Why the closure of HungryGoWhere was an inevitable result
Singtel-owned HungryGoWhere.com announced its closure earlier this week after 15 years serving Singapore’s food industry. The brand will operate until July 11, 2021 and will be taken offline at the end of the day. His Facebook post “Goodbye” received more than 143 reactions, 29 comments and 91 shares with many netizens bidding the brand farewell with crying emojis and expressions of gratitude for its service. His Instagram post received a more dramatic response from users with over 2,123 likes and 140 comments at the time of writing. Many Instagram users have expressed how grateful they are for his service.
While the decision to shut down HungryGoWhere.com may have come as a surprise to many users, former marketer and founder of Wong Mei Wai, CEO and chief change catalyst of APAC Global Advisory said the “bold move” reflected changing times and the needs of today’s consumers who have left the mark in “no man’s land”. The bright side, however, is that the move may now allow the parent company to focus on its core business and other sustainable digital innovations that may weather the pandemic.
Wong said, “COVID-19 has forced many companies around the world to reassess their business portfolios to ensure the fit and focus are there to stay sustainable.”
In many cases, companies that were on the edge have seen leaderships pressured into making tough decisions. Businesses needed to be strategically reviewed from the point of view of their fitness, sustainability and profitability. Those who left the decisions in limbo sometimes found themselves with few options beyond the fence.
“While HungerGoWhere has its roots in the digital delivery of food review content, and has even expanded to include food offers and reservations, its focus has remained primarily in on-site dining and specific to SingTel user offerings, ”a said Wong. However, over the years the space has quickly been occupied by many other players offering similar offerings.
Adding to the conversation, Nishant Kaushal, hAudience DNA’s (ADNA) Data, Strategy and Solutions Manager said that as a service HungryGoWhere.com was not able to adapt quickly enough to changing industry food, and the changes in COVID-19 did not help the situation.
“Apps like Chope have quickly adapted to the new realities of COVID-19 by rapidly adapting its technology and resources to cope with the changing landscape,” Kaushan said. These apps have started to provide delivery solutions for restaurants and new take-out food offerings. While new additions to services by competitors have been phased in, they have gained momentum over the past year and a half.
Kaushal also added that ADNA’s measurement of the upward trend in Singaporeans eating in the past year showed that 32% of those surveyed now cook more at home and 25% find it difficult to eat out. outdoors due to COVID-19 restrictions. COVID-19 breaker height last year, the search for “food delivery” was six times greater than it was in 2006 – the year HungryGoWhere was born. Additionally, in the same study, 33% of Singaporeans said they also expected to eat less in restaurants in the future.
While dining out in Singapore was considered an experience, today the function has become more functional. In May 2021, the search volume for “restaurants” was down 88% from 2006. During the same period, the search for “restaurant reviews” fell by more than 90%.
“The astronomical increase in restaurant reservation and delivery apps over the past five years is capitalizing on this shift in focus and consumer habits and has likely contributed to the demise of the brand,” Kaushal said.
Ranga Somanathan, co-founder and curator of RSquared Global Ventures, said the fate of HungryGoWhere is due to the “global consolidation and corporate restructuring” which led to the reassessment of non-core businesses by Singtel. Somanathan, who previously worked with Sintel as a media agency partner while he was CEO of OMG, said:
Rather than working with a solution that is not strategic for future growth and shareholder value, closing this operation will free up management’s time to refocus on the opportunities that 5G brings and the investments it requires. .
Revisiting the acquisition of HungryGoWhere by SingTel, Somanathan said that thanks to the acquisition, HungryGoWhere would immediately gain momentum. However, given the competitive pressure and lack of iterations to keep the solution relevant, it ceded its strong position to several platforms that have since come into play.
Somanathan added that the ambition of making HungryGoWhere a “super-app” that curated content and experiences in the restaurant scene, hosted within InSing, were all strong Singtel strategies – and would have helped to accelerate the growth of the brand. Additionally, Singtel is also likely to have benefited from the acquisition through the culture, talent and potential PIs who are redeployed within the parent organization.
“For an acquisition to be successful, the partnership must align on several fronts. It cannot be plug and play. Synchronization of cultures, alignment of leadership styles and values, operational protocols and phased strategies are essential to align. Without resolving these potential conflicts, the success rates of such medium- and long-term investments plummet, ”Somanathan added.
Understanding the different approaches a brand’s team should take, Wong said the trait of agility should be present in any approach. “This requires teams capable of constantly refining its offers and consumption paths, supported by a sustainable brand and business model. To operate in this F&B space a targeted brand with a notoriety and a clear positioning, supported by a business model and a commitment to the right resources (people and funding), as well as strong support from key traders and the innovation, are critical to success, ”Wong said.