Maurine Alma

Chief Marketing Officer
Just Eat
"We have an aligned brand strategy across the globe, the brand looks the same everywhere."
The convenience of online ordering food from your own home has been a growth market for a number of years. The lockdown has accelerated this trend, with Just Eat (JET) as one of the sector’s success stories. CMO Maurine Alma explains how the fast-growing Dutch food delivery company manages global marketing without losing its local flavour.
Take it away Maurine (we couldn’t resist…).
‘Very funny. Yes, Just Eat is a long name. We've had it since our merger with Just Eat in 2019. Internally we often use JET. We're now active in all our 25 markets in a similar way; same orange house style, same logo. That's one of the ways we do scalable marketing; to make sure the look and feel is similar across the world. We've just taken over Grubhub in the US. In the future we can maybe align the platforms so you can use the product everywhere in the world.’
JET has been in the news quite a lot lately. They say it's eat or be eaten. 
‘When you just read the news, the only way we seem to be growing is by takeovers. But we also grow organically really rapidly. During the pandemic we obviously accelerated our growth, but even before that we were growing fast. That is because our category, online food ordering, is still growing globally. Despite the high penetration of adult population in countries like The Netherlands and the UK – both over 30 percent - there is a lot of growth potential. Here in The Netherlands, we're by far the biggest, but other players have been coming in. If you come in as a third or fourth player in this developed market, it will be really, really hard and expensive to grow. Our goal is to increase our scale by expanding restaurant offering and driving consumer penetration as fast as possible, ahead of everyone else, and then become the preferred choice.’

How is JET currently performing?
‘First half year results show very strong growth. After merging with Just Eat in April 2020, one of the focuses was to strengthen market leadership in the UK. Deliveroo and UberEats had come in and were growing faster than Just Eat. Now we are growing much faster and have further cemented our market leading position. We've been investing quite heavily, not only in marketing and branding, but also in sales and our delivery network.’

What do you offer that your competitors don't?
‘The big difference is in the network effect, whereby we have a lot of restaurants on our platform. When a lot of consumers choose you, this results in more orders and hence more revenue for your partner restaurants, which in its turn attracts  more restaurants to your network. In most countries we play this game way better than anyone else. Furthermore, we're very reliable and easy to use - be it on the app or on the web. And we have a hybrid model; many of our restaurants have their own couriers and we also provide delivery services to restaurants without their own delivery capabilities.’
What keeps you awake at night?
‘Despite our aligned brand strategy and brand positioning across the globe, we still have different names everywhere. So, we've recently started to do big sponsor projects, such as Euro 2020 and the UEFA Champions League. This gives huge visibility to the brand at a very relevant moment. Running big global projects while still retaining local relevance is quite a challenge. The reason we have those local names is partly because they are home-grown brands. Global competitors push the same brand everywhere. That’s where we’re different; we want to keep that equity in a country. It's about offering local restaurant choice, not about being the most international or the most global brand. For instance, we’ve changed the Grubhub logo, but it's still called Grubhub.’
Marketing is very important from a strategic point of view, so why doesn’t JET have a CMO on its board? 
‘Obviously the CMO and the CTO are important. I report to Jitse Groen, the founder and CEO, who built the company himself. He's done his own AdWords campaigns so he's very knowledgeable in all areas. At the same time, he can't do everything by himself anymore. I was the first CMO to join but obviously there was already a big marketing department. All our markets have their own local marketing teams. Obviously, as the global CMO I'm in touch with them. We have offices in The Netherlands and the UK and we’ve integrated the local marketing teams into the central team. We now have over 700 people in 25 countries in our marketing department.’

