Renewed Hope For Growth: Gojek’s Duc Phung On Strengthening The Roots Through Re-Branding
Duc Phung - Gojek Vietnam's Country General Manager. | Source: Dung Le for Vietcetera.
One of the biggest advantages of refreshing the look of a brand is the ability to reach new customers. Rebranding can offer the stimulation established businesses need to promote growth in an ever-evolving market.
Gojek, an Indonesia-based decacorn (a privately held company worth $10 billion or more), started as a motorcycle ride-hailing service provider and has since branched out into mobile payments, food delivery, and more. Its drivers are a familiar sight on the roads of Indonesia, Thailand, Singapore, and Vietnam. In the coming years, as the company continues on its expansion course, more cities in the region can expect the arrival of Gojek-green waves.
In Vietnam, where Gojek has a network of 150,000 drivers and 80,000 merchants serving millions of users, the focus of late has been on rebranding the company from GoViet (red uniforms) to Gojek (green uniforms). We’ve invited Duc Phung, the Country General Manager of Gojek Vietnam, to talk about Gojek’s journey and the purpose of the re-branding exercise.
How does it feel to go from red to green?
It was a bittersweet moment for me and a lot of people in the company, as well as our drivers, merchants, and customers. But becoming Gojek promises new exciting opportunities. In fact, the new chapter is the continuation of the legacy that we have built as GoViet.
As a co-founder of GoViet, I've been a part of the leadership team since 2018 and have playe a key role in building it from the ground up. Gojek is a big player today but it started from very humble beginnings in Jakarta. Back in 2010 most ride-sharing options in the city were four-wheeled, with two-wheeled vehicle drivers were usually on street corners waiting for customers or negotiating fares. The city’s traffic was often gridlocked. Inefficiency and bad customer service was also par for the course and there was no one in charge of improving customer experience.
The market was ripe for disruption, but instead of chasing after the next shiny product, Gojek started with the basics: prioritizing problem-solving through technology. What are the customers’ pain points? What are their needs? This is why Gojek (a play on the word “Ojek", which means “motorcycle taxi" in Indonesia) built its first few services around two-wheeled vehicles.
By providing a platform where drivers and riders could connect efficiently, riders’ lives were made a little easier and drivers were able to improve their income. This mission, to have a positive social impact and improve the lives of partners through technology, is the same mission we founded GoViet on in 2018. Vietnam’s context is very similar to that of Indonesia’s, and this is why Gojek’s model has worked so well here.
Vietnamese consumers struggle with traffic jams while drivers suffer from underemployment. Therefore, we started out in Vietnam with an aim to launch services that benefit those in need, including the drivers and small businesses, because this is where we can make a real impact.
How soon do you expect for these other services provided in Indonesia such as GoCar or GoMassage to come to Vietnam?
When it comes to developing services, we focus on the areas we believe we can make the greatest impact - namely our core services of transport, food delivery, and payments - what we call the Golden Triangle in Vietnam. Out of the three, we are missing Payments in Vietnam and that is one thing we’re working really hard on.
In fact, one of the reasons we merged GoViet and Gojek’s technology is so that we can accelerate the introduction of more products and services to Vietnam. In Indonesia, with about 20 different services, Gojek is the leading super app. This is what we are building in Vietnam.
In terms of transport, we have been quite successful in growing our two-wheeled fleet. As for four-wheeled transport, we are taking the time to understand the new regulations to make sure we are fully compliant as and when we do launch a four-wheeled product.
What were some bumps the Gojek team encountered when entering Vietnam? How does this new chapter mean for Gojek?
Like all new businesses, we experienced challenges and have had to learn some hard lessons along the way. Following a few leadership changes in 2019, we worked hard to keep the team energized, rallying them around our common mission and values. We are creating something exciting, meaningful and impactful.
