Just Falafel.
In summary, Just Falafel educated the fan base about the product and all the goodness that comes with it to position falafel as a core food category and this was achieved rapidly whilst almost spending a small proportion of what must’ve otherwise incurred heavy cost and overheads via traditional campaigns. This benefitted both value to the franchises and ROI that multiplied.
Results Achieved by Just Falafel:
12-month campaign used Facebook pages and Facebook ads. Their franchise campaigns were overwhelming, they see a maximum of 300 requests in a single day.
- The Reach Block generated 140% increase in fans in the targeted market.
- 2300+ franchise requests from 73 different countries
- 140% increase in fans in the targeted market through the Reach Block
- 3rd biggest Facebook page in the middle east
- 1000+ stores internationally by 2020
With the backing of the above-listed metrics, the brand is now expanding into the wider street food market (which is not ‘just’ falafel) and rebranded themselves as ‘JF Street Food’, gearing itself to face head-on with the international brands like McDonalds, Burger King etc.,
The company totally acknowledges the momentum created by social media and its followers, this propelled them into a vicious cycle that has made them to invest more and more into social media campaigns in combination with various CSR campaigns that only builds credibility and transparency between the company and the large user base. They used the opportunity that existed to make the brand popular. This is evident from the new CEO, Michael Biggins, who says, ‘Just Falafel’s franchising model was opportunistic, rather than strategic”.
Photo Credits: Just Falafel (www.justfalafel.com)