Organising them must be a daunting task…
‘The big markets have their own teams. Most of the performance marketing can easily be centralized because it's mostly done behind a computer. But we also have local people that are doing the campaigns. For instance, native speakers to check key words. They are part of one specialized global team. This way you can leverage and get the best talent, tools and technology. We therefore have specialized teams that work across the countries, and focus on branding, retention, performance and partnerships. For instance, we partner with brands like Ben & Jerry's or Heineken. We also have a big team for partner marketing; they do the marketing for our restaurants but also the merchandise for our restaurants, as well as the outfits our delivery guys and girls wear.’
Your UK TV ads are quite quirky and edgy. Is that how you want to position yourselves or is that just for the UK?
‘It's a challenge to be local whilst retaining the right tone of voice and touch the right chord in each market. We're in the middle of this. I think we're finding a sort of middle-ground, where humour will still be part of our brand, especially in the UK. But it will be executed differently across the markets.’
You inhouse a lot of your marketing expertise. It’s been said that this boosts efficiency but hurts creativity in the long-term?
‘Well, the only thing that we don't inhouse is our creative agency. But we see a lot of benefit in doing things in-house. You're able to track the best talent because you've got it all in one place. And it’s really a big advantage if you then do it yourself. In areas like retention or performance, or wherever you use a lot of marketing tech, all the tools are set up to to do it yourself. It’s better to have all the data in your own system anyway. There are still parts that we outsource to agencies, we don’t have all the expertise in house.’
Millions of people use your platform daily, resulting in a treasure chest of consumer data… 
‘You can't do without data, but there is a limit to what you can do with it. It's important to really control what you're doing and that you understand the implications of using the data. First and foremost, use your own data to see what people are actually doing on the platform, how they behave, and from there look at the opportunities.’

Are you concerned about the third-party cookie ban? 
‘If someone has placed an order, we see it on our platform. Without tracking we don't know where it's coming from. We can't connect the dots and optimize our campaigns anymore. That is a huge challenge and we do not yet have the answers. The likes of Google and Facebook are helping us to see how we can use our first party data as well. The key thing is that we're also using other ways. We're betting big time on more contextual advertising to be able to show a relevant message at the right point in time, such as the sponsoring around soccer.’

What's is the next big thing in marketing data and tech? 
‘At a certain point TV will become programmatic, it will be digitalised. That will really create a huge revolution in how to effectively reach your customers. You will be able to see way better what the effect is of someone watching an ad and what's happening afterwards. Currently it's guesswork.’

How do you measure return on investment?
‘During sports matches, for example, we see how the order pattern is developing and if it's incremental versus when we're not showing those ads. Do we see an uplift in new customers? Are we able to attract more? Does the order frequency from existing customers increase? We also look at top of mind, which is key. Our category is very instant, you're hungry and you want to order and you don't want to browse and consider all sorts of things. If the brand is top of mind, then obviously, you're miles ahead of anyone else. Therefore, you need to be visible at the relevant moments. Television advertising and sponsoring are the most efficient for mass reach.’
Who inspires you? 
‘One of them is Jitse. It's incredible how he has been building the company and shapes it for the future. He knows everything in detail, which can be pretty annoying. If something goes wrong, he always knows within minutes. We're now a really big company and we could easily become a very slow, internally focused corporate. But Jitse is still very entrepreneurial. From a strategic standpoint he's very focused, always showing the way forward. On the other hand, he’ll still jump onto opportunities.’

Finally, how do you do to relax in your spare time?
‘I love to run. It’s my type of meditation time, where I don't think of anything else.’
About Maurine Alma
Maurine started her impressive career at the fast-moving consumer goods giant Procter & Gamble, before moving to Google, e-commerce retailer Wehkamp, and in 2017 to Maurine is also a Member of the Supervisory Board at the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam and Coolblue.

About Just Eat

Just Eat was formed in 2020 when Dutch food delivery service merged with its British counterpart Just Eat. The holding company includes a.o. in the Netherlands, Lieferando in Germany, and Grubhub in the US. Just Eat currently covers 25 markets worldwide. It’s revenue increased 54% to €2.4billion in 2020.
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