Saurabh Nath, Head of Brand Marketing, Swiggy, spoke to us about the brand’s objective of going beyond just being a food-delivery app, and placing itself seamlessly in audiences' lives.
Nath also spoke about pushing the envelope with Swiggy’s ‘Plate Date’ - a YouTube property - rooted in an insight that food connects people.
Your thoughts on the ‘The Plate Date,’ and what does the brand hope to accomplish from the campaign? How do you plan to reach out or establish a connection with the younger generation through this latest campaign series launch?
With the ‘The Plate Date,’ one key thing that we wanted to land is how we can talk to Gen Zs and millennials. It’s increasingly becoming important to talk to this TG, as one has to talk to them in a very different language. Therefore, the next step was trying to understand, what they are passionate about. And therefore friendships and dating became a very important part of it.
Furthermore, we realized that over a period of time, Swiggy is more than just a food delivery platform, and it's touching lives in many different ways. So we combined these two thought streams together, and created content around that. Obviously, the project had to be created in a setup where there’s a category connect. That is how we came up with Swiggy’s ‘Plate Date’ - a YouTube property where one’s food order history and preferences are the new-age filter to finding one’s ideal match.
Can you elaborate on some of the key consumer trends that are forming your growth and marketing strategies?
Covid obviously had a huge impact on people’s food habits. Food ordering further got boosted with eating out getting restricted, and this was a key phase. After a temporary lull in ordering thereafter, now what's happening is people are ordering at 2 to 3 X times of pre-Covid levels, that's one key movement. The second movement that happened during this phase, is people are very cognizant of what they eat. So, there is mostly a rise in categories which are specifically niche like healthy, or vegan food. Thirdly, there’s obviously a lot of traction that has happened with certain cuisines or certain dishes that have taken off. So, whether its Mexican cuisine or Japanese or Korean for example, you wouldn't have seen a lot of these restaurants two years back. But now even if you are in a tier 2 city for instance, you'll see experimental cuisines actually coming up. Fourthly, Gen Z’s interest and understanding of food. For this consumer, food ordering is a very social occasion. And therefore, food that is a common denominator in terms of everybody's liking, and that is easy on the pocket - because you don't want to spend a lot of money when you're a Gen Z- this was another important trend that’s shaping up the segment.
Recently, Swiggy had the whole nation questioning – ‘Why Is This A Swiggy Ad?’ Can you share some insights on the recently concluded campaign, along with what kind of a customer engagement and numbers you got through that?
Yes, the campaign did fantastically and much better than we expected it to do. One Gulab Jamun Uncle in an astronaut outfit reached and confused 30M+ people across the internet! If I had to share numbers then as per our data, the engagement numbers of ‘Why is this a Swiggy Ad’ showed 5,000+ comments on our IG post, and 1,500+ theories on our Twitter post (1K+ replies, 500+RTs). It generated over 50,000+ theories flooding the internet across channels, including two YT Live streams where 7,00,000+ unique viewers tuned in to figure out #WITASA together. Incredibly, ‘Why is this a swiggy ad?’ showed up in the top 5 Google search suggestions for ‘why,’ right below ‘why is the sky blue’ and above ‘why is Diwali celebrated?’ The answer to 'Why is this a Swiggy ad' was simple: because it made you think of the brand for so long.
The F&B sector has witnessed some significant highs and lows all through the pandemic and in the aftermath of it due to various factors. With several direct-to-restaurant order or platforms in recent times, what are the red flags that you see?
Honestly, there are red flags and issues with restaurant and hotel partners, in terms of commission and so on. I don't think there's any running away from it. But at the same time, you have to understand how the category is growing. Dark kitchens in this country have boomed in the last five years. They didn't exist as a business before, and now these cloud kitchens are the biggest innovation that has happened across categories, across domains. The food delivery apps had a very big role to play here. Because how did you get to know that these kitchens even exist? So Swiggy and Zomato help you to create that kind of awareness. There’s a lot of category expansion, and category innovation happening, largely because we have food-ordering apps like Swiggy and Zomato around. So, while we need restaurant partners, a lot of restaurant partners are equally excited to be on board because it helps grow their business with saliency, making their brand much bigger.
What would you say are the other areas of focus for Swiggy, and the roadmap ahead for the brand in 2023?
Regional marketing will be our focus, because what we're realizing is that no two cities are the same. For instance, on paper, Patna might have the same population as Ahmedabad, but they are two completely different cities, and what might work in Ahmedabad or Guntur might not work in Patna at all. So, how to create category penetration in different cities- that's what we're ultimately concentrating on. One big key part of our focus is going to be regional campaigns, picking out and focusing on entire cities and consumers in those cities.
From a marketing standpoint or from a social media standpoint, whatever we are doing, we'll continue to do that. So, the overall focus is to build engagement with the consumer through the content that we can generate, and also specifically talk to Gen Z. We are also engaging with regional influencers or local influencers.
The third focus area is to improve the experience- the on-board experience, because ultimately we are an experience company, a brand that delivers experiences.