Last week, I attended an American Marketing Association (AMA) luncheon in Tampa to hear Justin Hinote, Senior Marketing Manager for Uber, explain their strategies for marketing to millennials (people born in the early 80’s to the 2000’s).
Justin opened his presentation with a video describing “Uber.” The video went on to explain Uber’s mission statement, which is to provide safe and efficient transportation in a more reliable way in order to get people the things they need. They are in business to help people get food from iconic restaurants in minutes, deliver a package from a local retailer, and take people from here to there; the human stuff.
Justin Hinote, Senior Marketing Manager for Uber
Justin went on to share some examples of their marketing campaigns, which they refer to as UberStunts. These campaigns included stunts like delivering free pets with events that delivered adoptable puppies and kittens to customers, or delivering free magnum ice cream bars, packed in dry ice, across the country. Last summer they launched a campaign where they partnered with the popular late night Tampa food joint, Taco Bus, to deliver 3,000 tacos to the University of South Florida campus between 11:00 a.m. and 1:00 a.m. And, let’s face it, what college kid doesn’t want a taco at 1:00 a.m. after being out all night?
The results are what surprised me. Uber had more than 1,000 unique visitors and over 71,400 requests for a late night taco. 79 Uber users requested tacos more than 100 times each. I’m not sure I would be proud of that figure, but they obtained the engagement they sought. Hinote said students were “pounding on those buttons,” becoming familiar with Uber. The marketing campaign earned Uber 302 new users.
Uber’s marketing team focuses on convenience, authenticity, and trust, and that’s a powerful brand promise when your ideal customer is a millennial. Uber is translating basic human experiences into what the company calls “Uber Magic.”
In December 2015, Uber picked up its one billionth passenger. It took the company five years to reach that milestone. Six months later, they picked up their second billionth rider.
It is amazing that Uber started out as an idea on a cold and lonely street in Paris, with no cabs in sight, and has evolved from that basic transportation need into an $18 billion empire. Their focus on the “human stuff” in life and their ability to roll out new services based on what they have learned about human nature is a recipe for success.
Uber is now launching innovative services in select cities, like delivering packages (UberRush) and even a new food delivery service called UberEats. Let’s say you need a ream of paper and some ink for your printer, but don’t have the time to run to the store. UberRush will have it delivered to your office in minutes. UberEats allows users to order takeout food from some of the most iconic restaurants in New York City and have it delivered by an Uber driver within minutes. Think of the working mom or dad who had to work late or was caught in traffic. Consider the cost of real estate for the local restaurant in New York City or San Francisco. One restaurant was able to reduce seating in its restaurant by seventy-five percent because take out requests went through the roof.
Do you live in Atlanta, New York, Dallas, Los Angles, or even Tampa? Who doesn’t live with congestion, right? UberPool is a service only available in larger markets but it allows complete strangers to car pool, reduce costs for the ride, and reduce the number of vehicles on the road in these congested cities. Five cities in central Florida are subsidizing Uber rides in lieu of public transportation.
Part of the company’s success also lies in its partnerships with drivers. Not technically employees, the company still makes a concerted effort to keep the independent contractors who drive for them as happy as possible.
“They are our marketers,” Hinote said. “Our customers (riders) are not talking to me, they’re talking to our driver partners.”
As a result, the company doesn’t care when a driver peddles his own merchandise whilst hauling Uber passengers. Uber had one driver, who was also a skilled jeweler, who set up a jewelry stand in his front seat and made $250,000 selling jewelry while driving for Uber.
It’s interesting to think that Uber started out as a simple mobile application, designed to help us with basic transportation challenges, and is now expanding into our everyday lives. I used to be worried about the small mom and pop shops across the country competing against Amazon with two-hour delivery service via a drone. Not anymore…
The social spread of Uber has been tremendous and has helped them keep their cost of advertising down to a minimum. They are a great example of being innovative, knowing their market, understanding the value of partnerships, and having a good sense of human nature.
I love how their stunts/campaigns are creating demand for their service in new and exciting ways.