“It’s becoming more and more relevant to be a great brand builder”

Inés Ures, outgoing-CMO at Deliveroo on mapping a clear purpose, a three-sided marketplace and the importance of truly delivering on brand promises.

Izzy Ashton

Deputy Editor, BITE


How many times have you ordered Deliveroo in the last six months? Arguably, when the nation went into lockdown in the middle of March, food delivery became more important than ever. Not only to keep the nation fed and watered but also to provide a vital lifeline to the UK’s restaurant industry, forced to close their doors by the coronavirus pandemic.

For Inés Ures, outgoing CMO of Deliveroo, these restaurants became the company’s focus. The question the business asked itself was, she explains; “what can we do to help our restaurant partners because those are the ones that are then going to be feeding our consumers?” Deliveroo rolled out education activities and commission relief when they realised the challenge restaurants were facing was two-fold: firstly the initial lockdown but then, if they  reopened, there was a need to assuage people’s fear of returning to restaurants themselves.

With a new set of restrictions in place as of this month which places a curfew on bars and restaurants for 10pm, the food delivery market only looks set to grow in importance. For Ures, this means examining how they can extend the service the business offers to not simply restaurant delivery but also groceries.

Grocery shopping has seen a shift in purchasing behaviour that Ures describes as, “short distance, small basket shopping, but when you need to stay home, it becomes crucial.”

Don’t even think about the brand, think about it as a business: why do you exist in this world? That will become your brand.

Inés Ures

A three-sided marketplace

The reality for Deliveroo, as Ures explains is that it is a three-sided marketplace, supporting riders, restaurants and consumers simultaneously. Fundamentally though, as she says, “the role of the CMO, of any CMO, is to generate demand.” She goes on to explain that “that doesn’t really change during COVID times. It just shifts the way you need to do your job.” This extended to the rest of the marketing team; “what we do on a daily basis hasn’t really changed massively,” Ures adds.

While the day-to-day job stayed the same, what became vital for Ures was looking away from the more traditional marketing channels because, she explains, they were “just not good enough.” “We had to go one step beyond…and put the customer at the centre of the equation,” she adds.

As lockdown extended in the UK, Deliveroo stepped in to collaborate with the NHS, pledging to deliver 500,000 meals to its staff. It was a pledge that they managed to achieve, reveals Ures proudly. As a brand, she says, they felt they were in the right position to provide that service. But also, “we just thought it was the right thing to do at the time for the brand, for us but also for the people on the front line,” she adds.

How brands behave

“It’s becoming more and more relevant to be a great brand builder,” says Ures as she talks about the impact that the crisis will have on brands moving forwards. “The way that we will have to build brands will be different,” she explains. “It’s going to be more human, and more based on conversations and more based on delivering promises.”

Where once brands worked to use channels like TV to deliver repeat messaging to their consumers, now, believes Ures, it’s become less about telling people what you’re doing: “what matters is how you behave as a brand and the experience that you deliver as a brand.”

This extends to the purpose by which each brand operates, something Ures believes is more crucial today than it’s ever been. She feels that every business should lay out its purpose clearly and strategically so that the entire company can unify behind it. Write it down, she says, and “go and act on that every single day.”

For Ures, purpose is asking the question; “Why do you exist as a business?” She explains: “Don’t even think about the brand, think about as a business, why do you exist in this world? That will become your brand. If you as a company or as a brand still don’t have that purpose written down, you have to go and do it now.”

We have become more considerate. We understand better now what it is to suffer from something that felt always very far away from us.

Inés Ures

Truly delivering on brand promises

Ures believes that we have all grown more familiar with the idea of doing things remotely during the ongoing crisis, whether that’s exercise classes, hairdressers or, of course, ordering food from favourite local restaurants. She believes that while this will have long term effects for some consumers, others will inevitably go back to the way they were behaving. The ones that don’t though, she says, “will stick to the new behaviour because they will see it’s very convenient.”

Customers, they would’ve ordinarily spent two to three years acquiring, Ures says, they’ve now seen join in the last six months. They have come at a decidedly lower acquisition cost because the crisis saw many businesses simply stop marketing spend altogether, a situation that reduced the cost of advertising across the board.

She offers a reminder that this situation is not over but that it’s about what businesses do next that matters. “How does the brand continue to be honest?” she wonders. “This is the same challenge that every single brand is going to have which is, how do you truly deliver on that brand promise,” she explains, while staying profitable.

This is something that is becoming increasingly challenging particularly for marketing teams as, often when adjustments need to be made, the marketing budget is impacted. But Ures is optimistic as she says she sees food delivery as “a new form of entertainment,” as people go out less and stay in with families more.

The lockdown and ongoing crisis have been a time of consideration for many businesses, as Ures explains: “I think we have become more considerate. We understand better now what it is to suffer from something that felt always very far away from us.” As what once seemed far away continues to look to impact businesses around the country for the foreseeable future, developing a clear purpose and acting on it with integrity is the kind of sound advice marketers need as they navigate a decidedly unsteady business terrain. 


Inés Ures, outgoing CMO of Deliveroo will be speaking at the Festival of Marketing 2020. Visit the event's site to tune into the session.

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