Over the past year, Lalamove, an on-demand logistics platform for businesses and consumers, has gone out of its way to get noticed. The brand’s bright orange branding is emblazoned across Hong Kong, with the firm taking up prime OOH space across commercial areas, malls, outside residential condos, MTR stations and even on the market’s 118-year old trams. Just last month, Lalamove turned eight of its trucks into canvases for local artists, as it sought to keep its presence in the spotlight.
For Lalamove, which is finalising a potential billion-dollar IPO in Hong Kong, its ambitions to stand out aren’t restricted to its home market alone. The logistics brand is bristling with ambition to extend its dominance further afield, first to Southeast Asia and then beyond. In August 2020, it launched its fast delivery campaign across APAC and a little over a year later it launched its regional campaign across Southeast Asia and Latin America to further heighten its visibility.
“We have made our business and marketing highly-localised,” says Alex Kwan, director of marketing for Lalamove. “We operate a global brand, but based on local needs, we can provide differentiated services.” He points out that the on-demand platform’s offerings range from walkers in Hong Kong to large trucks in Southeast Asia, as Lalamove seeks to corner a wider chunk of the market.
To buttress his point, he says the brand’s 'Lalamoveit' campaign has a lot of local elements to it. While some markets are about a variety of vehicle types, others are about affordability and reliability. “When we create a regional or global campaign we need to create all these USPs are integrated across our different marketing campaigns,” he adds.
As an example of this nuance, Lalamove has 90 different versions of its TVCs across markets. In addition, the nuance with Lalamove’s marketing is visible with below-the-line activity that use localised content, stories and KOLs. “The Thailand KOL campaign obviously can’t be used in The Philippines,” says Kwan. “In some markets we have them talking about F&B and in others about bulky items.”
While Lalamove focuses on finding the right balance between a unified brand message and localised messaging, Kwan is also aware that the opportunity for Lalamove is, well, on the move. The company says it has been seeing a surge of bookings via its website and its recently revamped app across its markets—from helium balloons being delivered to staycationers in Hong Kong to computers being sent the homes of people in Taiwan earlier this year when Covid cases surged and lockdowns were mandated.
But even as its consumer business takes off, Lalamove is facing growing competition for its services in Southeast Asia, from different players in each market. Kwan says the on-demand provider will focus on its breadth of offerings and pricing to stand out. “Our brand is focused on being affordable and with a lot of vehicle types (to suit varied demand),” he adds.
A key tool to drive customer retention is its Lalamove Rewards loyalty program, which was launched in Hong Kong in September and will be rolled out across its other markets early next year. The platform has already signed up around 10,000 users in Hong Kong for this service (along with partners such as HKTV Mall for them to redeem points). “We think this is a very good market for us because it lets us create an ecosystem for businesses to list their products and in turn for us to expand our on-demand delivery orders,” Kwan explains.
But as regional competitors such as Ninjavan also rapidly grow their business, has Lalamove done enough to stand out or does it run the risk of becoming indistinguishable in an increasingly crowded, cluttered, and competitive market? We asked some experts to weigh in:
President APAC, Landor & Fitch
Lalamove is a true Hong Kong success story; a unicorn that’s managed to successfully go global. But its roots as a Hong Kong company require an exercise in re-establishment. Competitors in the logistics and delivery sector like GogoX, Deliveroo and Foodpanda have a strong consumer base and despite still being a growth sector, Lalamove will need to develop a genuinely differentiated brand strategy in order to obtain market share.
The brand has an opportunity to express itself is a Hong Kong hero; a company that was born and bred in Hong Kong. The brand’s recent moving art campaign is a great start in the right direction. By working with local artists, Lalamove is reaffirming its commitment to the region and enhancing its visibility to Hong Kongers in a way that creatively expresses their brand.
Any brand that expands to a consumer-centric business needs to be ready for the challenges and opportunities that come when dealing with customers directly. Lalamove has to ask itself if they are ready to elevate their brand to tap larger consumer audiences and if they have the infrastructure to continue to support growing expectations for high quality convenience. Where Lalamove has an opportunity in the shift to a consumer business is that it has developed great brand equity thus far in the B2B sector. It’s no secret that the Covid pandemic has accelerated the growth for the logistics industry but if Lalamove wants to sustain this momentum they need to ensure that they are growing sustainably with an eye for consumer centricity and competitive differentiation.
I think Lalamove is a very strong brand in Hong Kong. While B2B activities and re-locations seem to be practical decisions that are mainly driven by pricing and convenience, Lalamove has proven that their brand image contributes to their success as they strategically place prominent branded elements on all their drivers' vehicles. In traditional colour theory, orange combined with another lighter colour (white in Lalamove's case) gives a high energy visibility, while their competitor has a relatively calming blue combination. This seemingly small business (and brand) decision helps them stay at users' top of mind whenever they look for related solutions.
On Lalamove expanding its portfolio of services: The food and grocery delivery services require a completely different set of logistics and relationships behind the scenes. While I can see food delivery players expand more towards grocery delivery, and vice versa for grocery brands to explore restaurant delivery services, I think it would take too much for Lalamove to justify this growth. They have a strong positioning in what they do, and I think there are enough lucrative challenges to tackle within itself.
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