Why do we use the products that we do? What makes us decide we need such a product and must have it or at least try it in the first place?

Is it just because the app is “trending” on the App Store? Never! else we’d have 13 new apps downloaded every day but no one I know does that. Is it because our friends told us they’re great? This could be “one of the reasons” but not the sole purpose.

What then is at the very core of our decision to try out a new product?

It’s our very basic human need to be better today than we were yesterday. (That does make for a gimmicky marketing pitch, doesn’t it? But it’s true!)

We want to shift to a some other product or try our hand at something completely new because we want to up our game – maybe it’s a nagging frustration we believe we have suffered long enough (Waze – customized voice commands for your GPS so the Google robot’s lack of tone doesn’t tick you off on your morning commute, my personal favorite is Morgan Freeman’s voice) or maybe we want to get better at something we’ve been planning to be (Blinkist – condensed reads for those who can’t find the time to read an entire book but still want to be able to imbibe the best of it and consume more)

 

The product somehow is being integrated into the user’s sense of self – it becomes them, reflects them in some tiny but true manner. It’s a basic working of positive reinforcement – users feel like they’ve improved, that they would have made a minute but positive change in their life.

How does this then change the way user loyalty works? Simple, so long as a product can remain “positively good” – doing the things the user wants and at the same time helping the user believe his life is better using the product than before when he wasn’t.

Sure, traditional variables like pricing, promotion and customer relationship continue being key to creating loyalty; maintaining loyalty however has changed as more and more users are sharing through social media and ratings and recommendations on the AppStore/Playstore of the apps they use or the media they consume whether it be online like Netflix or onsite like a movie or play at the local theatre. Now the world knows of the products you use and your association to each becomes a part of your greater presence.

 

Very recently LinkedIn and other forums released the annual Top Startups List for USA, Canada and the world and we witnessed a landslide change in terms of rankings for Uber – going from being the favorite in 2017 (with millions vying on having the company go Public so they could have a share of its phenomenal rise) to Lyft topping the chart this year and Uber falling to lower than the Top 20 rung. All in a single year!

What happened here? Everyone who has ever used both these ride-hailing apps knows that although the functional experience of both is highly indistinguishable, even with the Uber app’s color scheme being a far better, chic visual than Lyft’s fat fonts and use of pink and a sleeker moving map system – Lyft has very deservingly stolen the limelight.

 

Lyft’s biggest blessing came with the numerous scandals at Uber – wage theft, trade secret lawsuits with Google, mortality on its self-driving cab, sexual harassment cases, data breaches and so much more. As more negativity started piling on Uber; Lyft essentially let previous Uber users comfortably move on to their own app.

Lyft uses the exact same drivers, the exact same cars (multi-homing drivers that use more than one app to get rides to earn fares) – essentially the base offering remained unchanged – just the air around using the “better” app intensified. Unfortunately for Uber, the #deleteuber debacle on twitter that started in January of 2017 remained all too relevant throughout the year.

Although Lyft does not offer ride-sharing just yet in major parts of North America more users continue using Lyft even as the news of these mishaps at Uber died down, continuing to this day. This is only because Lyft made it easier for the users to “remain loyal” – they have used reduced pricing to onboard more of the UberPool frequenters and improved minimum vehicle requirements in its various categories and most importantly it has learned from Uber’s mistakes and stayed away from bad press.

I wait to see how with the current news of Lyft racing to go public before Uber does unfolds and I reckon that a majority of these first subscribers to Lyft’s IPO would be easily classified as Investors not Traders.

 

 

One thought on “Why the products we use define us and vice-versa | How loyalty will make Lyft the better opponent over Uber

  1. As an active ride sharing services user, I can definitely relate to his case. I always felt Lyft provided that cozy experience, as the drivers and the app service itself made me feel more comfortable. One clear observation is I instinctively tend to hop on the front seat when taking a lyft however its almost second nature to not do that in Uber. Despite, this I would weirdly choose an uber over a lyft, 9 out of 10 times.

    Mainly because customer perceptions can be complex. For a globetrotter, I have taken Ubers across the world with a single app. That has created a trust, I wouldn’t discount. Also despite the bad press, I have spoken to drivers from multiple countries and its fascinating how Uber has economically empowered countless individuals across the world with means to a livelihood setting up the business model for others to replicate.

    What I find truly interesting, is with the advent of self-driving cars on the horizon. How will customer loyalty in ride-sharing services pan out 5, 10, 15 years from now. What are your thoughts on that

    Like

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