How to communicate with consumers? Just Eat CEO Susan O’Brien says marketers need to communicate with consumers every day and constantly remind themselves that they are not customers.
The Just Eat CEO emphasizes the need for marketers to take a step back and detach themselves from the brand to really understand what consumers want.
“This is basic marketing school: remember that you are not the customer, and therefore your opinion is somewhat subjective,” Susan O’Brien said, speaking at the Festival of Marketing: Fast Forward yesterday (June 9).
To that end, Just Eat conducts what it calls “customer proximity programs” in its major markets, such as the United Kingdom, Germany and France, to test that everything it does will catch on with consumers.
“The best way to do that is to listen to customers, to hear what they are saying and what they want, because we are not customers,” she said.
For O’Brien, that means breaking “out of the London bubble” and allowing the organization to communicate with customers every day.
“Wherever we are, we talk to them [customers] about what they think of us, what they think of the competition, what they like to eat, how they prefer to order, who they are, what their favorite foods are, what’s missing from the platform. And we take a lot of that information and turn it into relevant insight.”
There’s a natural fit between long-term brand investment and short-term sales and performance. It’s not one or the other.
But because so much data is generated, she added, the organization has to be “very careful not to become blind to it.”
“We have to be able to separate the important from the less important so that it affects what we do and where we go.”
Awareness of Importance
When it comes to what to focus on next and what innovations, O’Brien says the most important thing is to “be where the customers are,” which is why, for example, the company is sponsoring the postponed Euro 2020 tournament.
“You’ll see [through our] sponsorships how important it is for us to be where our customers are so that we can be considered relevant to them at this point in time,” she said.
That’s one way Just Eat keeps itself relevant in a fiercely competitive market, and that’s why consumer awareness is a metric she tracks on a daily basis.
“We definitely haven’t slowed down; we continue to invest in both brand and performance and other areas. But increasing awareness comes from creating and investing in building distinctive assets,” she said.
O’Brien noted the Just Eat global campaign featuring rap artist Snoop Dogg as “very successful” in helping the company achieve that goal.
In addition to success in terms of paid media, she said the campaign created content that became “part of a lifestyle that people want to actively share,” which she called “the holy grail of marketing.”
“It was definitely a bit of luck and great strategy and creativity. But now I think creativity is everything to me. It’s so important to create content that connects emotionally with clients,” she said.
“While I can live and breathe Just Eat 24/7, we have to be mindful of our relevance and being in people’s lives at some point in time. So I think it’s about connection, relevance and getting people talking about you.”
Although Snoop Dogg’s campaign and accompanying content has helped the brand stay focused on consumers, O’Brien said it’s “an ongoing challenge.”
“We’ve maintained absolute energy and drive to win by making sure we haven’t cut back on our marketing investment. In fact, if anything, we’ve moved forward.”
“There’s a natural mix between long-term brand investment and short-term sales and performance. It’s not one or the other, certainly not in our business, it’s definitely both working together to bring all those clumps into the funnel when you’re trying to get a customer to order from you.”
Like many other brands, Just Eat temporarily suspended marketing last year between March and May 2020. Out-of-home advertising became less relevant during the lockdown, and activity in support of the Euro 2020 sponsorship was suspended when the tournament was postponed.
The company then made up for lost time by stepping up both impact and brand marketing in the second half of the year, increasing investment by 158% to €369 million (£318 million) for all of 2020.
In order to stay ahead of the curve, Just Eat plans its operations using the OGSM system, which is based on objectives, goals, strategies and measures, O’Brien said.
“We do this as a marketing community, and our marketing community is very large. It covers everything: brand, in-country marketing, affiliate marketing, sponsorship, efficiency, and retention. But we agree at the top what our goals are for the year and what success looks like,” she explained.
“Then each of those pillars to achieve those functions develops their own goals, strategies and tactics that we test. That allows us to say, ‘OK, we’re going to do this, but we’re not going to do that.'”
The system allows Just Eat to be laser-focused on what needs to be done.
“And when something gets out of control, which inevitably happens in every category, we can respond to it because we have a very clear plan,” O’Brien added.