We’re very fortunate to have such a diverse team – senior folks from IBM and other blue-chip companies as well as younger people from Uber and the likes – all working towards a common goal. Right now, we have around 200 people in the office and about 200 more at the Contact Center.
When we started, our strategy in Vietnam was to focus on high-impact cities such as Ho Chi Minh city and Hanoi, but with new technology, we can look at expanding into tier two cities as well. Currently, around 150,000 drivers and 80,000 merchants work with Gojek in Vietnam, and our customers number in the millions.
With the unification of our app and brand under Gojek, we now have access to new technology and resources. This means new products, a better customer experience and more benefits for the community.
In what ways has Gojek and the rebranding process itself had to adapt in Vietnam given the current situation?
The decision to rebrand was made about a year ago, well before COVID-19. We wanted to leverage our existing products and combine it with Gojek’s strengths in technology, scale and global branding. When the pandemic struck, we were in the last phase of preparation and had to adapt very quickly. New policies were developed to support our staff in dealing with the changes and adapting to a new style of working, and we became one of the first companies to shift to working from home.
More importantly, we recognised that our drivers and merchants were some of the hardest hit by the pandemic, particularly during the lockdown. We thus created the Gojek Partner Support Fund to support the income stability of driver and merchant partners whose livelihoods had been affected by the pandemic.
Gojek management and employees voluntarily contributed to the fund and we ran many initiatives to support our partners in the country, introducing insurance schemes and giving out free meals and vouchers to purchase food and other necessities.
What shifts in consumer behavior have you observed since the start of the pandemic?
The biggest shift I’ve seen is that consumers no longer see food safety as optional. People have shifted towards ordering foods that are associated with hygiene, safety and health. Restaurants with stricter hygiene measures saw an increase in sales compared to street-side food (during COVID-19, we supplied free safety seals to all merchants to reassure customers).
As a result, street food vendors saw a huge drop in customers during the pandemic - the main reason was because these street-side merchants had no access to food delivery technology. To support these merchants, we approached them and helped them go online through the GoFood platform. This generated more sales and helped them to stay afloat during the lockdowns.
Another trend in consumer behavior is the growing demand for healthy food such as vegetarian dishes and juices.
Can you share a little more about the strategy behind the re-launch? What are some things you’re proud of?
GoViet was very well received in Vietnam while Gojek’s brand awareness was not quite as strong prior to the rebrand. We knew we had to do something bold to create a lot of buzz. The concept behind our TVC announcing the rebrand was built around our mission of removing daily frictions and making life flow for our consumers. The tagline ‘Phiêu nhịp sống’ (Enjoy the Flow) refers to the metaphor of the city where drivers, motorcycles, cars, and people are seamlessly and simultaneously co-existing - a city where everything just flows.
It was filmed in Kiev, Ukraine and directed by Henry Schofield, an acclaimed filmmaker. The film involved 25 cars, 15 motorbikes and as many stunt drivers looping a giant motodrome 75 times. The whole set took a full 10 days to build and the crew worked nonstop for 5 days to make the project a reality. And it was a hit! The video has already reached 71 million views (as of 1 Oct) with a 54 second average watch duration out of 60 seconds. For a TVC, that is something I have never seen before in Vietnam.
What were some challenges Gojek faced during the relaunch period?
One of the biggest risks was the uncertainty brought about by COVID-19. In late June, the situation seemed stable with no new community infections. Then just one week before we launched, the second wave started in Danang. We had to plan around all these different scenarios. We were also worried about our customers having to adapt to the new brand since people loved GoViet so much, but we’re glad to see that our customers have been responding very well to Gojek so far!
Aside from the new product launches, what can your customers look forward to in the near future?
Currently, we are in the brand awareness building phase. We want as many people as possible to know about Gojek and what we do. For future campaigns, we will delve further into what each individual product offers and share more about other new and upcoming products.
A lot of exciting things are coming, not just for the consumers, but for our drivers and merchants as well, and I am looking forward to introducing all of these new initiatives to Vietnam.