Businesses that have been receptive to the various shifts in market demand and have effectively pivoted their corporate strategies are well-equipped to ride the economic upswing expected in 2022. 

The ride-sharing industry in particular has had to contend with the massive setbacks that were precipitated by the COVID-19 pandemic. During the onset of the pandemic, a survey by market research platform Milieu Insight showed that 45 per cent of people in Singapore were spending less on ride-hailing services than usual, while a significant 36 per cent were increasingly concerned about the COVID-19 situation. Travel restrictions, compounded by lockdowns, circuit breakers, and stringent safety management measures, have and continue to disrupt regular consumption habits.

The ‘modern’ rider

Ride-hailing itself continues to be a viable service as consumers turn to mobility apps to book rides and avoid the crowds in public transportation.

The ability to move from one point to another, be it through private rides or small-group carpooling, proves to be a boon for those who prefer not to worry about braving crowds. A McKinsey report on shared mobility showed that during COVID-19, ridesharing is a preferred option to trains and buses, in which social distancing is challenging.

We believe that this is due in large part to the consistent emphasis on health and safety standards within the ride-hailing industry, even prior to the pandemic. Consumers have immense trust and confidence that they are more safe and secure when using ride-hailing services. With the onslaught of the pandemic, the industry has taken even greater measures to ensure the health and safety of its riders by committing to regular wipe downs and mandated mask-wearing.

These steps have further solidified the public perception that private rides offered by ride-hailing apps are safer than public transit. A Singapore Management University survey found that Singaporean commuters were more likely to opt for private-hire cars and/or taxis over public transportation. With the looming threat of the more easily transmissible Omicron variant, we expect the use of this service to grow in 2022 as consumers continue to prioritise their health and safety.

There is also a shift in mindset that we increasingly see in people today. Private rides are not a matter of luxury anymore, but rather about comfort, practicality and reliability. Discerning consumers are able to weigh the pros and cons of each viable option. While public and private transportation each has their merits, ride-hailing services offer the midpoint of being hassle-free and fairly priced.

Revving forward

With Singapore treating COVID-19 as endemic and the country’s gradual transition to a hybrid work arrangement, consumers could strongly benefit from the advantages of ride-hailing. As the daily commute becomes an antiquated concept for many of us, ride-hailing is now an attractive, stress-free alternative for the cost-conscious, given the irregularity of in-office work.

At present, ride-hailing providers have gone on to offer subscription plans that are a cost-efficient, practical option to those who need more of these services. Subscription plans not only come with discounts or cashback but also with bonuses and special offers that give consumers more bang for their buck.

As two of the major market demands from the industry currently are the incorporation of food delivery services and a safe, worry-free ride-hailing experience, subscription plans have likewise come to reflect these consumer appetites. In Singapore, several ride-hailing companies have started offering bundled subscription services that combine both food delivery and ride-hailing services in a singular monthly plan. This is made even more practical as riders can adjust these monthly plans in accordance with their consumption patterns. Through these subscription plans, ride-hailing companies are able to provide a convenient and reasonably priced alternative for working commuters who are currently adjusting to the novel idea of hybrid working.

As the practice of hybrid work and the demand for food delivery remains stronger than ever, subscription plans will serve as a strong foundation for the ride-hailing industry to grow in 2022. With more of these plans emerging in the future, it is up to service providers to offer increasingly more attractive, competitive plans that consumers could adhere to for a long period of time.

Riding into the future

It has been roughly two years since everyone had to do an almost complete overhaul of their routines. However, this also means everyone had two years to adjust and embrace this new environment.

The changes in consumer behaviour offered ride-hailing providers several windows of opportunity they can leverage on, and the continuous rise in the number of users and increased appreciation of the convenience and practicality of the services these companies offer are to be expected. We’ve seen that the ride-hailing industry, in particular, is not only in lockstep with the shifting market demands, but is also proactive and strategic in its handling of the distinct challenges brought about by the pandemic.

Ride-hailing companies changed gears as they saw fit, and the road seems well-paved for them to continue to do so in the future.

This article is co-written by Terence Zou, CEO and founder of Ryde, and Katrina Adrianne, PR & communications lead at Ryde.

