In a part of the world where food and e-commerce are intrinsic to our cultures, it’s no surprise that food delivery services are among the fastest growing brands in the region. Riding this wave, Foodpanda was born in Berlin but quickly spread to Asia in 2012.
Foodpanda is now present in 400 cities in Asia and was recently launched in Laos, Cambodia and Myanmar. And in the past three years, it has achieved 1000% growth in APAC.
Idan Haim, APAC Vice President of Growth and Marketing at Foodpanda, is a big factor in this astronomical growth. Launching into new markets may be a way to amplify its presence, but Haim also wants to launch new products.
This is the case with Pandamart, a “quick trade” online retail service that delivers groceries and essentials in 20 minutes. Hourly grocery deliveries can be common, but Haim says this flash delivery model has never been done in the area. Pandamart now has 150 micro-warehouses across Asia from which items are distributed to customers.
Is in-housing more effective than calling for a pitch?
Understanding Foodpanda’s success is understanding its internal marketing processes. It is one of the few startups in the region to have a complete, end-to-end internal marketing team: 150 employees across the region. This streamlines the work and reduces the dependence of the team on the pitch or the mandates with the agencies. On top of that, marketing and growth are merged under one department as confirmed by Haim’s title.
“We have a pretty unique setup where we combine marketing and growth,” Haim says. “We have more traditional marketing teams in charge of media and branding, customer growth, brand attributes and awareness. And then we have a very analytical, high-growth team that focuses on demand, strategy and planning, and pricing. “
The teams responsible for the company’s growth and profitability work side by side, but these are often left behind and segregated into the marketing functions of competitors.
“[Separating the two] makes it a lot less efficient, a lot slower, and they often clash, ”says Haim. “We believe we have found an effective way to merge profitability and growth by bringing the two functions together. “
One of the benefits of merging the two teams, according to Haim, is an increase in internal resources, especially in the testing and planning stages. For example, a technical center has been formed to experiment with new tools, and since the team is under the marketing function, they are able to focus on campaign messages and customer feedback.
This way, the campaigns are also more easily localized. “We will be able to perform the most specific tasks [promotions] that are relevant to each market, associated with the most relevant campaign messages and creatives, ”says Haim. “In terms of budget and goals, everything is under one roof. “
To support this structure, Foodpanda houses a large internal brand team including content, creation, design and in-house production. And in every market, it has strong senior teams to take the lead in local content.
It is important for Haim that the brand has strong local teams so that they do not fall into the traps of prejudices or stereotypes. And instead of briefing several agencies in different markets, the in-house means that these local teams are able to maintain the consistency of the brand’s regional message.
“In our mindset, we want to have the best of local knowledge and understand the local perspective, while having the efficiency to produce and scale things regionally,” Haim said. “We sometimes work with agencies, especially for more local and specific productions. But for many of our campaigns, we produce and conceptualize them regionally and then [localising] and deploy it in several markets.
Haim and his team have tried different setups in the past, but found that strong internal and local teams in the areas of marketing and growth produced the most efficiency in terms of cost and use of information.
“We find that some of our main competitors operate in very different ways than us,” says Haim.
“One of our main competitors is hyper-centralized. We see that for campaigns in multiple regions, they may have only one campaign setup, and they only change the cast and language. It is above all a unique approach. The messages don’t really resonate with the locals and they don’t really hit the mark. And on the other hand, some of our other competitors are going in the opposite direction where it is only local work, which is great but will lead to financial inefficiencies and inconsistency in messaging.
So how do processes actually work in a “balanced” setup like Foodpanda’s?
First, the campaign, content, and creative teams come up with ideas and storytelling before it’s executed by an in-house production team. If it is a regional job, like its recent Ramadan campaign, the regional teams, which are mainly based in Singapore and Bangkok, will work with the local teams to go over details such as storyboards and casting. . Each work must see and Feel local.
This process, in addition to being profitable for Foodpanda, allows it to scale at a faster pace compared to a more traditional launch process. Haim says that since the company is growing extremely quickly and operates in 12 countries, internally means it can influence work speed and growth through internal control.
“We produce a significant number of creative works each month for each market. We want to be able to evolve very quickly, which will help us to be more aggressive in each of the markets, ”explains Haim.
But if a campaign is for only one market, Haim can hire a local project-based agency to help with execution. For example, in Hong Kong, local creative agency Curious Few was commissioned to direct a recent campaign with comedian and actor Dayo Wong.
“For the most part, we built everything from scratch,” says Haim. “We didn’t achieve 1000% growth just like that. We had to evolve our team and make sure we got people quick and nimble enough to meet our changing needs. “
The power of pink
One of Foodpanda’s recent efforts has been a brand refresh that included a new visual identity and a refreshed mobile app interface.
“We really felt the need to refresh the way we communicate, to meet the wants and needs of our customers,” says Haim. “The process took about six months. Since we started conceptualizing, we’ve been working from customer feedback on what they think of our brand.
An OOH billboard showcasing the Foodpanda brand refresh
During this process, Haim and his team discovered that people resonated with the brand’s bright pink colors. Pink has been the Foodpanda brand color since 2018 as a conscious choice to visually stand out from its competitors. For context, GrabFood and Deliveroo sport shades of green as the primary colors.
The Haim team also found that Foodpanda’s panda mascot, which appears on rider backpacks, the app and at partner restaurants, remains the top priority for consumers. They therefore decided to keep these two main assets and instead focus on the diversification of colors and shapes.
“The panda is a unique trait to us that none of our other competitors have. We use the panda to highlight the joy, ”Haim explains. “And on top of that, we were very proud of the pink. We think pink is a strong identifier for us. But we were looking for colors to complement it, to make it shine. So we added both yellow, which is nicer, and blue, which is more rebellious. Just to give the brand some oomph.
She adds that the brand sees itself as both friendly and rebellious, and the refresh aims to represent these two qualities equally.
Haim said: “In Japan, for example, we used Naomi Watanabe as a brand ambassador. She may not be an obvious choice over another actor or singer. She is very nervous. It is very controversial. She is greedy. So we saw a lot of overlap with how we wanted to see each other. “