What Market Research Says About Uber Growth

Uber takes a hard look before launching into a new market

Chaffeur Holding the Car Door for a Happy Business Man
••• Getty Images | Rob Meinychuk | Photodisc

Selection of logos, taglines, and brand names is a fundamental contribution of market researchers and marketers to brand development.  The ride-sharing company, Uber, is a prime example of how careful creative choices can influence consumer brand awareness and impact brand lift.

The word “uber” originated in the German language and is pronounced in one of two ways.

In English, the word is pronounced [oo-ber].  But in German, uber is pronounced as [y-buh r] or [ub?r].  The “r” is pronounced as in a gargoyle.

Once you can say the word, you need to distinguish between the two common word usages.  Uber is used as an adverb and as an adjective.

Adverb

  1. having the specified property to an extreme or excessive degree; very:

We are going to an uber expensive restaurant.

Adjective

  1. designating a person or thing that exceeds the norms or limits of its kind or class:

If you hang out with them, you’ll be known as an uber intellectual.

Ground Transportation When and Where You Need It

Whether “Uber” means transportation everywhere to you, or the best version of ground transportation, the marketing, and growth strategy of Uber is fascinating.  In addition, Uber presents a case study in a sharing start-up launch. Consider the selectivity that Uber communicates by marketing in one city at a time. 

The buzz and anticipation generated by expanding to one, two, or three city markets in a year is a lynchpin of the success Uber has experienced.  Local press coverage from city newspapers and television stations is focused on the expansion of Uber into these – their own - select towns.  Paid media advertising will also want to get in on the game of exclusivity.  Soon, the pink mustache on the front of the Lyft cars or the glowing decal on the windshields of the Uber designated cars become familiar through the local promotion.

 

Market Research Provides Search for Optimal Market Profile for Uber

When moving into a new city market, Uber uses market research to determine the probability of success and establish the degree of need for their ground transportation services.  Below are a number of key factors that Uber market researchers consider and look for in a potential new market.

  • Does the new community market lack public transportation and taxi cabs, or does the community experience some constraints on ground transportation?  Two examples illuminate this situation: In the Boston market, the subway closes before the demand for it ends.  In New York City, the count of taxis is limited by municipal regulations that only issue so many medallions, which are required for taxicabs to do business within the city limits.
  • Do the current competitors offer primarily low quality and unresponsive service with respect to customer needs. An example of poor service quality is not accepting or welcoming credit cards to pay for rides.
  • Do the regulatory agencies in the market attempt to prevent or constrain the supply of alternative transportation? And are the regulatory agencies unable to enforce compliance with the codes, being forced to ignore non-compliance due to the absolute number of offenders and the limited number of policing resources?.
  • Does the new market location have affordable high-speed mobile coverage for customers to contact Uber drivers for rides?
  • Does the market promise a sufficiently large population density of workers who do not own personal vehicles or do not use their cars in the city?
  • Does the target market population show evidence of high disposable income that encourages the regular and sustained use of Uber services?
  • Does the target market population in the community show evidence of a high number of smartphones in use on city streets and locations?
  • What opportunity exists for Uber expansion into cities where other ride-sharing competitors have conditioned the target market and are gaining traction?
  • In smaller towns and locations, are colleges or universities present?
  • Are the existing ground transportation options in the target market perceived as unsafe, and are they actually not safe?

    All of this market research information is important and the answers to these questions can make or break a launch into a new city.  That said, Travis Kalanick, co-founder of Uber, is emphatic on this point: 

    "Being local and speaking with local voice is important when you're doing transportation and means you know what's going on for the city."