The article is published as part of MARKETECH APAC’s thought leadership series What’s NEXT. This features marketing leaders sharing their marketing insights and predictions for the upcoming year. The series aims to equip marketers with actionable insights to future-ready their marketing strategies.

If you are a marketing leader and have insights that you’d like to share with regards to the upcoming trends and practices in marketing, please reach out to [email protected] for an opportunity to have your thought-leadership published on the platform.

Thailand – In the true sense of making lemonade out of lemons in life, Thai dairy brand Dutch Mill decided to release a film about the struggles it went through to launch its latest commercial that had the goal of introducing its new product, Dutch Mill Selected Rich Espresso coffee-flavored milk.

The star of the film is the five-member crew of Wunderman Thompson Thailand, the agency which worked on the planned commercial. In a documentary-style film, it took viewers through how the original 50-member team of the agency had been downsized to just five and how the last men standing made the best of the situation.

The goal of the commercial is to demonstrate the journey of fresh milk and rich espresso coffee through the Rube Goldberg machine. The machine is the famous chain-reaction type of machine which often connects unrelated devices to perform a simple task in an overly complicated way.

Titled the “The Lockdown Rube Goldberg,” the production crew documented the Herculean task of engineering and filming the complex machinery it has envisioned for the commercial with a 5-member crew over three grueling months.

Under the governmental policy in Thailand, which remains in heavy lockdown, commercial shoots are restricted to no more than five people on set, which poses a huge challenge to all production crews.

Wunderman Thompson Thailand’s ECD Thasorn Boonyanate said that through their efforts, they aim to prove that it’s possible for brands to launch communication under a 5-person production limit.

“Not only did we commission the crew to make this documentary to promote themselves, but we also diverted a portion of our agency fee to hire 70 production staff who are currently out of work. The truth is we all need each other to get through COVID-19 together,” said Boonyanate.

Ultimately, in the end, the agency attained sweet victory, making Dutch Mill, the client, happy.

At the end of the film, the finished commercial was shown, where as a conclusion, it connects how the new drink by Dutch Mill helps to make one feel ‘strong’ in any situation. 

Raviwan Mahakachaporn, the marketing director of Dutch Mill, said, “In this lockdown situation, it is tough for all of us but especially for freelance workers who are not on a payroll. They need all the support they can get, and we are happy to be their working partner. We hope this video will cheer you up and fuel your strength to fight another day.”

According to the agency, within three days, the video had already received over 4,000 shares and four million organic views.

The current campaign follows Dutch Mill’s support of more than 200 Mum-and-Pop shops in Thailand during the pandemic which saw it diverting its advertising spend for user-generated geo-targeted ads for the local stores.

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia – Behind the threat to humanity that began upon the entry of 2020, the ‘silver lining’ that this generation has always had, if it may be pointed out, is the power of the digital world, and how digital content has ‘saved’ all by providing a semblance of the old normal such as experiencing the ‘outdoors’ even if it’s just through our screens. 

The pandemic has turned to be a time to innovate the internet and deliver content that would help people cope with the current times, and automotive brand Ford in Malaysia has just done its share, launching a new film that aims to transport viewers and help them touch base with the ‘outdoors’. 

Ford Malaysia
From Ford Malaysia’s new ad ‘Hello Outdoors’

Ford, which has been known to channel passion, energy, and ‘adrenaline rush’ in its campaigns for its car models, has once again hinted at the great outdoors, but this time, more of a ‘hi’ and a gentle reminder that soon, we are all going to come back and be one with nature again. 

In collaboration with Reprise Digital, the full-service integrated communications agency within the IPG Mediabrands network, the film ‘Hello Outdoors’ features scenic spots in Malaysia with a subtle but hopeful greeting on each feature. 

“Hello, Mist,” ‘Hello, open road,” and “Hello, bridge” are some of the greetings the film would say. 

In amplifying the sentiment of the film and to move emotions, Reprise zeroed in on the ‘little things’ and the normal places and structures everyone tends to overlook, reminding the audience how the renewed novelty of the life we got so used to has now made us view it with so much gratitude and beauty. 

