3rd April 2017
What happens when your ethical stance risks leaving you stranded?
Ah, millennials. So much has been said or written about this fascinating cohort, including by my Grayling colleagues, that I hesitated before diving into another post that uses ‘the M word’. But something caught my eye this morning that made me think again about this group. Moreover, it reminded me of the power of the brand.
All the research tells us that millennials are a caring generation, or rather, an ethical one. They expect brands and corporations to behave in ethical ways. They want, we are told, to contribute towards having a positive impact on the world, to ‘make a difference’.
But do they really?
Ride-sharing company, Uber is enduring some bad press at the moment through a series of circumstances largely of its own making (neatly summarized in my colleague Peggy Carlton, here). And while it is difficult to judge the actual cost of such reputational damage to a private company, it would be hard to argue that Uber is unaffected by its recent scrapes.
The #deleteUber campaign that sprang up in the wake of Uber’s initial opportunistic response to New York taxi drivers’ boycott of JFK, was driven by millennials – they are, after all, the heaviest users, as well as being the most inclined to take action against companies they perceive as unethical. But new research by LendEDU – conducted in March 2017 and reported by eMarketer – suggests that very few millennials plan to stop using Uber. In fact 93% said they wouldn’t.
So what does that tell us?
Far be it from me to suggest that millennials say one thing (#deleteUber) and do another (#continuetotakeUber). While I am sure there is an element of that, I don’t believe it is as simple as convenience trumping ethics.
No, I believe this data actually tells us less about millennials than it does about the power of the brand.
My assertion is that Uber’s brand resilience is such that it can weather even the considerable storms the company has endured in recent months. And possibly even worse. Although not the first to market, Uber is far and away the market leader, with a share of around 87% in the US. Not only is it almost ubiquitous, it has become synonymous with the very idea of ride-sharing app – a byword for the service itself. And when your brand name becomes a verb, you know you’re in a strong position. Just ask William Henry Hoover.
But the ride-sharing market is still immature. The same Pew research that showed millennials to be the heaviest users, also showed that only 15% of Americans had ever used any kind of ride-hailing app. And a full third of Americans had never even heard of Uber, Lyft or any of their competitors.
So while the folks at Uber can breathe a sigh of relief that their millennial loyalists do not appear to be deserting them in droves, in a growing and dynamic market there is no room for complacency, and even established, trusted brands can find themselves vulnerable. Just ask Frank Winfield Woolworth.
3rd March 2018
Taking the Lead on IR Responsibilities
Lucia Domville on the need for a more proactive approach to investor relations. Some issuers debut in the financial markets with one goal in mind - the pricing of their initial public offering (IPO),...Read More
24th February 2018
Snapchat Swipes Left on Community Engagement
In most cases, community engagement means more than listening, especially when you’re getting kicked in the gut, says Grayling San Francisco's Alan Dunton.With a single tweet, Kylie Jenner –...Read More
12th February 2018
Data, data, everywhere – but what about the people?
Grayling’s Jon Meakin, on the need to put human experiences at the heart of storytelling.In recent weeks I’ve been spending a lot of time talking to Grayling clients and would-be clients about our...Read More