Located in more than 200 cities across 45 countries and 6 continents worldwide, popular car service company Uber has made it its mission to bring transportation to everyone, everywhere with just the tap of a button. As Uber expands, it is working to put hundreds of thousands of cars on the road. This gives marketers hundreds of thousands of opportunities to connect with potential consumers by creating relevant and authentic brand experiences that resonate with the Uber passenger.
In late August 2014, Uber released an API allowing for its on-demand service to be seamlessly integrated into other apps. As part of the API, developers now have access to many of the primitives that make the Uber experience: apps can pass a destination address to the Uber app, display pickup times, provide fare estimates, access trip history and more.
Almost immediately, 11 partners including OpenTable, Starbucks, Tempo, TripAdvisor and United Airlines among others, committed to introducing Uber to their consumers. By seamlessly integrating Uber within their offerings, these brands are adding value to their products and services, and making the lives of consumers easier. TripAdvisor for example now offers its customers the ability to schedule Uber pick-ups when making purchases – making travel to a restaurant, attraction or hotel that much easier.
These integrations provide the mutual benefit of creating a better customer experience for partner brands while furthering Uber’s reach and thus its success. As Uber’s influence continues to grow, so do the opportunities for brands looking to align themselves with the car service provider. In the below post we provide a more in-depth look into Uber brand partnerships and four ways marketers can benefit from aligning their brands with Uber.
Over the past couple years Uber has been making news for its innovative brand partnerships – whether partnering to improve its own service, or partnering to create new experiences for consumers.
In 2013, Uber struck a deal with a number of auto manufacturers (GM & Toyota to name a couple) and financing providers to reduce the costs of new cars for its drivers. In doing so, it has been able to increase the number of drivers in market, and more quickly expand its fleet into cities throughout the world.
Then in December, Uber partnered with Home Depot in select U.S. cities to bring Christmas trees on-demand with #UberTREE. The effort was a one-day-only service where Uber delivered a tree directly to the purchaser’s doorstep with just the click of a button. And let’s not forget about the two years in a row when Uber became an on-demand kitten delivery service in honor of National Cat Day.
This year, Uber partnered with Vaccine Finder for a one-day pilot program – #UberHEALTH – to make house calls and bring people flu prevention packs and shots from registered nurses. All of this was offered by Uber at no cost, and Uber even took it a step further donating $5 for every shot given to the Red Cross to help drive vaccination efforts for children.
Uber’s value is universal. The brand is about providing people with convenience and simplicity – something for which all brands strive. As such, brands can partner with Uber to improve their own experiences or create new ones in a number of ways:
- Integrate Uber into branded apps: Marketers may benefit directly from integrating Uber into their apps and aligning consumer’s transportation needs with their own offerings. Travel brands targeting consumers that are constantly on-the-go would benefit from integrating Uber to make consumers’ travel easier. Delivery services can also partner with Uber to optimize how they transport products to people by taking advantage of the easy transportation system in place.
- Build upon the fleet: Many of the Uber cars currently on the road aren’t energy efficient models. Because hybrid and electric vehicles have become widely accessible and provide less environmental impact, manufacturers could partner with Uber to provide utility to those in need, while getting more environmentally-friendly vehicles on the road.
Automobile manufacturers could also create very unique Uber experiences around the launches of new car models, by teaming up with Uber to provide drivers with their latest model releases. Not only can they release new models during peak hours in high traffic cities where they would have high visibility, but Uber customers would get an intimate, inside look at the brand’s latest model, where key features could be highlighted.
- Improve the ride: Marketers of products which are uniquely useful in travel downtime – such as magazines, cosmetics or snack foods – could get a leg up by making their products available in Uber cars, and providing an opportunity for potential customers to sample or interact with their products first-hand. Similarly, brands with products that are commonly found in cars – such as children’s car seats – could look to become the sole providers of these products in Uber vehicles.
- Create new experiences: Brands that are seeking to create unique real-world experiences for consumers such as #UberTree and #UberHealth could likewise find great value in a partnership with Uber. Imagine, for example a Red Bull take-over of a fleet or Uber cars that is tied to an upcoming event, like the Red Bull Regatta, and launched a few weeks prior to the actual event to remind people of what’s upcoming as they venture to and from their destinations.
There are incredible opportunities for brands to reach new customers and create new experiences through partnerships with Uber and other ride-share services like Lyft and Sidecar. Marketers should start by taking a look into Uber’s API to explore the opportunities available to integrate the service into their offerings, and to determine if a partnership with the company would align with their brand objectives. Most importantly, they should heavily weigh the perceived value to their consumers, keeping in mind that making consumer’s lives easier, or creating unique experiences that excite them, is in turn making them more likely to be advocates for their brand.
Mike Jacobson and Marisa Zupan, Senior Strategists at 360i contributed to this post.
Cover photo via NYMagazine