Experiential marketing paired with tech innovation strengthens brand preference- Raghuvesh Sarup, CMO, Ola

Known for creating a brand presence through localization, Ola is spreading its wings in different parts of the country whilst thinking locally to innovate and solve ground level issues. With Uber and TaxiForSure fighting in the same league, Ola is tapping a billion Indians by creating mobility for the travelers and entrepreneurial opportunities for their driver-partners. Excerpts from a conversation with Raghuvesh Sarup, Head of Categories & CMO, Ola.


Q- We are very keen on knowing the number of cabs and drivers on road as on date?

Ola, has become one of the most popular mobile app for transportation and is currently operational in 102 cities in the country. Ola offers a range of diverse mobility options, ranging from a network of over 450,000 vehicles, including several categories such as luxury cars, cabs, shuttles, auto-rickshaws and black-and-yellow taxis.

Q- Ola drives very high on creating a brand presence through localization. If you could throw more light on the same?

India is unique in many ways and Ola has become a household name for millions of Indians already. Ola offer options (we call them categories) that suit Indians mobility and travel needs. This is based on a deep understanding of the local market’s established as well as new trends and launching products with the right features and at the right price points. For example – Ola Lux was launched last month to suit the needs of young professionals in large metros like Delhi and Mumbai who want to maintain their lifestyle in a pragmatic way that means not having to drive or park. In an altogether different case of targeting, we offer Ola Auto in many tier 2 & 3 cities where autos are the most ubiquitous mode of transportation. In fact this is the 60th year of the auto in India. Another category - Ola Micro - was recently launched keeping in mind the needs of users who want a comfortable AC cab ride at everyday affordable prices. Micro has received a phenomenal response from customers as well as the driver-partners. The fact that Ola Micro alone, as a category, has become larger than our nearest competitor as a whole speaks volume for its success.

Q- Besides ease of mobility through quick access and localization, what are the other offerings employed to up the game?

Apart from categories, Ola also continues to innovate on first of its kind offerings like Auto-Connect Wi-Fi, localization and 2G optimization through its ‘Innovation Labs’. Auto-Connect Wi-Fi allows users to automatically connect to 4G Wi-Fi in an Ola cab without having to enter credentials every single time. Ola Auto-connect Wi-Fi has seen tremendous response and acceptance amongst its Prime customers and we plan to make it available across all our categories including Micro, Mini and Auto-rickshaws available on the Ola app. For the benefit of our driver-partners, especially in the tier 2 & 3 cities, the driver-app is available in 8 Indian languages including English, Bengali, Gujarati, Hindi, Kannada, Marathi, Tamil and Telugu, making it extremely user-friendly for local drivers to use. The Ola app for consumers is 2G optimized, which allows users in smaller towns and low network areas to use the app without compromising on speed and ease of access.

Additionally, our marketing is also hyper-local. We market our products differently at the city, neighborhood and even geo-hash level.

Q- Ola has been known to be riding very high on experiential marketing. If you could share a few campaigns that have worked out really well for the brand?

For Ola Lux, we recently had Chitrangda Singh promoting its launch in Mumbai and Delhi. Her pictures and tweets generated a lot of excitement for Lux. Ola also partnered at some events and activities like NH7, IPL and Sunburn festival. We also partnered with Myntra to flag off a ‘LookGood Express’. Dedicated cabs from Ola were sent to selected customers to offer them a complete fashion makeover. We also tied-up with OnePlus and gave our customers an opportunity to buy a smartphone that was first available on Ola.

Q- How have these activities been able to offer a unique experience to consumers?

We want our users to gain access to exclusive events and properties such as IPL Match Mania, Sunburn and NH7 even when regular tickets are sold out. Customers also enjoy getting exclusive access to a new device or style tips from fashionistas.

Q- What percentage of the total marketing spend goes into experiential marketing?

We invest in national as well as hyper-local marketing with high ROI. Being an internet company, we are scientific about measuring results.

Q- How is that you matrix the value that Ola receives from experiential marketing?

We look at both business & brand metrics as an outcome of experiential and any other marketing. Experiential marketing drive business growth, as well as active user engagement and re-engagement. When experiential marketing is combined with technological innovations like Auto Connect WiFi, it also strengthens consumer lifetime value and brand preference.

Q- Customer satisfaction is key in a service industry. How are your service partners working towards it?

At Ola, our mission is to create mobility for a billion Indians; and one of the key pillars is a robust ecosystem for our driver-partners. Driver-partners are entrepreneurs themselves and are happy to learn and grow with Ola. A strong feedback mechanism helps customers to rate drivers, and drivers to rate customers.

Q- What’s coming next for Ola customers?

The mission to create mobility for a billion Indians leaves room for all types of mobility solutions. We will continue to build innovative, hyper-local and consumer insight based solutions that provide affordable, convenient and eco-friendly commuting experiences. Ola’s shared mobility offerings, Ola Share and Ola Shuttle are receiving a very good response from the customers. Ola Share has been operational in 7 cities for several months. We did a study on environment and found out 'Share' helps bring down CO2 emission levels as well as save many litres of fuel because users opt for shared rides on the Ola platform across multiple cities. Earlier this year, Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi launched India’s first online e-rickshaw on the Ola app as a part of the government’s ‘stand up India’ initiative.

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technology ola taxi Raghuvesh Sarup travel

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