Grapefruit is a user experience agency focused on solving business problems and making end-users happy. Launched in 1999, the agency representatives are devoted to finding the best solutions for your business by mixing marketing, design, user experience and business knowledge and skills. In 2017, Grapefruit won 71% more pitchs than in 2016, having them bringing eight new clients and taking the total number of clients at 16. 2018 represented a stabilization year for the agency with a growth of 20% in profit. At the same time, Grapefruit is not only interested in the financial side of the market, but also contributes to the education of the local industry, by organizing each year WIAD – World Information Architecture Day.
AdHugger talked with Georgiana Dragomir, Managing Director at Grapefruit, about the agency’s 2018, the local market and trends, and at the same time about how she perceives 2019 and a possible new economic crisis.
How was 2018 for the agency?
For Grapefruit and our partners, 2018 was the year of business innovation. We launched an auto e-commerce platform and two other ones for a manufacturing client: one to increase consumer loyalty and the other to improve their logistics. We also launched several digital communication projects for clients in FMCG, Energy and Banking.
All of these were recognized internationally and are taken as a standard for future projects. We also offered digital consulting at an international level and extended our digital services abroad.
How was the pitches situation?
Based on our experience, we discovered that long term partnerships between agency and client are the ones that bring true business innovation, results and are less risky for both parties. That’s why, when we found a client that wanted to create a solution for their business challenge we passed the pitch stage and went on to working together directly. In cases where we found only an unilateral relationship, we decided to part ways from the beginning.
How would you characterize the local digital advertising industry in 2018 in terms of budgets, campaigns, creativity, etc?
The budgets in the industry are growing, the campaigns are getting better and the quality of the digital content is increasing. What I would like to see more is a deeper integration between channels, both on a campaign level and also at a macro communication platform level.
What were the most important changes & novelties in the agency in 2018 and how did they come to happen?
Growth comes with its own challenges and that’s why we are re-organizing the way that we work, communicate and deliver inside the company with the help of experts & consultants in business and process management.
We also launched our product Picard, a conversational form builder aimed at enterprise clients designed to increase conversion rates and create a better user experience in data capturing.
We are also extending our content creating abilities by focusing more on video creation, aimed especially at the social media environment.
Last year you said that 2018 requires a bigger focus on user data analytics than the last year and a more complex and coherent digital strategy. Did that prove to be true?
Yes. We have seen a lot of momentum towards data analytics, especially towards centralizing user information across platforms. The next natural step is to obtain actionable insights that can influence short and long term strategy.
Regarding digital strategy, we see companies taking steps in clarifying their message and online presence. What we advise though is to check if the objective is the right one. We still see a lot of focus on awareness in cases where a bit of attention towards loyalty can reduce churn and bring more benefits.
What were your most wanted services by the clients in 2018?
We have seen growth on all services because we deliver integrated projects that include strategy, content, user experience and development. What we have seen though is an increase in pilot projects that create new services & product offerings or develop new channels of communication & sales.
How did your Social Media Department evolve?
Our Social Media department has grown in matters of design quality and content creation. Based on our marketing strategies that we developed, we manage to adapt and improve constantly.
What were the biggest campaigns /projects you worked on?
We developed e-commerce platforms for the automotive industry & we worked on loyalty and CRM systems for energy providers. All our services and products we delivered were based on well established processes and strategies that we developed in-house.
What were the campaigns you admired in the local industry and why?
The McDonalds – KFC Campaign is genius. Using a mix of their best products to increase sales is a great idea. Also, I think that Spartan’s restaurant chain had a wonderful campaign, to tap into the needs of so many Romanians to raise awareness on the freeway problem in our country. The chain’s owner filmed himself, talking about his own experience with the roads, about how much time he wasted because of the bad driving conditions and finished it off with a symbolic freeway portion that he built with his own money.
What trends did you notice on the local market?
We noticed an increased interest in app development. Big brands want more and more control of their customer’s data, using their own custom platforms.
What types of clients are you looking for in 2019?
We’re looking for large, multinational companies that are digitally oriented, with dedicated budgets and in-house digital departments. We like to take on complex projects that involve all of our services and we want to be partners with our clients, not order takers.
What do you wish for 2019 from this point of view?
We’re focused on providing quality services while growing the company in a sustainable manner. We treasure the stability we have now with our current clients and we want to have the same relationship with our future ones.
What do you wish for the local digital industry this year?
Real impactful projects focused on all the customer & client lifetime cycle.
Do you believe a second economic crisis will come?
The first financial crisis happened mostly because of the market manipulation done by big players like Goldman Sachs. People are still spending money that they have no backing for and automation is replacing human jobs leading to an increasing rate of unemployment.
If so,how will it impact the Romanian PR industry?
More and more companies are affected by the crisis, not only the banks. PR in Romania will be an important asset in order to mitigate crisis such as huge layovers, increased costs, elimination of certain services. It’s also a very good choice because this way you know what you can take out for real without affecting the customers.
What have you learned from the last crisis and how prepared are you for a new one?
We have an emergency fund that is continuously fueled throughout the year. We also grow organically without any type of excess so we can keep things balanced. I would add here that we actively advise our clients not to make huge leaps with huge projects, but to make incremental changes and have a roadmap that leads to a bigger change.