Hugo, which opened its Kingston leg in January 2021, operated in the capital city and Portmore.

On April 30, the service delivery app Hugo will cease its operations in Jamaica.

A termination memo sent last week revealed that, based on its acquisition by German giant Delivery Hero, it would close its doors. A sad state of affairs, albeit, but with every challenge comes opportunity.

Here are a few options for fast food brand experience and consumer data:

Client Data & Communications

As Hugo's operations come to an expected end, one can't help but wonder what will happen to all that client data. The Data Protection Act (DPA) legislation, which goes live on December 1 this year, provides protection and privacy for personal information of Jamaicans. Whilst it will not go into effect in time for the company's departure, it brings to light the need for companies to be explicit in communications as to how it intends to use consumer data once operations cease.

Hugo, which opened its Kingston leg in January 2021, operated in the capital city and Portmore. It further spread its wings to service the second city, Montego Bay. These cities, in the context of the novel coronavirus pandemic, in 2021, were abuzz with food delivery; if users located in these areas registered for the app that would mean significant personal data is currently available on their local servers.

The suggested strategy: Communicate on the current methods Hugo employs in the use of customer information, specifically for situations such as this, an acquisition. It augurs well for the brand to do so, informing them of the next steps as they bring the local customer journey to a close.

As noted in the agreement, each user signs upon registering, "In these cases (an acquisition, etc), Hugo will only provide the strictly necessary information and in compliance with the legal guidelines established by the applicable legislation on the transfer of personal data."

Users should rest assured knowing that if they need to remove their personal data or deactivate their account, such a provision has already been made available according to the referred policy.

It states: "The user may access the information of its account at any moment as well as request access, update, modification, and elimination of the information contained on it, free of charge."

It further states: "Regarding any other matter related to the protection of personal data, you can contact us through our e-mail address or through the telephone lines available in the 'Contact us' section of the Hugo web portal."

As data breaches can happen at any moment, it is imperative that, while still in operation, Hugo ends with excellence. But what does their imminent departure mean for local delivery operators?

Digital Opportunities for Growth

Suggested strategy: Brands ideally should review sales data to see the correlation between the Hugo app and how profitable it has been as opportunities exist to do the deliveries themselves. If already started, they can also continue outsourcing to other service delivery providers.

Option one may take some time to implement, as it brings many forces into play, such as the readiness of a company to build and operate their own app; sourcing additional staff such as riders, back and front end developers, plus personnel that can manage service quality. That aside, it serves brands in the long run to own and manage the daily data of their app sales transactions.

Note too that the data acquired by Hugo, unique to each brand's transactions, could be beneficial in many ways if brands are seeking to build out their customer relationship management (CRM) database in order to grow the capacity of their business' intelligence to make strategic decisions.

Business Intelligence

Though many fast and convenience food companies may have no issues attracting customers, players such as KFC would do well as they seek to elevate their brand experience digitally, having a more personal connection with customers in order to truly understand their needs and map the customer's lifetime value versus having digital transactions done solely via a third-party delivery app. Data such as when, how often, and under what circumstances consumers make a purchase via app, especially if it forms a unique pattern, can alert the brand which could trigger unique personal offers to qualified customers based on their activity, incentivising their purchase.

KFC Jamaica also uses WhatsApp ordering, but just imagine a full build-out of a local KFC app, delivering a better user experience, connecting you when and where you need your meals. Other local brands have done it, so the exit of Hugo may signal the necessity to do the same very soon.

Next Steps

Just as Hugo had special offers for seasonal, weekly, and celebratory days, brands should keep the same gusto to ensure that customers get the best value whenever they interact with the digital sales touchpoints going forward, whether via a third-party app or via a resource they own.

As many thoughts now arise as to why, in such a seemingly profitable market, would an acquisition give way to the exit of Hugo, the brand said in 2021: "The acquisition is a strategic move by both companies to boost their growth in Central America." Jamaica is not in the picture.

That being said, it is up to existing local providers to meet the gap of Hugo's exit, as there are present and profitable opportunities that would be very beneficial to all stakeholders involved.

Until next time, think digital-first.

Shane G Bennett is a martech and marcomms professional specialising in digital transformation, corporate communications, social media solutions, and brand management for SMEs, non-profits, and multinational companies. You may contact him via e-mail at

Shane G Bennett

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