Q] What was the thought behind Urban Company’s #WearASmile campaign?
The idea was very simple, it was just to add a simple design and a smile to a face mask that service professionals wear, to make it a little more human and serve as a reminder of the fact that there is a person behind this mask. We created such masks with smiles printed on them and distributed them to service professionals all across India, to wear through the month of December. The second thing that we did was to make a film, which sought to drive awareness about this initiative. While we’ve heard stories through the pandemic from around the world that have reaffirmed our faith in the indomitable human spirit, with this small change in the masks we hope to make the mask in itself a little more human and make people smile.
Q] What was the media mix for the campaign and what was the budget allocated for this initiative?
Part of it was through traditional digital distribution channels like Facebook as well as YouTube. But about 60% of our budgets were stacked on amplification and conversation around such an idea, given that our budgets were modest, through influencers, friends of the brand, as well as dark social groups.
Q] What impact did the pandemic and the initial phase of lockdown have on your business as movement was restricted?
March onwards, it has been tough for us. When the government announced lockdowns, we had to comply like all other businesses. So our business was close to zero then. However, in the early months, a couple of categories that we operate in were deemed essential services. For instance, plumbers, electricians, carpenters and appliance repairs were the categories that led to the buildup of demand on our platform. And we used the time to speak to consumers and understand how we could serve them better. We found that ensuring safety was extremely important, primarily because we are an at home service. So while people were less likely to step out through the pandemic, and that could have worked in our favour there was a huge responsibility for a platform such as ours, which enters your house to offer services with the utmost kind of safety measures. Also, how we train our partners, the SOPs and the communication, all changed over a period of a month. We’re now at a place where we’ve surpassed our pre-Covid-19 volumes in terms of number of services on the platform each month. So we’re at a number higher than where we were in February. In terms of revenues as well, we are at about 140% of our pre Covid-19 levels.
ABOUT THE BRAND
Urban Company is one of India and UAE’s largest home services company, with recent expansion into Australia and Singapore. The company offers services such as beauty and spa at home, cleaning, plumbing, carpentry, appliance repair, painting, etc. through its mobile app and website. It operates in 18 metropolitan cities in India and four international cities. It has a service partner network of over 30,000 hand-picked professionals.
Creative Agency: In-house
Digital Agency: In-house
PR Agency: AdFactors PR
Tarun Menon is the Director – Marketing at Urban Company. He is currently responsible for brand strategy and communications, along with the growth of key business verticals. Menon comes with 14 years of brand marketing, advertising & community engagement experience across tech start-ups, creative agency & media channels in the Indian subcontinent. Prior to Urban Company, he was with Uber India.
Q] What measures are you taking to ensure the safety of both your service partners & customers, especially for salon services?
Salon services are a high proximity category, and safety concerns and perceptions around whether it’s safe or not are heightened, because of the nature of the service rendered. Firstly, all partners on the platform record their own temperature every day and that is visible on the app at the time of booking. Secondly, before a service starts, there are safety actions that a professional takes such as putting on fresh gloves, sanitizing all of their equipment, wearing a fresh face mask and a face shield as well. During the service, while these tools are sanitized, they use single serve products. Also, our Roll-on wax as opposed to traditional waxing methods reduces contact. And when it comes to threading, in traditional method, a beautician holds the thread in their mouth and then renders the service. So, the team has gone back to the drawing board and taken on a new method of threading where the professional wears the thread around their neck, and then begins the threading.
Q] What are the services that are seeing more traction now as opposed to earlier?
Some categories have grown faster than the others. For example, haircuts at home as a category has grown seven times in size since the beginning of the lockdown whereas salon services for women, which is our largest category has seen slower recovery. But we’re seeing healthy repeat rates from consumers who’ve come to our platform through the lockdown period, which means that there’s some faith in the services, in the safety measures that we’ve sort of adopted through the period. Massage and spa is another category where we’ve seen incredible growth in the last three or four months, almost about 250% growth in this category. The other categories to consider are cleaning, our professional home cleaning services have grown by around 200%.
Q] What are your plans for the future?
We are continuously looking at the market, the sentiment is changing. The pandemic is also resetting habits in many different ways. So we’re constantly speaking to consumers as well as identifying opportunities that may come up. Within each category, there are experiments that we’re running in terms of trying to segment the market and potentially create tiers within each service to appeal to all kinds of tastes, and price points. The second area of intervention is growth in terms of geographical expanse. We are looking to move into new cities as well. And the third is international expansion wherein we are identifying new markets that we could expand into.