Operating in various cities, Yulu, a micro mobility platform service, faces unique challenges to keep people moving; we talk to the team to understand their marketing strategy.
Over six months of braving the pandemic has put forth several waves of challenges in front of those trying to ensure brands stay alive in the minds of customers. Marketing efforts can be said to have been divided into three parts: When the lockdown was announced (and extended several times), the various phases of unlocking and the current scenario when most cities are limping back to normalcy. Yulu is no different & their marketing strategy reflects the same.
However, it comes with a very curious and intriguing factor: It’s a brand that deals with urban mobility. How do you concentrate your efforts into telling people to move out and yet stay indoors? How do you strike the balance? We talk to the team at Yulu to find out their marketing strategy through the chaos.
Through the pandemic, there have been three key areas of communication that Yulu has concentrated on. These include:
- Logical thinking where they leveraged the presence of Yulu zones near homes and offices, where people could see a brand representative sanitising the bikes on a daily basis.
- Use of these visuals online to garner trust.
- Transparency where the user could see the time elapsed since the bike was last sanitised.
Phases of communication
When the lockdown came into force, businesses were suspended and mobility was severely restricted. Yulu’s userbase wasn’t allowed to go out. In regards to communication, they had choices to make.
“If we didn’t talk, our association would go away. If we talked, people would question why were we talking when we were of no use to them. So, we designed our communication around sustainability and precautions, and used push notifications to ask people to not step out,” Amit Gupta, Co-founder & CEO, Yulu explains.
The brand talked extensively about corona warriors and also lent support for the delivery of groceries and medicines.
The next phase, in early May, was tricky on multiple levels. Cities, more precisely, sections within cities, were undergoing different phases of the unlock, depending on the severity of cases they were handling at the moment. For Yulu, it brought forth a challenge that they tried to overcome with the help of data from several interval surveys.
The marketing team at Yulu found that that people were worried about COVID-19, reliability and safety of the services they would use. Social distancing was another key concern. This is when Yulu pivoted their communication towards talking about safety and hygiene. They also leveraged several trending formats to keep their communication fresh and drive engagement among their TG.
The third phase, which the brand is currently trying to figure out is one that depends heavily on them decoding their key customers October onwards. Here, they are dividing their customers on the basis of use-case cohorts. People seeking last-mile connectivity to and fro from office, especially around the tech parks in Bangalore constitute their biggest consumer base.
In Mumbai, key areas include industrial and manufacturing belts.
In regards to demographics, their potential customers include blue-collared and grey-collared personnel. Accordingly, they have launched long-term rental formats for convenience. They are communicating about safety while highlighting use-case scenarios like running errands and leisure/functional uses. A special focus is also on encouraging women to use Yulu bikes.
Yulu social media marketing strategy
Yulu operates in six Indian cities, including Bangalore, Mumbai and Delhi. Each of these cities brings forth different challenges, making social media communication tricky.
How do they use the same social media page to talk to people in Mumbai, who are under strict restrictions and those in Bangalore ready to go back to work?
To tackle this, they pick overarching themes and ensure the communication is relevant despite geographies, Darshika Singh, Marketing & PR Lead, Yulu tells us. So while they use paid promotions to pivot communication towards relevant persons in specific geographies, they use their overall social media presence to build a national brand with certain fundamental tenets that stand true across key markets.
This includes the messaging around various rental options, sustainability and last-mile connectivity. They play with the content of the creative to localise the communication, especially while announcing a new zone or to amplify presence in a new city.
For example, the overall communication would be about a rental scheme that applies to all locations but the visual will be about a specific location where they wish to amplify the message to drive more usage. “There are multiple layers of content that are weaved together,” Singh tells us.
Further, Singh explains how they divide the week primarily into weekdays and weekends when it comes to planning communication. On weekdays, they primarily talk about work commute and how they can provide convenient services to those who need it and on the weekends, the communication is more about leisure and running errands.
The brand is also prominently leveraging IPL to drive conversations.
Sustaining brand ethos
With almost any product or service, there are two major use-case scenarios. One that the brand intends to reinforce and another, which depends purely on the customers and their immediate surroundings and circumstances. So while Yulu intends to project itself as a brand that helps people with work commute, they do have a chunk of the customer base that uses the service for leisure and fitness purposes. This is especially true in a scenario where people have been stuck at homes for weeks due to the lockdown.
However, it’s not a factor that they wish to put forth prominently in their overall branding efforts, especially beyond social media.
Gupta explains the rationale behind this marketing strategy, “It’s a very local phenomenon. Bangalore is our biggest market and here, the commute is largely work-related. We do have a presence in other cities where use-case scenarios differ. In Delhi, the Connaught Place area is one where we see a lot of leisure usage. We do talk about sustainability and air quality but amplifying Yulu as a brand that wants to keep people fit would result in dilution of our branding.”
Going forward, Yulu has a unique challenge to tackle. They can no longer tell people to stay indoors. Now, they have to strike a balance between safety and nudging people to go out in line with the economic activity in the city. On the business end, they want usage to go up in a way that they can facilitate the economic activities and needs of the cities.
As brands continue to evolve according to the needs of their potential customers in the new normal, the paths they take are going to be interesting to track. Yulu is one of the brands with the potential to offer innovative solutions, spearheading these efforts with their communication strategies. It would be interesting to see how they make the most of it going forward.