Namah Chawla

Can Rapido's celeb push put 'bike taxi apps' on the map?

Two-wheeler taxi apps like Rapido, UberMoto, Ola Bikes are trying to create a segment of their own. A chat with Rapido's marketing head Amit Verma on the battle for the 'public transport market'.

Travellers, especially in big cities like Delhi, Mumbai and Bengaluru, have to deal with traffic jams every now and then. And on top of this, travelling by the overcrowded public transport, like buses or local trains adds to the hustle.

Bengaluru-based bike taxi app Rapido recently rolled out its first celebrity-led campaign addressing these two pain points. The two ad films feature actors Ranveer Singh and Allu Arjun, and highlight how Rapido facilitates seamless travel during peak traffic hours to its users.

In the ads, Singh is Babban and Arjun is Guru. Both are smart and clever personalities. Their unique and interesting characters guide the daily commuters, who're fed up with the hassles of travelling via buses and autos, to opt for a smart option like Rapido.

Rapido was co-founded by Aravind Sanka, Pavan Guntupalli and Rishikesh SR in 2015. It is currently operational in over 100 Indian cities, with over 15 lakh registered 'captains'.

Amit Verma, head of marketing, Rapido, tells afaqs! that despite being the biggest country, as far as two-wheeler penetration is concerned, the awareness about bike taxis as a category, is pretty low in India.

“Even after putting all the players such as UberMoto, Ola Bike, Rapido and the likes together, we’re unable to capture a significant proportion of the TG. Our campaign aims to raise awareness about bike taxis being available as an option that the travellers can use for their personal and professional commute.”

"Even after putting all the players such as UberMoto, Ola Bike, Rapido and the likes together, we’re unable to capture a significant proportion of the TG."
Amit Verma, Rapido
Amit Verma, Rapido

The brand’s team informs that the strategic objective behind the campaign is to portray Rapido as a customer-centric brand and educate people about its key offerings and USPs. Singh and Arjun provide the required mass appeal, and the right direction to the campaign.

Conceptualised by Enormous Brands, co-directed by Sizil Srivastava and Trivikram Srinivas, and produced by Dreams Vault Media, the campaign will use TV, outdoor, digital and radio as a part of its media mix.

The brand is also advertising during the ongoing ICC Men’s T20 World Cup. Rapido’s ads will also be present on OTT platforms like ZEE5 and MX Player. They will be seen during a few upcoming movies in theatres as well.

Highlighting the campaign’s precise target audience, Verma says, “Rapido is communicating to people who are looking for a smart travel option, are young - between the ages of 18 and 34 years, and want to save money.”

In the metro cities, the app targets professionals who’ve just started working, as well as newly married couples and people with small families.

The campaign focuses on 14 cities, including metros like Delhi, Chennai, Hyderabad, Mumbai and Kolkata, and Tier-II cities like Lucknow, Jaipur, Chandigarh, Coimbatore, Visakhapatnam, Patna, to name a few. Verma shares, “75 per cent of Rapido’s revenues come from these cities.”

The COVID pandemic led to social distancing norms, and there were safety measures that the bike taxi app had to address.

Verma asserts, “Every Rapido captain is advised to sanitise regularly. There is a shield between the captain and the rider to ensure safety. The rider is also provided with a helmet. Our captains used to follow all road safety protocols even before COVID hit. They had a valid driving license and were well trained so that they could deliver a smooth ride to the users.”

With most organisations transitioning to work from home during the first and second COVID waves, Rapido’s business came to a halt, like many others.

Verma says, “In March 2020, we were doing around four lakh rides daily, but because of the pandemic, our business did have its share of ups and downs. During the first and second wave, our business did drop to zero. From June 2021 onwards, things have revived, in terms of traffic. The number of rides has managed to recover to about 85 per cent.”

Rapido’s switch to quick commerce and the hyperlocal delivery sector helped in its revenue recovery during the pandemic.

Now, when most people gradually are going back to offices, especially in cities like Bengaluru, Delhi and Mumbai, Rapido aims to get back to the pre-pandemic number of rides in the next 2-3 months.

Rapido faces competition from not just UberMoto, Gurugram-based Baxi, Ola Bike and Jugnoo Bike, but also other modes of public transport, like autos and buses.

Sharing his perspective on the competition, Verma opines, “The price point at which Rapido provides a ride, is highly competitive, when compared to any other mode of public transport, like autos or buses.”

Another benefit for the Rapido users is that the commute time is reduced drastically. “The time saved is about 25-30 per cent, especially in metros, when people choose to commute via a bike taxi. Also, if a user is travelling solo, it makes a lot more sense to choose a bike taxi than an auto,” shares Verma.

The biggest challenge for the bike taxi segment in India, is to bring the users back to the platform. “We have to figure out why the users will choose us over any other platform. Since it’s a service-based platform, we also want to ensure that we provide our riders with the best possible experience,” mentions Verma.

Retaining the existing users, in addition to attracting new ones and ensuring that the old users don’t become inactive or dormant, has been Rapido’s main priorities.

“For the next one year, Rapido will be focusing its energy on creating awareness about the brand as well as the bike taxi category. We want every second person to be aware of the brand. They should understand what a bike taxi is, in terms of its offerings and benefits,” Verma signs off.

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