Mandar Wairkar, one of Reprise Digital’s creative directors, shared that the idea behind the film stems from something we are all asking right now, “When can we travel again?”

“We know the Ford Ranger audience loves the outdoors, so the intended impact is to evoke that serenity and connection with the outdoors. That spirit of adventure and discovery. It isn’t dead, it is just grounded temporarily,” said Wairkar

Meanwhile, Queenie Tham, the marketing communications head of Sime Darby Auto Connexion-Ford, the sole distributor of Ford in Malaysia, said that the intention of the film is to touch base with Ford Ranger enthusiasts and the people who aspire towards the Ford Ranger brand and lifestyle. 

“Malaysians have been eager for our borders to open, eager to travel, explore and discover the outdoors again. The team at Reprise [has] managed to bring that message of hope, that we will soon have our time outdoors again to live our best lives,” commented Tham. 

In the end, it leaves a very hopeful note with a hint of emotion – “Let’s catch up when all is well again.”

The digital-only campaign was officially launched on 26 July and can be viewed on Ford Malaysia’s Facebook and YouTube. The campaign has also been developed to retain the Ford brand as top-of-mind where viewers are invited to book a live 1-on-1 session with a Ford Ranger Specialist to answer all their questions about the Ford Ranger, while they wait for the roads to open back up. 

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia – Despite the global business turmoil brought on by a tumultuous year, digital marketing agency Primal is helping local companies emerge from the COVID-19 gloom with renewed vigor,

As companies continue to battle decreasing economic health and drastic operational changes amid the pandemic, Primal leverages sophisticated digital marketing strategies for businesses of all shapes and sizes using the RADAR method of strategic planning and implementation.

RADAR is an acronym which stands for Research, Analysis, Well-designed, Actionable, and Results. In following the method, the agency provides businesses with a viable and targeted digital marketing strategy. 

It first goes into research to understand a brand, then dives into analysis to set the goals of each brand’s campaign. From such information, the agency devises a digital marketing strategy that is well-designed and actionable, then the agency endeavors in campaign monitoring, to measure and quantify results from the campaign for further enhancement of the strategy. 

The company vouchers for RADAR as a unique approach as it is not a rigid set of guidelines, but rather an agile framework that aligns strategic intent with anticipating and evaluating campaign performance.

According to the agency, genuinely successful online marketing is about focusing on what’s important and tangible. A scientific approach like RADAR will ensure that data is collated and analyzed, best practices are followed, market trends are incorporated, and budgets are stuck to and targets are hit. 

As with most other developed nations around the world, Malaysia is seeing growth in the online sector, both for leisure and commerce. For marketers, a high volume of traffic represents a golden opportunity. Companies who are leveraging these platforms to reach, engage, and convert customers are poised to win big in the online marketing war. 

According to a report by media company We Are Social, the top four dominant social network platforms in Malaysia areYouTube, WhatsApp, Facebook, and Instagram with 93%, 91%, 91%, and 70% usage penetration respectively. 

Meanwhile, a Southeast Asia-wide report by digital insights research company DataReportal shows that Malaysia currently has a penetration rate of 80% for online shopping, the third-highest level in Southeast Asia, trailing  Indonesia (90%) and Thailand (85%). 

“The difference with Primal is that we have an optimized, enthusiastic, creative, and results-driven mentality. We don’t just do the work for clients, but rather empower them with the knowledge, tools, and processes required to effectively harness digital marketing for themselves” said Ronnie Chin, general manager for Primal Malaysia

“We enable them to create data-driven digital marketing campaigns across social media, SEO, Google Ads, retargeting, and outreach that drive business results,” added Chin.

Sydney, Australia – Amidst being caught in the grips of a global pandemic, Australia-based clothing designer and manufacturer AS Colour has decided to pilot the Manhattan Associates’ Warehouse Management Solution (WMS) in New Zealand.

Despite unable to operate during New Zealand’s lockdown in March, AS Colour’s Auckland distribution centre (DC) saw a huge spike in online orders and the company said that this what has ultimately led them to push forward with the roll out the Manhattan SCALE WMS. 

