Case Study

VELO beats sales target by 150% amid COVID-19 lockdown

Indonesian nicotine brand sets industry benchmark via first fully-digital launch

The Scope

Jakarta is home to three million young, progressive smokers, but the coronavirus pandemic led to a city-wide lockdown that prevented them from enjoying the nicotine kick they were used to. 

It was in a time of COVID-19 that VELO, the first nicotine pouch in Indonesia, was born. As a smoke-free and odourless product, customers can fulfil their craving for nicotine anywhere at their convenience. As a new brand in an of unheard category, VELO needed to help consumers build a new habit as well as to be seen as an alternative for progressive smokers.

Due to various lockdown measures, VELO had no choice but to launch digitally. But a careful strategy was needed as VELO is a new nicotine product in its own category, and there are tight regulations imposed on cigarette marketing. As the brand that would pave the way for the nicotine pouch category in Indonesia, all eyes were on VELO.

At the same time, VELO needed to conduct trials and sampling to attract new customers. Physical sampling—one of the most popular and effective ways to consumers to try new cigarette products—was off-limits. VELO had to do customer trials digitally, in a market where 95% of cigarette purchase happens offline.

In addition, VELO was keen on a target audience that was open to new experiencesThe brand was also looking to connect with early adoptersbut instead of treating them as one homogenous group, we relied on our proprietary Data Management Platform (DMP), XACT, to find the five most receptive personas: 


Fitness Junkie: want a cleaner alternative


Young Families: concerned about their kid's health


First Jobbers: want to avoid smoking in front of their family members during work-from-home


Gamers: a hands-free nicotine product to keep playing with


Trend-setters: want to be the first

And on top of launching VELO, we also wanted to introduce a new category.The key messages therefore didn’t focus solely on the brand, but they also emphasised educational elements to introduce VELO to the public. 

The Strategy

VELO launch was the first nicotine-pouch product to launch in Indonesia, as well as and the first 100% digital launch within the cigarette industry.  

We divided our digital-led execution into four parts: 

  • AWARENESS. To build anticipation, we launched the hashtag #VELOsofi on social media without mentioning VELO. #VELOsofi challenged people to try new things and be unconventional, mirroring VELO’s brand personality. As curiosity peaked, we translated VELOs brand message into the campaign #LanjutTerus—highlighting its USP of providing a nicotine kick anytime, anywhere, and without interruption. 
  • EDUCATE. To comply with the strict rules around cigarette marketing, we used POP, SET, GO!* to educate the market about the steps of consuming VELO. (Pop – opening a VELO’s can, Set – put the pouch in your mouth, Go – keep going)  
  • DRIVE TRIALS. We split the channels by persona and came up with hundreds of creative visuals. Utilising paid ads, we conducted A/B testing to test for which creative and channel were the most effective for each persona. 
  • PURCHASE. Based on each persona’s response to our ads, we drove them to the webstore or eCommerce platform and used CRM tools to nurture leads with follow-up emails. 

 All marketing communications were fully digital—including mobile. The five VELO personas, which consisted of early adopters and trendsetters, were mobile-first consumers. The entire campaign was fully-optimised for mobile including designing thumb-stopping creatives and ensuring all landing pages were mobile-friendly. 

By leveraging on the capabilities of ADA’s XACT DMP, we also hyper-personalized VELO’s collaterals to better fit the different audiences. 

That targeted strategy – based on consumers’ real-life mobile behaviours and content consumption patterns – minimised conversion cost per consumer and. It ensured they were served the right content at the optimal time.  

Media Strategy

The key messages were delivered through various platforms, a specific objective for each one 

  • Facebook & GDN: to reach  
  • Instagram & YouTube: to engage  
  • Trade Desk: for experimenting (there are less restrictions to talk about the product here). 

Having no baseline, we started from zero by A/B testing for each persona. In the end, VELO implemented hundreds of visuals using a dynamic persona-driven approach.  

The Results

The launch exceeded its target and scored VELO a 6.4% engagement rate 6x better than other tobacco brands. According to SocialBakers, the average engagement rate for tobacco brands in Indonesia is less than 1%. 

ADA’s end-to-end strategy and data-driven micro-segmenting succeeded in hitting the right target audience and achieving: 

  • 150% more purchases than the target. 
  • 150% more Instagram followers than the target. 
  • 31.5M reach (4.4% more than the target), 326M impressions (2.8% more), 2.1M clicks (9% more) 
  • 15K Facebook Page likes (on target) 



in purchase



in Instagram followers



in weekly transactions



on Facebook page

In the future, ADA’s XACT platform, will continue to play a significant role in profiling the exact audience segment for VELO’s products or services. 

In a country where 95% of tobacco products are bought offline, ADA devised an end-to-end strategy to drive the online purchase of VELO while simultaneously launching a new product category. It also exceeded the targets by 150%—even during a pandemic and amid strict regulations. 

The success of the campaign sets a benchmark for a fully digital launch in the cigarette industry, and it also sets the standard for future launches from other brands in the same category. 

VELO managed to raise awareness on its nicotine pouch, from 0 to 44% within the 6-month campaign. The SEO trend chart from September 2020 (0%) also showed how the graph raised 5,000%.