Social Sentiment Study: People “Love” Uber –but Not Taxis

BPI 2013 Car Services A NetBase-JOwyang

The folks at NetBase (I work with CMO Lisa Joy Rosner, who’s a client of ours) continue to provide market analysis on social media sentiment in the Collaborative Economy.  

Real-world battle between car sharing startups vs business institutions underway.
The timing for this particular Brand Passion Index which showcases how much people Love, Like, Dislike, and Hate topics of brands and institutions. Just a a few hours ago, the local news reported that Lyft and Uber drivers are deemed as illegal at the SFO airport, and citizens arrests could be made.  In a very opposite side of the story, the California Public Utilities Commission is considering proposing that these car and ride sharing companies become legal.  The timing for today’s study couldn’t be any better.

Sentiment study of social media yields a power shift in public discussions.
The above data suggests that Uber (known for premium towncars) and Lyft (vetted, personable drivers) are widely “Loved” by folks who use social media. It also suggests, that the term Taxi is widely discussed (hence the larger circle), with a majority of the discussion being “Disliked”. Avis, in particular, has negative sentiment in the “Dislike” category, and Hertz and Enterprise are also in the “Disklike” category. Zipcar, Sidecar are in the “Love” category, but Sidecar is border-lining in volume with sentiment aligned with “Hate”.

These new startups empower the crowd of buyers and drivers.
The crowd can use mobile apps from the collaborative economy car sharing providers, and bypass taxi lines.  They can also review ratings and reviews of cars and drivers, before hiring.  Both the driver is rated, as well as the passenger, ensuring quality systems on both ends.  Payments often happen on the backend with a swipe of a finger, rather than fiddling with cash or credit, smoothing business operations.   This means the crowd gets what they want, on their terms –bypassing old ways of doing business.

[Just as Social Media Democratized Ideas, the Collaborative Economy Democratizes Business]

BPI 2013 Car Services B NetBase-JOwyang

NetBase also supplied the above graphic, which removes the term “Taxi” allowing a closer zoom in of the specific car sharing services. This provides clarity, showing that the Collaborative Economy Startups are faring better than traditional car rental services.

What it Means:  The Crowd Favors Crowd Services –Over Traditional Business.
Social sentiment analyzes overall consumer opinion across a broad set of users, many who are likely using these services from mobile devices provide insight to how consumers think, and feel about these services.

  • High-end service providers like Uber lead the sentiment “Love”.   As a customer of Uber, I’ve experienced the higher-end professional service, where drivers have to receive at least 4.6 stars or are at risk for dismissal .  These amazing application allows customers to quickly order a car with a few swipes from a thumb, and track the car as it’s on route to pick you up.  While Uber has since moved to regular consumer driven cars, they’re leather clad Lincoln towncars and Mercedes are a step above the rest.
  • Avis, Hertz and Enterprise are fall within the “Dislike” category.  Social media sentiment from these study indicates that consumer chatter indicates a “Disklike” for these brands.  Whether it’s older business models, wait time, or price, general sentiment is a strike against this traditional business model.  These traditional brands have larger brand discussion than the smaller startups, although Avis’ struggles with negative brand sentiment.
  • Taxis have the largest share of voice, but much is “Disliked”.  Whether it’s an aging business model, odd business practices or experiences, Taxis have a large share of voice, but much is not pleasant.  The collaborative economy startups provide a rating system for both driver and passenger, enabling a two way of marketplaces to see who they’re going to work with before they meet, ensuring higher service for all.

Collaborative Economy startups self-regulate as the crowd ratings enforce quality.  Consumers rate crowd based services like Uber and Lyft ensuring quality.  Taxis, while regulated by city, are not rated by the people. with the power often in the hands of the Taxi company and driver.   The collaborative economy is democratizing business, bypassing business institutions that the crowd doesn’t want.  The power is shifting to the people.

[Companies in a power position, with with negative customer sentiment, are ripe for crowd disruption]

The Bottom Line: Sentiment is shifting to the Crowd-Based Businesses
Social media sentiment is a lens on how people think, and feel about brands and experiences as they share it in public, and right now, the crowd favors crowd-based services over traditional businesses. Crowds are empowered with VC backed low-cost startups that provide social software, on-demand mobile apps, and ratings and ranking systems. Now that the crowd is getting what they need from each other, business models that do not deliver –are at high risk from disintermediation. Companies who want to engage and profit with the crowd, should adopt the Collaborative Economy Value Chain.

17 Replies to “Social Sentiment Study: People “Love” Uber –but Not Taxis”

  1. I get why taxi companies feel threatened but I think it’s untrue. I’ve always hate DC cabs. I refuse to ride in them in the city – before Uber if there was an event in the city and I couldn’t be driven there or get there from the Metrorail, I wasn’t going.

    Uber is more of a competitor to town car services, but even then, not really – if a trip is long enough for a town car service, you’d probably pick their pricing over Uber anyway.

    Instead of reacting this way, taxi companies need to up their game. With the addition to this space of services like Lyft, they won’t survive long from sulking in the corner.

  2. As an old SM research guy, I think we have a bit of a “representativeness” problem with this report.

    I believe that this is interesting and useful information, but the sample (people posting on SM) does not actually represent the addressable market (all Taxi and car for hire users).

    Further, UBER has done such a great job marketing to SM influencers that they over-index in this kind of report.

    Not saying it isn’t interesting, useful and important info – but I might be careful about over generalizing conclusions.

    Thx – TO’B

  3. Very interesting! But I think you’re mistaking what people like about these services. It’s not about the “crowd”, it’s about whether or not the companies provide their service in a way that people wish to consume it. People love Uber and the others because it’s a consistent and predictable experience, the cars are nice, the drivers are professional, booking is easy, payment is effortless (and doesn’t require cash), pricing is transparent, pickups are quick. People hate taxis because everything is inconsistent and unpredictable and variable in quality. Cars may or may not be nice, drivers are often rude, booking is a hassle, payment is a fiasco, pricing is mysterious, pickups are inaccurate and slow. Taxi systems could fix ALL of that if they wanted to.

  4. Rachel, I agree the nomenclature is challenging. When i refer to the crowd, I mean: 1) The people who are driving the cars like Lyft and Uber, 2) The people who are riding in the cars. It’s important to know that many of the drivers themselves are also using social. I took one Lyft ride with and he’s been very active on social. He even listed his Twitter account from this Dashboard so I could tweet at him.

    I agree with all your other points.

  5. One should also address the demographic that is represented in social media, which sources are being used;Twitter, FB, review forum, as demographics may be narrowly represented in this study due to sourcing. Sentiment can be an extremely narrow metric and may not represent anything really actionable.

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