"We are the market leader; the numbers speak for it": Swiggy's marketing boss on competition with Zomato

By Sankalp Dikshit , afaqs!, New Delhi | In Advertising | January 15, 2018
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The brand makes its debut on television with seven TVCs crafted by Lowe Lintas.

A decade ago, the concept of food delivery would only bring to mind the likes of Domino's Pizza or a local Chinese joint. Cut to 2018, with the proliferation of the Zomatos and Swiggys of today, the food delivery business is no longer an extended arm of restaurant chains; in fact, it is now a promising multi-million dollar business that has its own market segment to reckon with. With corporations incessantly pumping in the money - Ola acquiring Foodpanda's India business ($200 million), Naspers' investing in Swiggy ($150-200 million), Zomato and Alibaba's Ant Financial's yet-to-be finalised deal ($100-200 million), Uber launching UberEATS - the Indian food delivery business has been buzzing wildly the past year.

And just like any other industry, with its growing turnover, it has led marketers to turn to mainline advertising to reach wider audiences. One such recent example is 'Swiggy' that has launched its first integrated advertising campaign which has seven TVCs to its credit. We caught up with this Bengaluru based company's vice president of marketing, Srivats TS, to understand why, after three years of operation, has Swiggy decided to fit television into its media pie.

He says, "We are at that stage of a brand's journey where millions of users are now transacting on our platform and we thought that this was the right time to create further brand awareness since we could reach a lot more consumers through television." The company claims that in the last year it has witnessed four-times the growth in order volume and six-times the growth in revenue. The TVCs have been crafted and conceptualised by Lowe Lintas, Bengaluru.

The brand, though new to television, has been active on the advertising front. "We have leveraged print, digital, radio, and outdoor in a robust way in the past. In particular, digital has been a channel that has worked very well for us. Also, since we are a hyper-local business, it obviously makes sense to tailor our marketing messages to cities or areas that we are targeting and for this purpose, an outdoor campaign has given us significant growth in terms of new users and transactions," he adds.

The overall split of advertising spends for Swiggy, over the last few months, has been - 50% on ATL including outdoor, print, radio, and 30% on digital. For the current campaign, three-fourths of the assigned budget has been allocated to television while the remaining is reserved for digital. Within television, the spends are distributed across mass GECs, cricket and niche channels.

Speaking about the consumer insight that the ads have tapped into, Srivats says, "There are a lot of occasions where it makes sense to order in from restaurants that one is familiar with and then Swiggy comes to mind. What we brought to life in the campaign is that Swiggy can be part of your life not only for some but for all occasions." Through this campaign, Swiggy aims to strengthen its original target audience i.e. the 18 to 35 demographic.

Prior to joining Swiggy, a year and a half ago, Srivats was associated with another digital-based company - 'Quikr' - which is active on the TVC front. So, was moving to television a pre-planned strategy for Swiggy or did Srivats joining the company have a role to play? He explains, "Since this space is so new and there is so much to discover, we are very flexible in terms of selecting the channel. We look at our matrix very hard to find what's working." He also shares that being where consumers are and leveraging digital channels for an internet-first company, was part of his Quikr learning that came in handy at Swiggy.

The food delivery market is a new one and the brands currently operating in this segment have an added responsibility of not only building their respective brands but also to build the category. "Yes, I think that is an absolutely fair analysis of where we are. Again, we are at that stage of our brand journey where we want consumers to try Swiggy for the first time; to make them see how convenient, easy and flexible it is," says Srivats. He also tells us that the brand has a strong presence in markets like Bangalore, Mumbai and New Delhi while newer markets like Ahmedabad and Chandigarh, are places from where the brand needs more love.

While Swiggy came to the online food ordering genre before its competition, Zomato has been present in the restaurant listing market since 2008. By that logic, does Swiggy consider itself a 'challenger brand'? Srivats exclaims, "I don't think we are treating any competitor as guided competition. We don't benchmark or compare ourselves to any particular brand. I think it's fair to say that we are the market leader; the numbers speak for it. With close to four million orders a month in July 2017 and a strong month-on-month growth, Swiggy continues to establish itself as India's largest platform for food ordering and delivery."

Srivats TS Srivats TS

Speaking about the competition on the advertising front, Srivats admits that he tracks the media mix of rival firms. "We track all of the marketing best-practices that go on. We also make sure that we are on top of all the marketing efforts that are being done by brands not just of our industry but that of other industries as well." Recently, Zomato was in news for its 'MC-BC' outdoor campaign that generated curiosity (and controversy). "We don't want to comment on what they are doing," is how Srivats responds whenever the name 'Zomato' enters the discussion.

Concluding the discussion we asked Srivats about his current pain-points with regard to Swiggy. "We know that the journey of keeping every user satisfied can't be perfectly mastered since there will be a certain number of users who didn't have a perfect experience. We wake up every day paranoid about making sure that we give our consumers the best possible experience," Srivats signs off.

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