In conversation with Mohit Ahuja, VP Marketing, foodpanda
Can you elaborate on your journey to where you are today? Can you also brief us about your role in your current organization?
Believe it or not, I started off as an intern in foodpanda and in just two years I am the Director & Vice President, Marketing! Setting up the various marketing channels, defining the communication seen by millions, building the business and scaling it up like crazy – this breadth of experience is possible only in a startup and I was lucky to be in the right place at the right time.
I was a typical techie before the marketing bug bit me at MDI Gurgaon & RSM Erasmus University.
What would you say is the most important factor of running an online food ordering platform in today’s highly competitive world?
Our business is built on repeat purchases and so it becomes critical to ensure stickiness while reaching out to the ideal consumers in the most cost effective manner. Unlike traditional eCommerce where 1-day delivery is considered the gold standard in customer delight, foodpanda has to ensure delivery in 20 to 60 minutes. Working with restaurants which have varying efficiencies and sophistication in their customer service, while ensuring a seamless experience for our customers, is a huge challenge and this is where managing expectations as a marketplace becomes important. We’re also looking at innovative ways of helping restaurants with order processing and delivery.
What ways do you use omni-channeling within your strategy to attract a customer to order food using foodpanda?
Online food ordering is a new phenomenon which became possible with the advances in technology. We’re trying to affect a change in habit and in effect, literally creating the market for this category. Our approach has been to first engage with the highly active internet users on digital platforms, and then using ATL communication to lend credibility to the proven concept and reaching out to more people. Currently we’re focused on raising awareness and incentivizing trials through multiple mediums, with television and digital leading the way.
How important is social media marketing for an online food ordering platform like yours?
Social media is definitely important. This is where perceptions are formed and where our ideal customers are. What is quite cool is that, unlike other mediums, there’s a two-way communication happening here and that too in a visible manner. It’s an opportunity to connect, to spread the word as well as motivation to do better.
What do you feel the strongest digital platform used at foodpanda is? And why?
Everyone’s saying this these days and it is true – mobile is the future. Our growth is driven by mobile and we see an increasing chunk of users migrating to the platform. For a location specific service like ours, smartphones offer the perfect home for the on-demand service. No matter where you are, foodpanda and hence good food is one tap away and that’s an amazing convenience.
Name a well marketed product in any industry that caught your attention and why?
I really liked the #Mauka campaign for the Cricket World Cup. It evolved with the tournament so it was always fresh and there was a huge buzz around it. It was catchy and was successful in involving even disinterested people like me in the tournament. But generally speaking, I believe a truly fantastic product does not need extensive marketing at all and that should be the standard to strive for.
What are the key differentiators that set you apart from your competitors?
foodpanda is perhaps one of the simplest apps to understand and navigate. We don’t want you to spend much time on the app at all. Just get in, order food and you’re out. Apart from this, we have scale (40 countries 1 app), an increasingly recognized & loved brand, a talented team, ever improving customer service and great partnerships with all the top restaurant brands.