Gurugram-based foodtech unicorn Zomato took a stand on a religious controversy yesterday. The company was replying to a tweet by Amit Shukla, who had announced that he did not want a ‘non-Hindu’ deliveryman since it was the month of Shravan and it went against his faith. The company refused to refund and said “food doesn’t have a religion. It is a religion.”
Even though the tweet and the user have disappeared, Madhya Pradesh police has taken suo motu complaint against Shukla. On the other hand, Zomato had a field day with angry users with #BoycottZomato, defenders as well as negative rankings.
App Annie data showed that Zomato’s ranking in the Overall category on Google Play Store fell 10 points from 28 to 38 in one day, while its ranking among apps only (excluding games) fell to 32 from 25 over July 30 and 31.
The controversy has spiralled from one negative feedback to a barrage of negative tweets, reviews and ratings. We noted that on July 31, the company received 8,918 reviews, out of which 5,866 were one-star rating, followed by negative reviews. On the previous day, it only received 300 such one-star ratings, which is about the average number of negative reviews it gets on a daily basis, according to App Annie data.
While soon after its tweet, there was a positive response on Twitter, with users supporting the “secularist” stand, the negative comments took over soon. Since then over 100K tweets have tweeted against Zomato through the #BoycottZomato and #ZomatoUninstalled.
The case went on to topple down further with differences over Halal and non-halal meat. The company had to explain why it has a separate tag, but kept being questioned on the “bigotry”. Over the last two days, trending topics on Twitter have been
UberEats found itself in the cross-fire when it tweeted its support to Zomato. As a result, the UberEats saw plenty of negative comments on Twitter. Several users tweeted about uninstalling UberEats along with Zomato, with #BoycottUberEats also trending in India.
Zomato CEO Deepinder Goyal put in his support in a strong manner by tweeting, “We are proud of the idea of India – and the diversity of our esteemed customers and partners. We aren’t sorry to lose any business that comes in the way of our values.”
To put this into perspective, according to the last available data, Zomato processes 38 Mn orders per month.
Of course, this is not the first time a brand has found itself in such a controversy. Earlier this year, Surf Excel created an advertisement around the Hindu-Muslim unity theme and found itself stuck in a middle of a Twitter storm for supposedly hurting religious sentiments.