Marketing in the times of COVID-19: Urban Company
Rahul Deorah, Vice President - Marketing, Urban CompanyUrban Company
Urban Company is slowly and steadily opening up its services.

Marketing in the times of COVID-19: Urban Company

Urban Company is slowly and steadily opening up its services.
  • In our latest interview series, we talk to brands to understand how they are coping with the new normal and their strategies towards navigating these difficult times.
  • As Urban Company starts operating in a few selective green zones, we speak to Rahul Deorah, Vice President - Marketing, Urban Company to understand how its regaining its consumers trust, what kind of employee wellness programs it has introduced to ensure they feel motivated, and its larger marketing strategy for the lockdown.
Urban Company (earlier UrbanClap) has seen an uptick in the demand for home cleaning and hygiene services as people are becoming more health-conscious. The app had become quite popular for its home repair and salon services before the pandemic broke out. However, people have been wary about letting outsiders inside their homes lately. Urban Company rose to the challenge and tweaked its marketing strategy. It started communicating every day about the changes it introduced in its services and SOPs.

With gradual relaxations in the lockdown, Urban Company is slowly and steadily opening up its services. And after seeing a high demand for home cleaning, it has also started offering disinfection services for cars and commercial spaces. It has opened its salon services in a few selective green zones.

And now that people are under house arrest and have limited access to various services, Urban Company did some social listening and mapped out a few trends. It tweaked its logo across platforms to convey the importance of social distancing and wearing a mask. Apart from that, it realised that people are looking for a lot of DIY videos to make the best of their time. Therefore, it started uploading beauty and wellness video tips to help its consumers surf through the challenges they are posed with. It is also conducting live sessions to engage with its consumers.

We caught up with Rahul Deorah, Vice President - Marketing, Urban Company to further understand what kind of precautions the organisation has taken to ensure the safety of its employees, the idea behind its latest mental-wellness initiative, UC Academy, and its larger marketing strategy.


Q. How challenging have the last few weeks been for you as a brand?

The past few weeks have been challenging for us. As a brand, we have tried to ensure that we are in touch with our consumers. We are keeping them posted about the changes in service SOPs and the complete shift towards hygiene and safety to ensure that they get the best possible service experience in the safety of their homes.

Q. From your wide umbrella of services, which ones are you offering right now?

Since the last month, we have been slowly and steadily opening our services. Our Home Repairs and Maintenance services - appliances repairs, plumbers, electricians, carpenters and cleaning – are available across non-containment zones. Seeing the huge request and requirements, we also launched Disinfection Services for cars, home and commercial spaces. Lately, we also opened up our beauty and salon services in a few cities.

Q. Now that salon services have begun, what precautions have you taken to ensure the safety of your employees? What kind of response have you seen for the same?

We have made the following changes in our SOPs:

1. All UC professionals are equipped with 3-ply masks, gloves and hand sanitizers.
2. Usage of single use products and disposables to ensure zero cross-contamination
3. All service partners have been trained according to WHO prescribed hygiene standards.
4. Sanitization of all tools and equipment prior to the services
5. All our professionals are required to undergo a daily temperature check, which is visible to the consumer on their app
6. Low contact roll-on waxing and threading for maximum hygiene

We have seen really good feedback to start with. Customers are liking the way we are providing the services with utmost caution.

Q. People are becoming more health-conscious and finally maintaining hygiene at their homes, so have you seen an increase in demand for your home cleaning services as well?

Yes, we are noticing increased demand in cleaning and disinfection services.

Q. What has your marketing strategy been during the lockdown weeks? Have you changed your media mix, investing more on platforms like Digital since a few other mediums like OOH/Print have been suffering due to the lockdown?

We have been always present on digital platforms for our marketing campaigns. Although over the past few months, we have decreased our spends and pivoted towards organic modes of communication.

Q. A lot of brands have started doing webinars, have you joined the bandwagon? What kind of response have you seen around it?

We are participating in a few webinars for sure. We also host fireside chats with industry leaders but currently these can be attended by employees only. We haven’t yet started an in-house webinar series that’s open to all.

Q. Have you seen any changes in consumer behaviour?

Yes, a lot. Consumers have become a lot more aware about the issue. They are taking a lot of measures themselves to ensure safety and hygiene is maintained. The following are the changes:

a. Media Consumption: Usage of TV, OTT has increased
b. Self Care: People are spending a lot of time for fitness and personal care
c. DIY solutions to problems
d. Online Deliveries for essentials have increased
e. Need for self hygiene has increased

Q. How are you utilising this time to upskill your employees? Have you introduced any mental health awareness and/or health care programs?

We have introduced a program called UC Academy within our company wherein the company’s leadership have been taking online sessions for upskilling. The topics are across different functions and problems.

Q. How are you preparing yourself for when things come back to normal? Because we think it will not be the same.

Things won’t be the same as before for sure, at least not until a vaccine or cure is found. I believe as a company we have already taken several measures with respect to partner and consumer safety, such as introducing an 8-step safety process for each service category. Apart from this, we have procured and delivered safety kits (comprising gloves, masks, eye goggles, hand sanitiser) for all our partners and will continue to invest in this round the year.