The use of so-called “gig economy” businesses, such as food-delivery providers, ride-hailing services, and online travel-rental marketplaces, has been increasing significantly over the past several years, with use of food-delivery brands growing even more exponentially during COVID-19. The rising popularity of this business model has led to a more competitive landscape and a need for individual brands to differentiate themselves.
As a result, over the past year and a half or so, companies in this sector have started to enter into partnerships with third-party IP and/or put their own brand names on merchandise. Most of these efforts to date have taken the form of promotions, collaborations, or in-house product development.
- Grab, a Singapore-based ride-hailing company, partnered this month with the Thailand-based global fashion label Pomelo for a capsule collection available in Singapore, Malaysia, and Thailand. Sold through Pomelo’s e-commerce site and app, the clothing pays tribute to the service’s drivers and restaurant partners for their front-line work during the pandemic, with 10% of proceeds going to initiatives that support those groups. Pomelo is an online-only direct-to-consumer fast-fashion label.
- Doordash, a food-delivery service, launched a limited-edition board game for ages 3 and up called Doordash Superyum! in December 2020. The project capitalized on the flourishing demand for board games during the pandemic and, according to the company, was meant to bring people together in a meaningful way and spark conversation about different cultures. The game, in which players move their pieces through a variety of cuisines until they reach the ultimate goal of delivery, was available for $9.99 in DashMart, a convenience-store-like part of the Doordash app, in 14 markets; the first 100 customers to order in each market received the game for free.
- Food-delivery company Postmates partnered with K-pop group Blackpink last October for an ice cream-themed promotion to highlight the group’s latest album, which includes a song called Ice Cream, featuring Selena Gomez. Postmates Unlimited members could enter a contest to win prize packs worth $100 that contained items from the Blackpink Ice Cream Chillin’ collection, including two exclusive t-shirts, a bucket hat, and socks.
- Online vacation rental marketplace Airbnb partnered with Mattel back in 2019 to create a real-life Barbie Malibu Dreamhouse and make it available for a one-time, $60, two-night rental for four guests. The home on the beach recreated the pink décor of the toy Dreamhouse and included a pool, meditation zone, hobby room, personal cinema, and more. The stay included activities with celebrities who have careers that Barbie has also had over the years; they included fencer Ibtihaj Muhammed and pilot and aerospace engineer Jill Meyers, among others. The promotion was tied to Barbie’s 60th anniversary.
Food-delivery, online rental, and ride-hailing services have traditionally been popular with young adults, but they increasingly serve a wider variety of consumers, including older demographics (especially in the case of food delivery). Thus many properties have potential for promotions or collaborations involving gig-economy companies such as these, especially if tied to a specific event or milestone such as a championship, anniversary, or entertainment release.
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