Seeing, Listening, Understanding: The Story on How We Start Our Rebranding

Daniya Rachmadiani
Apr 28, 2020 · 7 min read

In 2020, Bukalapak entered a new phase of its journey. A journey to stay relevant to the aspiring middle and low class of Indonesia. To do this, Bukalapak took a giant step to rejuvenate its brand with a new expression, new style and new logo. However, unlike our much beloved shopping experience, our rebranding was not settled in one click. Before we could create the new face you see today, there were several steps we had to take. The very first step is the one we will retell through this article how our research effort created an empathy-driven lens for all stakeholders to agree on a single brand positioning.

To make any brand proposition that’s meaningful, it needs to accurately reflect its target customer. That’s why, our first objective was to bring stakeholders into a first hand experience of our customers’ lives. We encouraged them to understand better: What is really happening with our customers physically and emotionally? What are things they want to accomplish more than anything in life and why? What are their biggest obstacles hindering their achievements in life?

With these in mind, the research team conducted a qualitative research approach which we called Exploration stage. In this approach, we offered our team and stakeholders a window into our customer lives, by inviting them to join a face-to-face interview with our customers. The output of this research was the creation of customer personas which later are being used to create in-depth output based on our stakeholder’s respective team.

These personas depict our customer demographic, as well as psychographic conditions such as their age, occupation, work and living environment, emotional and functional life aspirations (and also the frustrations), and their personalities. It also included their level of technology adoption, shopping habits and behavioural drivers, which focused on their transition from offline to online shopping. If you wonder how we did this, sit back as we take you through the process.

Planning

  1. Defining the target market

Defining our target market is the foundational part of all research. As Bukalapak is an e-commerce company, our customers are mainly sellers and buyers. Since our latest initiative is to empower UMKM (small medium business/SME), we also talked to owners, whom we warmly called as Mitra Bukalapak.

2. Designing the research script

We designed our script with careful considerations of challenges that might come with this study. We were mostly concerned about communication issues where participants are unable to accurately articulate their thoughts and emotions. Regarding that, our research script was supported with stimuli and emphasized on the use of interactive and projective techniques. Here are the methods we’ve been used:

SENTENCE COMPLETION EXERCISE

Example of incomplete statements we gave to our participants.

Together we went through a list of incomplete sentences and asked the participants to complete it into something that resonates best with them. This method helped participants articulate their answer, since they only need to choose a word or phrases to best describe themselves within a particular context. If needed, we could ask follow up questions for each completed sentence.

LIFE ASPIRATIONS CARD

Cards being used during our research

We created a set of cards about various life aspirations that refers to the Rokeach Value Inventory. Participants then chose 3 cards and ranked those based on a scale of importance. We asked follow up questions regarding their choice and prioritization of the cards.

STORYTELLING COLLAGE

Illustration of how storytelling collage is done by our participants

Participants were asked to pick pictures from magazine clippings that resonated the most with their dreams and aspirations. Since this was a very interactive session, it provided a help to re-engage participants.

Conducting

In this phase, we invited various functions leaders and team members to join us during the home visit as observers. We were joined by several functions such as: creative, brand, marketing, and design; ranging from junior level up to Vice Presidents. Aside from the research team, this is their first time seeing our customer in a flesh. That being said, not only we needed to prepare our research script and tools, we also had to brief our observers, particularly on how to dress themselves for this occasion.

Our former AVP of Creative, who were joining us for the research, dressed himself according to our brief (even better than we expected)

We created a handbook that guides them on what to wear (a casual t-shirt is a must, so the participants won’t be intimidated), what they should do if they have questions, and how they need to organize their notes during the study. This guidance might sound silly, possibly even invading someone’s space. But considering the immersive context of this research, this level of attention to detail was necessary.

Lastly, to ensure our daily debriefs were always on time, we made notes on our findings in a framework with topical sections.

Our researchers, visual creative team member and AVP of Brand are listening to what a participant said.
Our team conducting interview with warung owner at the back of their store.

During the sessions, we encountered some challenges. At the beginning, we found that some of our participants’ homes and shops were not conducive for a prolonged interview, due to the loud traffic situation around the premises, curious neighbors who were watching us as if we’re doing a TV interview, having children who were crying for attention and constant customer arrivals (up to every 5 minutes!). To overcome those interruptions, we handled them case by case. For instance, we tackled the crying kid problem by having one of the observers voluntarily play with the participant’s child.

Despite our efforts to build rapport, there were interesting cases where participants looked anxious while talking with us. We presumed it was because they are not used to talking about themselves to some strangers. In an attempt to break the ice, we had a peek at what kind of cigarette the participant smoked, bought the same brand, and shared the pack throughout the interview. Vit worked! They became more open and welcoming, thus the discussion went smoothly.

Analyzing

Several days after the last fieldwork, we created a report to sum up our findings, which was essential to lay the ground rules in determining our potential brand positioning territories. We then worked together with an external agency to lead the brand positioning workshop attended by wider divisions of Bukalapak. The early participation of all stakeholders at this stage is imperative to ensure that the proposition is executable from both product and marketing perspectives.

To validate the most compelling territory, we also had to do one more qualitative focus group discussion, right after completing exercises on the workshop. Finally, we arrived at one proposition: Bukalapak enables people to achieve sustainable living in a fun way! Next step would be translating this value not only through our brand logo and tagline, but also the way we work as a company.

Some steps we did in the workshop to translate our research insights into brand positioning.
Breakdown detail on how the workshops were done. We invited some other functions such as business and product from various business tribe to give wider perspectives as well as sharpened our brand positioning concepts.

Our new brand was the result of endless listening to what Indonesians aspire in every day of their life and discovering ways as a company to help those people achieve their hopes and dreams. Through this effort, we hope that we can now resonate better with our customers and be able to bring a fairer economy for all. It was an arduous yet exciting process we’ve gone through. We learned a lot of things, from conducting productive home visits to doing ‘hacks’ to overcome the challenges during fieldwork. Through this article, we hope you also learned a thing or two. Have you ever made customer personas for your company? How did it go? Let’s share and discuss in the comment section!

Bukalapak #bikinasik Indonesia!

Our behind-the-scene team :)

Special thanks to my fellow researchers who were responsible for this project and co-authoring this Medium post: Putu Ayu Gayatri, Wigy Ramadhan, and Radhy Ampera. A special thanks goes to our friend from the Research Operation team, Bertrand Leimena, who has been helping us with the preparation of the research, as well as reviewing our post together with our Medium editor Purna Anantha.

Bukalapak Design

Empowering users towards a fair economy through design, voice and experience.