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Building emotional connections: how foodpanda fosters brand love with brand ambassador Pau-Pau

Building emotional connections: how foodpanda fosters brand love with brand ambassador Pau-Pau

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This post is sponsored by foodpanda Singapore.

In today’s fast-paced and highly competitive market, understanding consumer motivations, and knowing how to influence those motivations, will become even more crucial for brands. While customers used to be mostly deal-driven, and motivated by pricing and discounts, this is no longer the case for shoppers, especially the younger ones. 

Millennials and Gen Zs now prefer to purchase from brands they trust and whose values resonate with them. Around 96% of Gen Z respondents in Singapore surveyed by DeVries Global in 2021 “are willing to pay a premium for brands they deem transparent”.

Similarly, according to a 2022 survey by YouGov, almost three in four Singaporean consumers aged 18-29 will stick to brands they like. 

It is clear that younger Millennial and Gen Z consumers prefer to support brands that they relate to, and that they find transparent. Thus, this shift in consumer preferences makes it crucial for brands to be able to authentically relate and engage with consumers. 

Brand love is a powerful driver for business success, creating future demand and generating long term and sustainable growth. Customers who are emotionally connected to a brand are indeed less likely to switch to competitors.

This can be achieved by balancing tactical-driven campaigns with emotional-driven campaigns, specifically those that are able to showcase the values the brand stands for in an authentic manner. 

And that was the challenge foodpanda set itself two years ago. It needed to differentiate itself from its competitors, and find a way to authentically communicate what it stood for. And that was how Pau-Pau came to be.

It’s been one year since we unveiled our brand ambassador Pau-Pau, a cheeky, fun-loving and vibrant personality who has since become a well-loved friend to fans all over the region, including Singapore.

Pau-Pau brings to life the values that foodpanda espouses, and through him, we are able to expand the ways that we connect and engage with our consumers, especially younger users of the app. 

Levelling up the fun in consumers’ engagement with foodpanda

Pau-Pau has revolutionised the way that we partner with like-minded brands. Having him onboard has enabled us to interact with our customers in fun and unexpected ways: through collaborations with Tinder and Coffee Meets Bagel, his own bespoke food flavours with the ice cream cookie & co, CRUST and Famous Amos, and he even took over Flash Coffee stores.

Pau-Pau also gave us more creative ways of engaging with our customers. For example, in June 2022 when offline events resumed, foodpanda came onboard as a main sponsor for music and food festival GastroBeats, featuring a branded zone with an optical illusion area, photo booth, and games to win Pau-Pau merchandise.

This proved to be a resounding success, as it was the most visited zone with more than 450,000 footfalls, and thousands of organic user-generated content on Instagram. 

foodpanda gastrobeats 2022The foodpanda branded zone at GastroBeats in 2022.

Many marketers would attest to this: overt sales content does not perform as well as content that is more emotive. We see the difference in performance particularly on the newer content formats and social media channels such as TikTok and Instagram Reels.

In this regard, having Pau-Pau allows us to create non-tactical content, including relatable memes and content that rode on online chatter and trends. This way, our promotions and discounts can still be seamlessly included in a manner that is non-overt so we can still appeal to the preferences of our consumers while letting them know of our promotions. 

Such content has performed well, and since Pau-Pau’s introduction in January 2022, the average engagement rate on our social media channels increased by 5% in the subsequent months and continues to consistently grow to date, with all our social media channels also experiencing steady organic growth month on month.

foodpanda memesPau-Pau corporate-life memes.

In recent years, interest in gamified shopping experiences has increased significantly. Knowing that consumers want to be incentivised to shop in interactive and fun ways, we ran a campaign where customers could win an exclusive Pau-Pau plushie by placing foodpanda orders to complete a stamp card on the platform. The demand for Pau-Pau was extraordinary – within the first few days of the campaign launch, all 500 Pau-Pau plushies were redeemed.   

It is clear the shift in direction to meet changing consumer needs was necessary, but such campaigns would not have been as successful without Pau-Pau as a differentiating factor from our competitors. 

Placing customers at the heart of marketing campaigns

Now that consumers are familiar with Pau-Pau, we want to take things one step further and have Pau-Pau inspire people to experience life to its fullest and live like a panda. Just like how pandas do, we want to encourage people to free up their time and energy to pursue what really matters to them. 

foodpanda llap busBuses with 3D installations of Pau-Pau roamed around Singapore as part of the campaign. 

We created a new self-care TikTok series, where the content is not about the platform and its services, but simply shares comforting messages such as trusting the process and timing of things in life.

The best performing video in this series generated 1.2 million views and 300 comments, all of them with a positive sentiment. Viewers feel connected as they relate to the video, and mention in the comments that this makes them use foodpanda as they feel that foodpanda understands them.

This was also the first time we got our customers involved through a real-time out-of-home user-generated campaign by inviting them to share how they live their life to the fullest by uploading photos on Instagram with the hashtag #LikeAPandaSG.

The publicly posted and hashtagged photos appeared live on 40 screens all over Singapore, and were on display for seven weeks. 

foodpanda ooh 2023Real-time out-of-home user-generated content.

While it can be daunting for brands to try new formats, brands that are not sensitive to the latest trends will find themselves falling out of step very quickly, especially in highly competitive industries.

In taking the time and effort to understand consumer behaviour, brands will be better equipped to roll out engaging content for their customers, and in turn, strengthen the emotional connection with them.

In addition, finding and incorporating that differentiating factor to stand out among the competition seems to be the likely recipe for long-term success, and we are glad to have found that in Pau-Pau and his philosophy.

The writer is Annalisa Andrulli, marketing director, foodpanda Singapore.

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