Branding Lessons from Pune’s Icons – how Marzorin did it.

Vijay Sheriyar

What does it take for a small eatery on MG Rd to thrive for 55 plus years? What drives people to that quaint little place when large, posh Subways offer the same thing – sandwiches? How has Marzorin survived its early days and thrived over decades? What is the secret?

In 1965 a small-time retailer refused to get bullied by an MNC – Coca-Cola. Says Vijay Sheriyar, wife of Jamshed, the founder who is now 82, “my husband in those days was known for frozen Coke where he froze the Coke bottle in a way that not only did it freeze, but you could also drink from it. But the giant Coca-Cola tried to flex its muscles, so Jamshed got out of it.”

Branding Lesson – in the food business, the taste is paramount. And two, never ignore what your customer is telling you. Respond quickly and to his satisfaction.

“Jamshed is a very impatient man. Even at home, he must have the food on the table immediately, he cannot wait. And in the sixties, every restaurant was relaxed, too slow for his liking. He started with the idea of a Quick Service Restaurant (QSR). He started with four types of sandwiches – Veg, Cheese, Chutney and Chicken. Anyone could come in and walk out with their order in a matter of minutes.”

And walk in they did. “The doctors from AFMC and the cadets from NDA, Khadakwasla loved it. And so QSR became a hit in sleepy lil Pune. The QSR though was created out of necessity. Says Vijay, “Jamshed had saved Rs. 2,000 to become a life member of some club. But he chose to invest it in Marzorin. That meant very little money to keep staff. His mother used to run a bakery, so the bread came from there, and he developed his own chutney. He is a very fastidious eater so the chutney recipe was created by him. In those days he sat at the gala, made the sandwiches, did everything himself.”

If Coca-Cola has a secret recipe, so does Marzorin have its secret chutney. “It’s the same even today,” says Vijay. “And that is what drives people to Marzorin.” So, what is it that has kept Marzorin successful over 55 years? If you ask me, it is the taste of our food. In the food business, you cannot afford to ignore taste, you have to give great food – that is the starting point.

“And I think it is also how you treat your customer. For us, customer feedback is of prime importance. Even today, when we are so busy, if a customer has a complaint, I personally take all their numbers and call them up to find out the problem and then solve it.”

Vijay gives the example of one customer who reported that the biscuits were not crisp enough and had become soft. “When I spoke to him, I got all the details and checked those biscuits. After many conversations, I found out the real cause – he had bought sugar-free biscuits. Sugar-free biscuits cannot stay crisp for long, since sugar gives it its crispness. I sent him two packets – one with sugar and one with sugar-free and explained the reason. He loved it. Even though he is diabetic, he still eats the sugar biscuits.”

Years ago, a customer asked Jamshed why not make the mayonnaise a little spicier? Says Vijay, “Jamshed made it spicy and called it Zoom sauce, which is popular even today. Listening to your customers, responding to their queries satisfactorily, is what helps in building loyalty.”

Marzorin is planning on expansion. “We already have a branch at Wanowri and more are in the works.” Change is the only constant and as technology offers more convenience, Marzorin has adapted them, such as digitizing many functions, getting on the online platforms and so on. But what has remained the same is delicious food, the secret chutney and prompt response to customer feedback.

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