Building a National Brand: The JustEat Way!

Online food-delivery service provider JustEat has made impressive strides in cracking the Indian food-ordering space. We speak to Ritesh Dwivedy, JustEat’s Founder and CEO, to find out what’s driving the company’s success.

JustEat is a food-ordering and a table-reservation website. What makes your offering unique? 

I would say we have three big differentiators. The first is choice. We have a very wide coverage of restaurants in terms of total number of restaurants, types of cuisines they serve, range of meal prices, payment options etc. We undertake a very granular area-level analysis so that we have something for everyone’s taste and budget.

Additionally, you can place orders through our Android, iOS and Windows apps and on our website, thus giving the user a wide choice and comfort that “don’t worry when you are hungry. You can place orders on through any screen you are logged in to.” Our second differentiator is convenience. We work very hard to make ordering through JustEat a fast and convenient option. Mobile apps, cross-browser support, order automation, and online-payment-enabled restaurants are just some of the features which ensure this.

Finally, customer-centricity. We take pride in our “customer is always right” ethos. We take customer complaints very seriously, focusing first on immediate resolution and then on the root cause to reduce the number of such complaints.

What do you think is core to JustEat’s brand?

Through our global re-branding last year under the “Don’t Cook Just Eat” slogan, we wanted to position ourselves as a challenger brand. But, there is a subtle difference in our usage of a challenger brand. A challenger brand is generally a small company, which has to overcome relatively lower marketing budget with innovations in marketing messages and media placements. We are the pioneer and leader in the food-ordering space in India. So, by challenger brand, we don’t actually mean challenging any competitors but rather implicit assumptions about cooking.

Core to the current JustEat branding is the insight that cooking is not always as simple, smooth and soul-satisfying as it may appear while watching MasterChef. We can bet that apart from those who are passionate about cooking, for all others who have to cook for themselves and others in their family, cooking soon becomes some kind of drudgery. The next time someone says that they will whip something up for dinner in 15 minutes when the maid doesn’t arrive, you can politely remind him or her that noodles with sauce is not dinner and is as unhealthy as any take-away you can order.

You now operate in four cities – Bangalore, Delhi, Pune, and Mumbai. But in the business of food, what works in one city may not work in another. Did you face any challenges in your messaging across cultures and geography?

You are right that in the business of food, what works in one city may not work in another. So gaining stronghold in a city, and then trying to xerox that model in other cities would have been a fatal mistake, something we have been careful to avoid. It really starts from the basics like sales territory assignment (area of the city, mode of convenience), restaurant delivery range (average may be 4 km in one city as opposed to 2 km in another), choice of delivery vehicle (motorbike in one city but cycle in another) and computer penetration at restaurants in a city. These and many other inputs are gathered before we enter a city and they help in formulating the initial strategy and keep guiding the tactics to implement these.

Coming to your query about difference in messaging, our positioning – as an anti-cooking, activist brand which is not shy to make irreverent attacks on cooking through our brand ambassador Mr. Basamati – has universal appeal. The challenges are not in terms of the localization of the messaging, but rather in trying to figure out which marketing media work in different cities.

Similarly, you cater to small as well as established and high-end restaurants. Were there any messaging or positioning challenges here?

As an aggregator of food deliveries, we are a B2B and B2C company – or what is generally called as B2B2C company. So, we see our business in general, and marketing in particular, divided in consumer and restaurant segments. We realize that we are in a platform business in which getting the right set of restaurants is as critical as getting hungry foodies to use JustEat to order from these restaurants.

Now, reaching out to the restaurant with a tailored messaging and proposition is important to increase the ratio of conversions to leads while trying to get a restaurant on board. We train our sales team so that while convincing the restaurants, sales reps talk to them in their language. A high-end restaurateur may be more familiar with the basics and importance of internet-marketing than small restaurants. This makes our job slightly easier. On the other hand, in a high-end restaurant the number of decision-makers may be many more (influencers in management, finance, marketing), which makes it a little more tricky than in small restaurants. But, once a restaurant comes on board, we don’t differentiate in the level of support we provide them based on the size of their businesses.

Do you have any specific programs or offers that ensure your customers keep returning – and perhaps even recommend you to their friends?

We have a very successful loyalty program, in which customers earn points for ordering through JustEat. These points can be redeemed for various gifts in categories like movie dvd, books, pen drives, belts, wallet etc. Apart from that, we keep running offers for our users and informing them through our newsletters.

Tell us about your web and social media strategy. What channels or tools do you use most actively, and what has worked for you in building your brand and engaging more customers online?

We work on bringing traffic or engaging customers through the five web channels organic search, paid search, direct, email marketing and referral/affiliate, apart from social media. The tools for each of them are different. We work on the following:

• Organic search – Content marketing and link building as part of search engine optimization (SEO)
• Paid search – Keyword mining and bid optimization
• Direct – Working to improve the online and offline mentions of JustEat and trying to give a “wow” experience to increase the repeat orders
• Referral/Affiliate – Building relationship with other portals or affiliates
• Email marketing – We don’t believe in spamming your inbox to get that one more new customer. This channel is used to keep the talk going on between our returning customers (informing them of our offers or our JustEat app). So, this is customer retention channel, not an acquisition channel.
• Social media – We are active on Facebook, Twitter and Google Plus, and we keep running cool contests, trying to put a smile on your face though a funny post or have you drooling at that yummy picture of a scrumptious pizza from Pizza Hut.

Are you thinking of expanding to tier-II towns? Would your messaging have to change much in that case?

Expanding to tier-II towns is not part of our road map right now. We are focused on the cities we are present in. We don’t want to spread ourselves thin by rapidly going to new cities without consolidating and growing the existing ones. Whenever we decide to enter a tier-II town, we can intuit that, fundamentally, the messaging has to change from “online ordering is fast and convenient” to “it is possible to order online, even food delivery”. So, messaging has to regress from benefit-selling in metros to awareness or trial in tier-II messages.

Finally, can you tell us about any branding exercise that you attempted but didn’t work?

In 2011, we wanted to capture the attention of the corporate crowd for which we executed a month-long plan in some select corporate parks, using benefit-based messages, without any immediate gratification discount codes in hoardings. The campaign didn’t lead to expected results.

Our brainstorming later made us realize that ordering food on phone is an entrenched habit and when we tell people that you can order food online on JustEat, it requires a very different messaging than if someone is already sold out on the idea that he needs a certain product category. If the product category (say, toothpaste) has been there in consumer-usage pattern for long, branding focuses on improving the preference for a brand. But, for a new category which relies on breaking the user’s habits (ordering food on phone), we need to give them a reason to try us. Discounts are one of the easiest ways to increase trials.

In 2012, we did an almost similar campaign but apart from the benefits mentioned, there was a discount coupon code to induce immediate trial, and we got better results.