Manhattan SCALE is an advanced system designed to optimise operations by boosting warehouse productivity and employee engagement, as well as meeting changes in demand across all types of distribution including eCommerce.

“This fluctuation in eCommerce demand is exactly the type of situation that drew us to implement Manhattan’s WMS technology in the first place, as it would prepare us for any future shifts in the market,” said Managing Director and Founder of AS Colour Lawrence Railton.

In lieu of the usual in-person deployment processes, AS Colour worked remotely with Manhattan Associates to successfully design, implement and deploy the Manhattan SCALE WMS. 

He added, “When rolling out the new system, we really had to use remote working to our advantage, which in the end allowed us to launch the new system two weeks ahead of schedule and save plenty of money on travel and overheads in the process.”

With four other DCs globally, AS Colour plans to implement Manhattan SCALE to all other facilities in the future, the first being its new facility in Melbourne, which is set to go live and begin receiving inventory by mid-October this year.

Manila, Philippines – Ever since the coronavirus hit the greater civilians worldwide, every country had been caught dead in their tracks; no one had a master plan in hand, and for the longest time since the virus had been birthed, countries – its government bodies as well as businesses are making up their pandemic responses as they go along. 

A strategy that has been resounding across nations is the restriction of transportation services to contain contact, and in the Philippines, the government vacillated since March in coding the nation along four different quarantine levels; albeit unique, all with a directive to halt public transportation.

APAC vehicle-routing tech SWAT Mobility pokes the Philippines during these strange times and seeks to present a solution to the nation’s transpo plight. Amid suspended mass transit systems and almost half to a hundred percent public utility vehicles disallowed, it has left the government imploring companies to implement shuttle services for their employees.

Just like a ride-hailing service, SWAT Mobility operates through a mobile app, but one where its services cater to a group-specific transpo pooling. In a virtual presser Aug. 19, Chief Revenue Officer Nicholas Stipp presents the two options, ‘Commute Pass” and “Just In Time” that companies can choose from to transit their workers.

For companies with staff that have stable shifts and predictable reporting times, “Commute Pass” offers a riding service where bookings are confirmed for the whole month with the same pick-up and drop-off location. “Just in Time” on the other hand, works well with types of companies whose employees have different reporting and knock-off times.

With “Just in Time,” passengers can book a ride up to 10 minutes before departure, where the system collates the bookings and generates optimized routes for the entire vehicle fleet within minutes.

This isn’t the first time that SWAT Mobility has looked into the Philippines as a possible market. Stipp said that around mid of 2019, the Singapore-headquartered company has already tagged the country as a top priority for expansion outside its HQ.

“I started coming [in the Philippines] about a year ago, but the question at that time was, how do we address commuting challenges under normal circumstances. As things have aggressed with COVID, we really accelerated our plans, so we planned to do a trial basis with [workspace solutions company] KMC, and see how things would go, and make sure everything is stabilized. But we have found that demand is just too strong, so we really scrambled in, and now we have multiple clients within a couple of months,” said Stipp. 

Eventually, as the country eased to a more lenient community quarantine, and public transport has been gradually allowed to ply, Filipinos find themselves going back to point-to-point (P2P) buses as mode of transport, aside from the general public utility vehicles (PUVs). P2P buses are buses which have a predetermined single pick-up and drop-off points.

One of the pain points that SWAT Mobility vows to solve with their products is the aching process of arriving at the exact location of work, and thereafter reaching one’s place of home.

According to SWAT Mobility’s data, a person trying to get home from work via a P2P or PUV would get picked up from a common passenger point and be transported to a general drop-off that is still roughly four to five kilometers away from the person’s exact residential, incurring additional rides and more time spent on the road.

SWAT Mobility said that with their transport solutions, passengers are given a “close-to-door” service where vehicles await right outside employees’ workplaces, and each passenger transported to a drop-off point that would only need a person to travel a walking distance of a maximum 300 meters. 

The company had first run a SWAT Mobility deployment for healthcare workers in Thailand in April, and has followed releasing the same mode of transport for workers of state-owned healthcare Philippine General Hospital (PGH).

As of current, PGH is utilizing SWAT Mobility’s “Just In Time” booking,  where a 24-hour deployment is implemented with three shifts of round trips. 

