Interview: 3 must-ask questions for HappyFresh when taking creative risks

With social distancing measures and lockdowns in place, digital has become the go-to channel for brands. According to Magna, digital ad revenue is expected to grow by 19.7% this year to reach SG$867 million, representing 39% of the total ad market. With the plethora of ads online, brands will have to go the extra mile to impress and engage consumers. David Lim, HappyFresh's SEA VP, marketing and MD of Thailand told MARKETING-INTERACTIVE that three questions are often asked when creating content.

1. Is this relatable to our target audience?
2. Is this bold and brave?
3. If it's me, will I skip or watch it?

According to him, the marketing teams are trained to answer these three questions whenever they discuss the content to be rolled out. "The Internet audience has a lot more options and power when it comes to ads consumption now, media placement, programmatic buying and other adtech solutions can only be part of the equation," he explained. Hence, creative and engaging content remains a key to ensuring money spent in production is "not blindsided" when it appears on any media channel, Lim (pictured below) said.

david lim happyfresh

With Southeast Asia being a fragmented market, he said it boils down to how much each local marketing team knows about their respective market. The more knowledgeable they are about their market, the more localised the campaigns and content will be. According to him, nuances in each country's culture, media consumption patterns and even talents selection, can make or break a campaign.

"The way a tudung is tied in Malaysia is different from how a hijab is tied in Indonesia. Even the terms used are different too. If they are assumed to be the same, the content will not be relatable with audiences in one of the two countries," he explained.

To fulfill its hyperlocal marketing ambitions, HappyFresh currently works with C27, Small People Production and Salmon House for creative duties in Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand, respectively. Lim told MARKETING-INTERACTIVE previously that localisation is key especially when selling a service so personal. It has since launched two videos for its campaign in Thailand and the creatives for Malaysia and Indonesia are currently in the works.

"It has been extremely challenging to carry out shoots across all countries due to the pandemic, and animation has been a style that is overused by many brands in the past 18 months. There is also a lack of face-to-face brainstorming sessions which our teams and the agency teams are very used to," he explained. According to him, messages and angles also have to be altered very quickly depending on the situation and the government announcements in each country.

The pandemic has not only pushed HappyFresh to be even more creative but also tweak its media mix. Lockdowns have led to lesser commuter traffic and as such, HappyFresh shifted a large amount of its offline media budget to online media channels in the past 12 months. Facebook continues to be a top digital channel for HappyFresh in Thailand while Instagram is a stronger channel in Indonesia. While TikTok has been considered by many marketers in recent years, it might not be suitable for all target audiences in all verticals, Lim added.

Meanwhile, the remaining offline marketing budget is now concentrated on a few key offline channels that still make sense in respective cities, Lim said. With more consumers working from home, for example, it made more sense for TVCs to be rolled out in Malaysia where TV consumption is still high.

The same goes for certain cities in Indonesia where radio ads are still a prominent media channel for consumers. Another offline channel that has proven effective for HappyFresh during the lockdown in Thailand are elevator ads. At the same time, it has also cut back on OOH spending on trains in Thailand as there is no commuter traffic during the lockdown.

"Our local marketing teams have adjusted a small part of their digital spend towards these targeted media channels based on the change in user behaviour," he explained.

Aside from marketing, Lim has also taken an interest in the Internet of Things which has become a buzzword in recent years. Specifically, he is interested to find out how advertising can tap on IoT and be integrated into consumers' daily lives more so than ever. "Imagine your fridge sending you a push notification saying milk or eggs were already added to your cart in your HappyFresh application because they are already running low! These are ideas that keep me up at night," he said. 

At the same time, Lim also believes that 2022 will be "a year of comebacks" for a few industries and media owners. Travel and hospitality will be industries that need to be ready to educate their target audience on how they can ensure safe travel and accommodation in a post-COVID era. Meanwhile, last-mile fulfilment and delivery service providers such as HappyFresh will have to focus on how users should continue to use their services to save time on grocery shopping and focus on the activities they miss doing, Lim explained.

"OOH will also return to business for B2C marketing teams. Lastly, MICE marketing will need to pivot back to how it was done before the days of never-ending Zoom or Google hangout calls, virtual breakout rooms and chat rooms," he added.

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