Book rental Chegg’s user-focus is the key to an $800m valuation


If you live outside the US you probably hadn’t heard of textbook-rental company Chegg until news of its impending IPO hit publications like the Bookseller. The announcement caught my eye because I had spent time researching the company – and in particular how it engages with customers and satisfies their needs – for a recent client project. The answer isn’t rocket science: what makes Chegg stand out in an increasingly crowded marketplace is its focus on students. Here’s what I said about Chegg’s marketing approach in my article for BookMachine this month:

It wasn’t just Chegg’s easy-to-use service and low pricing that appealed to cash-strapped students. The company’s eye-catching, mouth-watering and eco-friendly marketing efforts included packaging their books in distinctive orange boxes, giving away coffee and free burritos, and planting a tree for every rental order it processed.

The company mascot Shelly (so named because she’s big, white, round and a little cracked – are you getting the ‘egg’ in Chegg yet?) may have been pretty hard to miss out on campus, but in order to drive actual sales Chegg also created a brand ambassador scheme. Thousands of students signed up to be ‘Chegg Champions’ [since renamed Chegg Campus Crew], encouraging their classmates to use the service while becoming part of a community Chegg supported with online resources, marketing webinars and personal advice. Here’s one student’s view of life as a Chegg Champion:

For a company that’s now expanding its offer from simple textbook rental to connecting students with just about everything they could need, that student focus is key. Along with an effective service and strong brand, its helped Chegg reach a valuation most recently quoted as $800m. And that’s before it’s even made a profit.

To find out more about what Chegg’s doing right, read the full ‘From Small Eggs Grow Mighty IPOs’ article at BookMachine.

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