Aside from PGH, workspace solutions provider KMC has also tied up with SWAT Mobility to provide its employees with a Smart Staff Corporate Shuttle; a home-to-office and office-to-home transport for its 15 office sites which launched in July 2020. 

Stipp said in a press statement that the company will continue working with the public and private sectors in the country to further alleviate the transportation burden off Filipino workers’ shoulders, and add resolve to the traffic problems that have always plagued the country.

He said, “SWAT Mobility’s core belief is that efficient transport is a fundamental right and with that, the company’s mission is to improve congestion as well as improve quality of life through a cloud mobility engine.”

The COVID pandemic has seen a plunge in the employment rate for most industries and according to the Philippines’ statistics, the country’s unemployment has risen to 17.7 percent in April.

Homegrown super-service app MyKuya which launched in 2018 has been since handing out opportunities for its would-be partners, but the ongoing retrenchments in businesses have further proven the app’s value proposition.

MyKuya is a mobile-based application and technology platform which allows users to quickly hire trained partners to run jobs such as grocery delivery, personal shopping in malls, plumbing and carpentry works, and even on-demand tasks for small businesses.

These partners, called Kuyas and Ates (brother and sister), are able to become part of the on-call workers by signing up through the app, and going through just like any normal hiring process, that of with document requirements. 

As of current, the app has signed up 10,000 partners, and they are nowhere near from stopping at that, as MyKuya is rallying to create 1 million job opportunities by 2022.

With this massive goal, how do then the company plans to reach out to prospective Kuyas and Ates?

MyKuya’s Marketing and Communications Manager Gab Billones said that hyperlocalizaiton of content and simplification of narratives are some of its top strategies.

“One of the most effective strategies that we do is hyperlocaliczing our efforts, really targeting communities, condo associations, and different particular groups where interests of the majority, particularly the target market that we have are present in these online communities,” Billones said.

“We also do simplifications. We’re not just doing hyperlocalization, we also simplify the messaging, and the narrative of MyKuya, so it becomes more relatable to as many people as possible. We curate stories, particularly highlighting the activities that our partners do, and the kind of value that our customers actually find with MyKuya services. So those are the kinds of narratives that we actually highlight on our Facebook messaging, and we’re still trying to reach out more and more communities, in preparation for our expansion activities as well,” he added.

Presently, MyKuya has established online presence on the major social media channels of Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. On Facebook, they present real-life testimonials of individuals who have already worked as partners for the app, integrating the promotional hashtag #MyKuyaMyHero. 

“How do our Kuya and Ate exemplify heroship during the pandemic? Each Kuya, a different story! Read on the inspirational stories of our partners in this time of lockdown and ECQ, and find out how they are able to help many people!” said one of the posts, followed by quote cards of partners, bearing their images and testimonies. (Translated in English)

In terms of the app’s users, the super-service app has also responded to the hard times that the pandemic has thrusted many into, and has made service rates more wallet-friendly amid users’ tightened budgets.

One thing that it has already done is to reduce the rates for their Pick-up & Drop service, lowering it from P150 per hour to P99 per hour within the MECQ period. 

Reduced rates will also be seen on the app’s services for their enterprise owner users such as BizHelper and MotoToday services. BizHelper is help in tasks like packing, sorting, and organizing, while MotoToday is for those that require motorcycle delivery or pick-ups. Under the MECQ, the lower minimum number of hours to avail of these services has been reduced from 6 hours to 4. 

Enterprise owners are one of the main stakeholders of the app. As of today, it has over 100 SME users. 

When we asked about their approach to business development, just like how they reach out to potential partners, MyKuya’s Country Head Dennis Bunye said that they go for a personalized approach, even implementing an SME club.

“We reach out enterprise partners in terms of in-person, face to face conversations, and we also get referrals in terms of how we can gain access to certain communities, which we hope to serve as well in order to be able to provide more value to them,” said Bunye.

“We are also having this what we call SME club, wherein we will make use of the spirit of community and provide value through not only giving advice and not just being salesy about it, but really sharing what we learned as we get to understand further the requirements of our SMEs right now,” he added.