Bluebird's journey from 'gut feel' marketing to a data-led one


Deemed as a conservative player in the market, as one of the biggest Indonesian transportation brands Bluebird has had to push the boundaries of digital transformation to reach new audiences in the recent times. While popular with baby boomers and GenX-ers, the quintessential Indonesian brand knows that to ensure growth, and remain sustainable for the future, it needs to connect with the younger segment such as Millennials and Gen Zs.

During a recent Salesforce Live Asia conference, speaking about the evolving customer preference, Paul Soegianto chief strategy officer of Bluebird, said the new generation of customers interact very differently from previous generation, and as such the brand has to evolve into more real time strategies for interaction. “The new generation doesn’t want to wait for interaction, they want everything real time […] It is always about now, now, now,” said Soegianto. This has propelled Bluebird to become a brand that executes in the present. Using Salesforce’s social studio and advertising studio, Bluebird has now actively been actively trying to get to know its consumer base better by digesting the data it has gathered about its consumers' behavioural patterns. While this has led toan increase in Millennials now interacting with the brand, Soegianto says its “just a start” and more needs to be done.

With digital disruptors all around, Soegianto added that Bluebird has been forced to adopt new technology and move away from marketing through just the method of “gut feel”. Moreover earlier this year, Indonesian ride-hailing and tech-led company Gojek also acquired a minority stake in Indonesian taxi operator Blue Bird for US$30 million, according to Bloomberg. While both parties have had an ongoing partnership since 2016 and Gojek first tied up with Blue Bird in May 2016, the move definitely further "solidified their market leadership".

The companies then launched a Go-BlueBird feature on the Gojek app in March 2017, allowing customers to book Blue Bird taxis. Fast forward to today, with multiple channels call centres to taxi stops, super apps, street hailing, chat platform, Bluebird has a range of touchpoints to interact with customers. As such, it has had to unify the data to truly understand customer behavior and interaction with services, and their needs.

Previously we had absolutely no data, everything was done though gut feel and without feedback.

"We didn’t know about interaction and feedback. Previously, for example, when we created an advertisement for a magazine, radio or TV, and we didn’t [have] any feedback. But times are changing,” he said.  Since embracing new digital technology, the team saw quadruple interaction through direct interactions. But the journey wasn’t without hurdles, and the company faced challenges on three fronts:

-Talent and people with capabilities.
-Coping with digital to understand customer.
-Rethinking processes and embracing the right mindset

“Supported by social and advertising studio, we are trying to broaden our understanding of our customer so we know when to engage, how to engage and where to engage with them,” he added.

Hygiene factor is crucial

A big point of differentiation for the brand has always been in its hygiene, safety, reliability and health factors. Started by a housewife and her two children who were doctors, the brand prides itself on these brand pillars. “This is our asset. Our cars belong to us and our drivers trained by us. We want to ensure our customers understand that everything about Bluebird is managed with the highest standard. Hygiene is the new currency in this new world,” he said.

During the early days of the pandemic, like any other transportation service, Bluebird also had to pivot and shift gears. In April, it introduced the BirdKirim program, which is a logistics delivery service and an extension of the Bluebird COD (Chat-Order-Delivery) program. The BirdKirim programme offered consumers an avenue to fulfill logistics delivery services through the MyBluebird application.

Commenting on the new initiative, Soegianto said the company saw COVID-19 as an opportunity for the brand to evolve. “During this time, we had a tremendous growth in logistics. In just 3 months we covered 2-3% of the revenue and it was big jump in the business,” he said, adding that this was solely possible because of the trust hygiene factor the brand nurtured over the past 50 years. “People trust the business and know that any product that needs to be delivered will be delivered with the highest quality of hygiene through blue bird,” he added.H