Uber Innovates Ahead of the Curve – Again

Niraj Sharma |
 05/18/20 |
4 min read

Uber innovates again

As the world shut down, and ride share operations came to a hard stop, the Eats section of Uber ramped up to deliver the ultimate in comfort – food. Using a crystal ball stocked full of next generation consumer and market intelligence could be the secret sauce keeping Uber ahead of the curve as it innovates early – again.

Ride Share is Nonexistent Right Now

Though Uber is still operating as an option to get to and from work, or as a vehicle to gather essentials, ride shares have suffered. A lot. Social distancing has been encouraged and enforced. And this makes the appeal of using services like Uber or Lyft almost nonexistent. And though the use of ride sharing has gone down, the conversation around it over the past two months is significant. And the conversation is dense with COVID-19 contact concerns:


People just aren’t using these services like they used to. Rides dropped 83% in March alone. And it’s clear that it has become a last option:


It’s not just Uber or Lyft experiencing the slump, transportation everywhere is down. In fact, if it can’t be done from your couch, it’s likely not getting done.


Where online streaming sites and social media are experiencing booms, others are dipping into negative territory. Uber’s profits in Seattle alone plunged 60-70%. And while some of these businesses are crossing their fingers and waiting it out, Uber has smartly shifted most of their focus to their food delivery company, Uber Eats. It’s been a saving grace for them, even with food deliveries experiencing their own struggles.

Food Delivery Struggles for Foothold

With this unexpected shift to indoor activities, Eats has met the soaring demand of comfort in the shape of delivered foods. They’re brought their order volume up 52%. Net sentiment supports the shift. Our of 64,007 mentions of food delivery, 63% were positive, and only 36% were negative.


But, consumers are very dollar conscious as they stretch their money as far as they can during this economically shaky time. Delivery fees, handling charges all add up quickly making an 8-dollar item easily 2-3 times that once you figure in tip.


Uber Eats met their consumers where they were and waived delivery fees. They even offered coupons to help ease the financial burden. But, where deals and incentives are good for consumers, they mean less profit over-all for Uber, of course. And then add to this the additional safety precautions they have to implement for their drivers and it gets dicey.

And although food delivery is up 24% across food delivery services, Uber has loads of competition. We can see how the competition stacks up with March numbers alone:


Where Uber has grown, GrubHub has maintained a steady flow of business, and DoorDash has seen spikes of 42%. But this could all be changing soon as there is talk of Uber acquiring GrubHub,…

The Acquisition That Could Disrupt The Food Delivery Category

Acquiring GrubHub could make Uber king. And it makes sense to do so, as each has control over different parts of the country.


This union has some people wondering why GrubHub would converge when it boasts such significant market share. GrubHub is likely sick of running a four-horse race, and combining forces with UberEats to vie for dominance against DoorDash just makes sense.

There are also exceptional cost savings to consider: “Encouraging Uber and Grubhub to strike a deal now is the potential for enormous cost savings, likely north of $300 million. . . . A big part of that comes from improved logistics. By utilizing Uber’s more sophisticated routing platform, Grubhub could potentially save $2 to $3 on each of the orders it delivers itself, which amount to roughly half of its more than 500,000 daily deliveries, some of the people said. A large portion of Grubhub’s orders are delivered by restaurants themselves, as almost all of Uber’s are delivered by its drivers.”

And although GrubHub has great expertise in market and relationship-building with small to medium-sized restaurants, it hasn’t been able to retain brand loyalty. During this pandemic there have been plenty of financial incentives for consumers to jump around. Every company is slashing prices to stay in consumer’s periphery, if not center view.

Also – it’s following where the world is trending. Purchase and activity habits are shifting. And as the world opens again for business, watching trends closely will be important.

Pressing the Gas on Shifting Trends

Even though the world is theoretically open for business, many people will elect to stay home for a good bit of time. What this means for dine-in restaurants is yet to be seen.

Research shows that habits made during times of disaster become habits maintained well after the threat passes. So, we can expect food delivery to ramp up as the economy recovers.

Understanding how people feel about returning to a dine-in experience can help a company know when to strike. Using social analytics, the summary metrics show a lower interest in dining out, as the net sentiment sits at -17 (on a scale from -100 to 100) …..


In contrast, looking at food delivery services, the net sentiment is +23%, a much more positive, though still hesitant, view.


Further investigating these sentiments, we can look at the Brand Passion Index of the two offerings. Here, we can compare the overall passion intensity and love consumers have for brands, or in this case – topics:


Dine-in restaurants right now are lingering low in sentiment and passion. In contrast, food delivery service wins out. We can logically suspect that sentiment and passion for dine-in restaurants may rise as the world and economy slowly return to a semblance of normal. But it will be important to track these – and other trends – as these changes take place.

Monitoring All of The Things

Food delivery is far from the only avenue where significant change can be expected. The field is wide for potential disruption across every vertical.

Tracking trends can help a company know when changes are coming and help them prepare (or brace) for it. Having not only market research to spot trends, but also a powerful next generation AI—powered social listening tool to monitor consumer sentiment will spell the difference between those proactively preparing for change from those scrambling to adapt to surprises. Don’t get left behind, reach out for a demo!


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