View from the C-Suite: Where SkipTheDishes sees potential for growth

With half of the market share, the delivery app is exploring new purchase occasions.

Kevin Edwards_SkipTheDishes

This story appeared in Strategy C-Suite, a weekly email briefing on how Canada’s brand leaders are responding to market challenges and acting on new opportunities. Sign-up for the newsletter here to receive the latest stories directly to your inbox every Tuesday.

Winnipeg-based SkipTheDishes again returned to television screens in 2018, shortly after Kevin Edwards joined the food delivery app as CMO.

The company, now owned by the U.K.’s Just Eat, first began advertising on TV in 2017, five years after its 2012 debut. Its current marketing platform, led by Arrivals + Departures and featuring actor Jon Hamm, is one of the first pieces of work to be handled externally. It works with UM on media.

SkipTheDishes is working more closely with agency partners, but the CEO admits to being a “very involved” client, because “it’s hard to let go when the brand was developed and raised in-house.”

As seen in SkipTheDishes’ newest spot “Being Young is Hard” – which aired during this year’s Super Bowl – the overall platform attempts to give the brand a bigger voice to help it differentiate in a competitive market that includes UberEats, DoorDash, and other players, Edwards says.

Now CEO, Edwards has overseen growth in Skip’s marketing department, still nestled within company headquarters in Winnipeg. Just last month, it added Cheryl Radisa in the new role of VP marketing. “It’s amazing how much talent we’ve been able to attract and grow in Winnipeg,” Edwards says. “That’s something that is unique, something we’re very proud of.”

How has your marketing strategy evolved over time, and what are you focused on today? 

We launched in 2012, and in the very early days, it was really about education. The concept of opening up your phone and ordering food to your door was unique, so there was a lot of education in the early days. Lately, our focus has been evolving our brand voice. What was most important was that our brand reflect our culture. We don’t take ourselves too seriously; we work hard, but we do retain a sense of humour, and what was really exciting for us was to be able to deliver that narrative through Jon Hamm and our “You Deserve Great Delivery” campaign [from 2018].

One of the important parts of our strategy is to be there in the big moments and to be there in the moments where Canadians gather. We have developed some really important sports sponsorships. We’re in most of the NHL arenas, CFL and other properties. Those big moments when people gather is the perfect opportunity for us to showcase our brand and to create a call to action. A need is created when you’re sitting around getting ready for the Super Bowl.

Where do you expect to see the most growth going forward? 

In the early days of this category, it was exciting to be able to order from one of your local restaurants in your neighborhood, [but] your choices before may have been pizza or the other usual takeout offering. It’s moved from something that was kind of unique and exciting – maybe a bit of a luxury – to really everyday life now. It’s an important convenience offering and it’s becoming a core part of people’s lives.

What’s happening is occasions – people are looking at food delivery for breakfast and late in the evening; they’re looking for group ordering. [There are] many more occasions where customers could be opening up their app and hitting the Skip button. We need to explore those; we need to work on our data, understand our market and use insights to help grow the business. Everything from group ordering to breakfast are opportunities that we need to explore and possibly down the road our platform could be used for other products and categories, and that’s something that is on our radar as well.

One study found you have roughly 25% market share, which would make you the leader in Canada. How do you maintain that market leadership position in such a competitive space?

We have about double that; we have just slightly less than 50% of the market. There’s no doubt we’ve got some very well-financed, global competitors. But what’s important is this category is growing very strongly. In Canada, food delivery is over a $4 billion industry that is projected to [grow] 15% year-over-year.

The way we have approached the market is to differentiate. We’re a Canadian brand, and we celebrate that. That’s really the key message out of those Jon Hamm spots [in several iterations of the platform Hamm plays a "wannabe Canadian."] But what also is important is that we have the best assortment. We have 23,000 restaurants. We’ve added 4,000 in just the past year, and we focus on continuing to build out the most efficient delivery platform. And then we’ve got to continue to invest in our brand and our brand voice and support that awareness that’s critical [to success].

What’s the biggest challenge facing your business today?

It’s a three-sided marketplace, [with] couriers, customers and restaurants. And the challenge of our business is to keep all of them in balance, to be able to deliver to customers the choice and the convenience for restaurants that help them grow their business and for couriers to continue to help them take advantage of flexible earning opportunities. So keeping all of that in balance is critical for our category. Network efficiency is really the basis of the customer experience. When you have the best restaurants and you deliver that most efficiently, you’re going to have a winning value proposition.

This interview is part of a series for Strategy C-Suite, a weekly email briefing on how Canada’s brand leaders are responding to market challenges and acting on new opportunities. Sign-up for the newsletter here to receive the latest stories directly to your inbox every Tuesday.

The interview has been edited for length and clarity.