For nearly five years, Uber and Lyft have been vying to be the preferred form of commuting for Americans. In an attempt to appeal to a diverse consumer base, both companies expanded to include services from luxury SUV rides to pooling with three other passengers for $5. But has it paid off? According to 1010data, the total number of rides from both services more than doubled from 2015 to 2016. Even though Lyft is growing at a faster rate, likely due to a smaller user base, Uber has commanded an average of 86% of rides since 2014.
The chart above shows that until 2017, trends have been very consistent. In January 2017, we start to see share increasing for Lyft as it decreases for Uber. Suddenly Lyft is experiencing more rides than normal, but what about users?
If we concentrate on January and February 2017, we see that Uber and Lyft’s week over week growth in users are trending fairly similar to one another. The one time the lines converge is after January 29, where Lyft experienced a much higher proportion of users than usual during the following week.
What prompted this difference? On January 29, Lyft’s co-founder sent an email to all of their customers announcing that they would donate $1 million to the ACLU over the next four years in response to the government’s immigration ban. During a time of heightened sensitivity, Lyft took a political stance and it appears to have paid off. In the 30 days following the email, Lyft’s customer base grew 7%, more than half of which were already Uber riders. Of the new Lyft riders who used Uber, 81% of them actually stopped using Uber after January 29. Overall, Lyft added 3% more customers to their base because those riders left Uber for Lyft. After about a week, user rates returned to normal for both ride services.
This example demonstrates how much of an impact political stances can have on a brand. Lyft’s message resonated with customers and even attracted new ones. While it’s still unclear how active Lyft’s new users will be, the fact that they became customers when they did speaks to positive effect this had on the Lyft brand.