13 is a lucky number for some people and so it proved to be for the Romanian independent agency Grapefruit that started its journey on the Romanian market 20 years ago, on November 13th. From the initial approach, offering branding services, the agency decided to go towards another direction and became a fully digital one. BR talked with Georgiana Dragomir, managing director Grapefruit and found out more about the agency’s path and the trends in the industry in the past and today.
By Romanita Oprea
How has the agency developed during its 20 years?
There were four important decisions that we took in the past 20 years. The first decision was to remove the branding services from our services and keep only digital. We did this because we believed that digital is the future and branding will be covered by more & more agencies and do-it-yourself tools.
The second decision for Grapefruit to become a user experience agency came along with creating new competencies and roles inside our agency, which helped us to create and deliver new services to our business partners.
Moreover, last year we passed another milestone by reaching EUR 1,000,000 in revenue. This signaled us that our partners & clients trust us and the decision to go fully digital has been fully justified. From a small company, Grapefruit reached a team of 35 people that is willing to embrace any digital challenge that is up to date with all the trends and technologies in order to offer its clients the best possible solutions. At the same time, the fact that we remained an independent agency in a pool of multinationals, represented a benefit, both for us and our clients.
Last but not least, this year Grapefruit we celebrated 20 years of activity. After two decades, we are still growing, performing, and we are going to continue to do this.
How would you say that the digital industry changed from then to now?
There was no abrupt change. The industry evolved in time and the difference resides in the rate of the change. We had the opportunity to be pioneers of the digital industry and its evolution was not surprising. In the past few years, we did notice a higher rate of digital adoption from companies of all sizes. Companies invest higher budgets in what they believe in, and they have been investing more in the digital area.
Change is never easy. How was Grapefruit able to make the leap from digital & branding to only digital and product launch?
The leap we made hasn’t been as suddenly as people might think. Indeed, we made this switch in under a year, but it came naturally. We were expecting this, we had a smart transition plan and it all worked out for the best in the end.
What is one thing you haven’t changed?
One of the main pillars for Grapefruit is the investment in the organizational culture because the essence of the agency is in its people. We have a passionate team, up to date with all the new technology and for which the inspiration comes in the work and the study in a relaxed environment.
Therefore, that determined us to develop new competences in order to anticipate and satisfy the clients’ needs and this approach has always proven a successful one. We will keep on investing in our teams and supporting them, helping them grow and become better and better, as individuals as well. We represent an agency that thinks and acts long term.
What are the main trends in the industry right now?
I will name just 5 for the moment: video mapping, podcasting, chatbots, content customization, and influencer marketing.
The social media platform users are consumers always wanting content as original as possible and more and more interactive. Therefore, the videos become a valuable tool for digital marketers in capturing the consumers’ attention and in attracting possible new ones. The consumers tend to be attracted more and more by brands that offer a customized experience. The individual content, well-targeted proved to be an efficient strategy in loyalizing the consumer.
What about the user-generated content?
Marketers are using this type of content in order to promote products and services because they see it’s a trend that is actually working. The brands are challenging their consumers to interact with them in campaigns, to take part in contests where the winners are chosen based on their interactions with the brand. Moreover, brands are also reposting some of the user-generated content they see and they like and they reward this type of engagement.
When you are looking towards 2020, what clients is Grapefruit targeting?
We are looking towards three main categories of clients in 2020. Within Romania, we are working with corporations that want to explore and create innovative projects in the digital area. We create for them MVPs in the business and marketing area and also optimize and automate various business processes. We are also open to working with medium-sized companies, whose projects we find challenging and interesting. In the international market, we are looking to collaborate with corporations as well as medium-sized companies in industries such as energy, retail, and FMCG.
If you were to comment on it, how would you characterize the digital advertising industry in Romania today?
It’s very interesting to see this process of steady growth in the digital advertising industry. We are glad that now there’s an agency for every type of client. This shows us that the industry is gradually maturing and, at the same time, competition is higher which forces us to become better in our field and this is good for everyone involved.
What do you wish for 2020 from the agency?
I wish and hope everything will grow as sustainable as before and to expand a bit more internationally. We want to explore more of the CEE region and I want the agency to grow without losing its principles and values along the way. I believe it’s better to grow steady and constantly without losing the level of quality you deliver, rather than growing incredibly fast in one year and losing everything even faster.