Uber’s India fiasco: A Marketer’s Perspective

Uber is all over the news in India. Everyone has an opinion of their own on the matter. Some support the ban and blame Uber for the lapse; some consider the action to be a bit harsh. I am a marketing grad, I observe trends and the underlying reasons in the opinions.

The Promise

The primary reason for the success of Uber in the US and worldwide was the promise of ‘safe rides at affordable prices.’ In fact in even in India, which happens to be the company’s second largest market after USA, it launched with a very distinct and clear positioning of – Safest rides on the road.

The point to be kept in mind is, the message was not subtle. In fact, it cannot get any clearer. In a country plagued by frequent crimes against women, Uber promised something that made it sell like Hot Cakes.

The Case in Point

The positioning is in fact quite lucrative. Affordable cabs are ubiquitous in India and so is the new age cab booking apps. Uber had to gain an upper hand over the locals like TaxiForSure, Ola, Meeru and many others.

The positioning of Uber is in fact extremely lucrative. In the US, it even has a three layer security check for the drivers. In India, in the race of capturing markets before others, the guidelines went for a toss.

The alleged driver in the New Delhi case is known to submit a police verification document certifying him of being a non-offender in the past. That’s it. It is not at all surprising that the driver forged a letter covering up his tracks as a serial offender.

Is the ban justified?

No. A rape is a very serious offence. It shows a serious lapse of legal and safety measures a government undertakes for its citizens. I think the rape in itself is much more important an issue than the driver being associated with Uber.

Is Uber to blame?

I believe – Yes. I am not concerned about the legal ramifications of the incident but Uber has to take the blame because it promised the girl, a safe ride. India is a land of emotions and betrayal is one thing that is never forgotten.

What’s in the future?

The focal point about the future of Uber in India is – Uber sold Trust and it’s the trust that’s broken.

Trust is build over time and broken in a moment. Right now, Uber is facing the situation more closely than any of us.

In my opinion, even if the company is allowed to function again in India, it would take a major image over hauling before the customers start to trust the ‘safest rides on roads.’

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