Speaking to a packed audience at MAD//Fest last month Koehler outlined how being brave, having hope, and a clearly defined purpose was key to revolution, both on the streets, and in creating a disruptor brand. This, she believes, allied with the culture of Deliveroo, is why it has had so much success since launching in 2013. 

Identify and solve a problem 

As with most disruptors, Deliveroo was born because its founder, Will Shu, wanted to solve a problem. As an investment banker, he could never find anything he wanted to eat once he got home after a long shift in the office. His solution was simple, it was Deliveroo. Tsu removed the friction of ordering direct online and, “he created and pioneered the logistics enabled marketplace” with all restaurants in one place. He got into the mind of a customer because he was one. 

Be obsessive about the consumer but read between the lines

Koehler, like all marketers, said that all companies should focus on the customer. However, she was keen to say that even with a raft of data and consumer insights, her role is to “read between the lines”. Customers might not tell you everything. “Find the the delight that that can really disrupt the market. It's not going to be the obvious stuff.”

As an example she said, “I'm not sure that if you had asked the customer five years ago in the UK and you had asked them if they need groceries delivered in less than 20 minutes they would have said yes.” Now, such deliveries are a fast growing part of Deliveroo’s business. 

Inside one of Deliveroo's Dark Kitchens.

Identify the game changers across the market 

Koehler described how Deliveroo operates as a three-sided marketplace - the customer, the restaurant, and the rider - and when Deliveroo thinks about new ideas and strategies, they have to benefit at least two sides of their marketplace. It was via this way of processing ‘what Deliveroo should do next’, that the dark kitchen was born. 

From insights from their restaurant partners, it was apparent that many did not have the space in their kitchens to fully commit to delivery or were too preoccupied with serving customers who were dining in. With delivery being around 10% of their business, it didn’t make sense to reorganise for it. Hence the creation of delivery only kitchens. 

This, Koehler believes, has had two huge benefits for both the customer and the restaurant. For the restaurant they could “think about delivery as a separate stream and can optimize for it - packaging, separate menus etc. so they can focus their energy on that, rather than trying to make it all work in one restaurant/space. ” For the customer, Koehler, who describes Deliveroo as a content business, said, there was a “more content for them to choose from”. If you live in central London, there are amazing restaurants to choose from but in more suburban areas there is not the wealth of choice. “Having a dark kitchen in suburban areas allows us to serve customers better content, better selection... even if they don't have a restaurant they are a fan of nearby”

Deliveroo's #HereToDeliver campaign during which they provided support to customers, riders, restaurants and the community during the COVID-19 pandemic

Embrace disruption. Prepare for change.

Another of Koehler’s key tips was that change in life is constant and that we should “embrace it”. The past four years, Koehler says, has been one of constant change, “new Prime Ministers, Brexit, the pandemic, and now talk of a recession… so I guess the one thing to know is that change will be there. And my view is you might as well embrace it.” 

Koehler outlined how, at Deliveroo, they have been able to ‘embrace it’ because of the culture that is part of their DNA. At the start of the pandemic they were about to launch a campaign based on ‘giving yourself a treat’, but within 24 hours they pivoted from that to being a national service that was #HereToDeliver. “Everyone in the company embraces change, and just tries to make it work.” 

Build in flexibility. 

Embracing change is part of the culture and building flexibility into their plans is the practical side of that. At Deliveroo, when they draft their plans for the upcoming year, they do not go into the tiniest detail. “We think about scenarios. We think about differences in outcome depending on how the environment develops… trying to be flexible.” Her key tip was that brands need to change their processes, as well as culture, to allow for this flexibility to be built in.

To find out more about Deliveroo's dynamic culture, watch Tina's session here

Over 8,000 people attended MAD//Fest on 6-7 July. Speakers included Rachel Waller, Global VP Innovation, Burberry, Sarah Barron, CMO, Domino's, Peter Zillig, Marketing Director, Ford Europe, Susan Hoffman, W+K, and author & broadcaster, David Baddiel. Full sessions are available now on ourYouTube channel.