“People who cannot invent and reinvent themselves must be content with borrowed postures, secondhand ideas, fitting in instead of standing out” – Warren Bennis
In the past couple of weeks, Uber Lagos has been on an aggressive drive to grow their clientele by offering riders a whooping 40% reduction in their fares. The company had to reinvent and utilise unconventional methods to counter the wave of competition from other ride-sharing technology companies, drawn by their success into Africa’s biggest market. Billboards have sprung up in key locations in the city and you can’t miss Uber’s radio advert offering rides at cheaper fares than the cost of small chops.
A comparison to small chops does not just present Uber as affordable but attempts to showcase the company’s service as deliciously irresistible as the much loved local finger food. I found myself breaking out in a smile the first time I heard the advert, thinking of my next treat of small chops.
The audacious move by Uber have shaken up the market with some drivers mobilising themselves to register their displeasure at the cut on their earnings. Uber had offered incentives to drivers and partners to sweeten the deal but they were nevertheless irked that the decision was unilateral and not to their benefit. Consequently, many drivers have jumped ship and signed up with Taxify, an Estonian founded company, whose entry sparked off the competition.
Uber however hasn’t backed down but is rather embarking on the free inspection and activation of new cars on their platform, offering enticing incentives to those who join within the period. For the first time since their entry in Nigeria, they are employing traditional media outlets to counter competition from other companies. Uber’s campaign floats were equally sighted across major malls in the city, canvassing for partners and activating new vehicles on their platform.
In the heat of competition, Uber has admirably undergone some reality check of sorts and come up with changes in their style that has boosted their PR. Their hitherto arrogant posturing has been discarded for a more friendly and interactive approach. No longer insisting on only communicating with their stakeholders online via emails/chats or by booking appointments for a physical meeting, they now make direct phone calls to their partners for feedback and to offer targeted incentives.
While the battle rages, riders are having a field day, moving around Lagos in pure comfort at next to nothing and can even afford to throw in a serving of small chops, without denting their budget.