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'A sense of ownership': HappyFresh on why it created an in-house ad model


By Shawn Lim, Reporter, Asia Pacific

July 3, 2019 | 6 min read

Indonesia-based online grocery platform HappyFresh says its focus on building a personalized and customized user journey across its communication channels through first-party data drove its choice of an in-house advertising model.

The four-year-old startup invested in its own creative and media team to create highly personalized campaigns. Tasked with spearheading these efforts is David Lim, the ex-Scoot performance marketing lead who was headhunted as HappyFresh’s vice president for marketing in 2018.

Lim’s remit spans search, social media (paid and organic), customer relationship management and programmatic. He says his team is made up of ex-agency specialists who are extremely well versed at their specialization, from the creation and production of social, copywriting, media buying and targeting.

“The challenge of such a model is to make sure they understand the fact that they now have access to first-party data more readily than when they were on the agency-side of the business. This, in turn, results in a benefit where all of us stick much closer to the business and have a sense of ownership,” he explains to The Drum.

“The only downside of having this model would probably be the need to chase them out of the office on certain peak periods because they are so used to working long hours!”

HappyFresh, co-founded by Fajar Budiprasetyo, currently the platform’s chief technological officer, works on a model similar to Instacart and Honestbee. It partners with offline retailers to sell their products through its website and app and deliver the products to consumers within an hour.

To do this, it employs its own personal shoppers to shop for consumers, who have the option to adjust their orders where needed or call the shoppers to make switches.

While it has raised significant funding, HappyFresh has not had the easiest of journeys since it launched. A year and a half after it went to market, it decided to pull out of Philippines and Taiwan to concentrate on its home market of Indonesia and on two overseas markets in Malaysia and Thailand.

With its Asian rival Honestbee now facing the troubles it once faced in 2016, HappyFresh is keen to ramp its operations and Lim believes there is no time better than now as the brand launched a rebranding campaign today.


Honestbee, which also runs a host of other services aside from groceries, previously announced it was suspending its Asia Pacific operations and laying off 10% of its workforce.

While it ceased its operations in Hong Kong and Indonesia, its food business in Thailand, and its operations in Japan and the Philippines, Honestbee will continue to operate its grocery delivery service and its tech-enabled supermarket in Singapore called Habitat.

“We want to provide convenience in grocery shopping, which is an age-old activity that has been carried out by households all over the world and as cities started developing themselves, a few key social situations started surfacing, making this activity cumbersome and time-inefficient,” he explains.

“Some of these key social situations consist of traffic jams, technological advancement specifically in the mobile phone space, and the increased demand for efficiency in daily life.”

Lim says having an in-house advertising model is key to ramping HappyFresh’s operations because it can use its proprietary analytics and data stack called HappyData, to collect first-party data like purchase frequency, stock keeping units in each order made and many other variables, based on unique email addresses.

For example, Lim says HappyFresh’s biggest users are working female and/or mothers who are between the ages of 25 and 39, and millennials who have moved out of their parents’ homes and pursuing their career goals.

For this group of audiences, which has a “want it all, want it now” mindset, and the ones who choose to spend their time on experiences more than anything else, Lim says the data HappyFresh has collected also shows that there have concerns like environmental friendliness and healthy living.

Armed with the data, HappyFresh has embarked on a journey of eliminating non-biodegradable plastic bags as well as focusing its messaging on the possibility of having a healthy and liberated lifestyle.

Lim explains this is exceptionally important as a marketing communication angle since the platform understands that 'health is wealth' and its target audience believes in this too.

“Efficiency is a key concern to our prime target audience and thus, we focus a lot on building a personalized and customized user journey across our communication channels,” he explains.

“Having a rich first-party data of all our customers, we are able to launch highly personalized campaigns in the most agile fashion to ensure execution excellence and quality are well controlled within our means.”

He adds: “It is also much easier to coordinate the execution of a regional campaign from a centralized HQ position in Jakarta.”

HappyFresh, however, is not averse to working with agencies and platforms for capabilities it does not have. It is currently working with its mobile attribution provider AppsFlyer to understand which channel drives the highest traffic.

It is also keen to understand the traffic into its mobile app while monitoring the journey of all its users once they land on its platform.

“For users who drop off from our mobile app without completing an order, we utilize data analytics to understand what the reason might be and approach them via our remarketing stream to show the most personalized messaging to bring them back onto the purchase journey,’ Lim explains.

For now, HappyFresh has no plans to increase its presence outside of the two overseas markets it is operating in. Singapore remains a possibility, however, as HappyFresh has a partnership with ride-sharing platform Grab, which is headquartered in the city-state.

The partnership sees HappyFresh working with GrabFresh, an on-demand grocery delivery service operated by Grab, in Jakarta to order and deliver groceries to users who are keen to avoid the city’s notoriously bad traffic jams.


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