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Q) What are some of the key initiatives that Uber took since the implementation of the lockdown?
Uber is all about moving people, but that wasn't the case when the pandemic struck. To support the government in its efforts to contain the spread of COVID-19, we urged riders to stay home.  Additionally, we also realigned business priorities and launched new services that would fit the needs of our community.

We launched our last mile delivery service to ensure everyday essentials, groceries and medicines would reach citizens despite the lockdown. We rolled out UberMedic, a dedicated and reliable service for frontline healthcare workers.

We also launched our package delivery service ‘Uber Connect’ in 25 Indian cities, enabling residents to send and receive parcels from each other and also order items from shops while maintaining social distancing. These services also unlocked earning opportunities for driver partners in the midst of a lockdown.

As a company Uber is taking measures to address the safety concerns that may keep people from using ride hailing in these Covid-19 times. Over the past few months, we have launched a comprehensive set of safety measures, such as the Go Online Checklist, a mandatory mask policy for both riders and drivers, pre-trip mask verification selfies for drivers, mandatory driver education and an updated cancellation policy allowing both riders and driver to cancel trips if they don’t feel safe. 

Complementing these initiatives, we have sourced more than 3 million face masks, 1.2 million shower caps for Moto riders, 200,000 bottles of disinfectants, and 200,000 bottles of sanitizers for free distribution to all our driver partners in India.

Our latest safety campaign #SaferForEachOther further helped us to dispel some of the safety fears by showcasing various efforts we’ve taken to promote greater platform safety. We believe safety is a shared responsibility and now more than ever, each rider needs to play an active role in keeping themselves and those around them safe.

Q) How did you ensure that your conversations were on with customers as well as drivers? How did you move the needle from ‘Online Marketing’ to ‘Marketing Online’?
In these times, we used the power of our owned channels to ensure constant communication with drivers and riders. The Uber app is a great way for us to reach out to audiences at large, with clear, succinct messaging, through push notifications and emails. We also ensured that our social media communication was frequent to give constant updates and advisory to riders.

Q) What have been some of the key consumer changes and behavioural shifts observed in the last six months? Could you share some insights of the changes in the shared mobility space?
In our conversations with riders, we found that they were most apprehensive about the standards of safety and hygiene maintained by previous riders.

Our campaign #SaferForEachOther aimed to underscore that safety, too, can spread if each rider sanitizes their hands, wears a mask, and doesn’t travel when sick, thereby making the entire platform safer for the next rider. The campaign highlights ‘self-care spreads safety’, and that riders can start a chain reaction whereby each rider makes the platform safer for the next one boarding the car.

Q) What are some of the key focus area for Uber in terms of marketing strategies going forward?
We aim to build a more informed and responsible rider base who care about their safety and take all the recommended safety precautions to keep themselves safe, thereby ensuring the safety of the driver and the next rider as well.

Through our new campaign #SaferForEachOther, we want to inform our riders about the various steps that we have taken - Safety features, Mask check, PPE distribution, disinfection before every ride, to make every rider feel safer. We also want to educate our riders that safety is a shared responsibility.

Our effort is to build a more informed rider base that takes measures to keep themselves safe, which will in turn keep the next rider safe. We believe that safety can spread too and every single rider’s actions can help build a community that is safer for each other.

As cities slowly begin to open up, the key factor in everyone’s mind is to ensure safety as we start coming out of our homes. Our marketing strategies will be reiterating our commitment to help people move with more safety.

Q) For Indian consumers discounting & pricing have been a key enticer, what do you see to be the key priorities and concern areas now? With safety becoming paramount, how does the pricing strategy pan out?
Value has always been an important attribute for the ridesharing category. In the current times, safety has become the primary concern, with riders and drivers prioritising this over other attributes. Value comes a close second.

At Uber we are committed to providing multiple modes of transportation, like Moto, Auto, Cars etc which enable our riders to choose an option that works best for them. Across these modalities we strive to provide a safe and reliable service.

Q) As a marketer, what are the key lessons learnt? How do you see marketing evolving in the post-pandemic era?
These are challenging times for both markets and brands, with no precedent to follow. The pandemic has forced us all to rethink how we approach our work and brand strategies.

While there is no one-plan-suits-all, in these challenging times, there are three things that marketing teams should focus on. First, start with the customer, understand how their needs have evolved, their expectations from the category and reimagine the product portfolio to cater to these needs.

Second, focus on safety and hygiene, any business that needed physical contact with the customer will need to reimagine their processes, their hygiene protocols and assure customers that they are safe to use. And finally, lead with actions and not just ads.

Now more than ever brands should focus on creating tangible solutions that enable customers to navigate the new normal, and not gloss over by simply creating covid ads.

As we gradually transition to the new normal and resume normal lives, the biggest challenge brands will face is to win back customer trust, confidence and loyalty. Tone matters. The need will be to focus on campaigns and communication which is authentic and a one that reaffirms safety measures being taken by the brand.

Q) As per Uber, the company facilitated 14 million rides a week in India. Office commute, airport drops and corporate travel accounted for the majority of the rides. With travel by and large suspended, work-from-home becoming the norm, how do you see the year ahead for Uber and the ride-hailing industry?
We have seen slight shifts in category usage. While some use cases like airports have reduced due to lack of travel, we have seen other use cases increase. Products like Moto and Auto are leading growth for us, with riders appreciating the benefits of E-hail options in these categories.

We continue to focus on the quality of our service and ensuring a safe and reliable ride every time a rider chooses us. As recovery picks up, we see the traditional use cases coming back on the platform and we will benefit from the new use cases that are being introduced to the category during these times.

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Tags : Sanjay Gupta Uber Simran Sabherwal Nikhil Kant