Uber users are almost twice as likely than the average urban/semi-urban South African to order products online for delivery. Ubering is literally requesting the delivery of oneself online (and often a friend or two) – so this should hardly come as a surprise.
Consider this: 57% of Uber users think they’re experts when it comes to new technology and 100% of them have had to rush home in the past seven days to ‘fix’ their mom’s wifi by turning it off and on again (okay, we can’t substantiate that last fact). 76% have used body cream in the past seven days, so it looks like the men’s care regime is here to stay. More Uber users have consumed more wine (36%), than beer (28.1%) or cider (32.3%) in the past four weeks, but almost double the amount consumed fizzy drinks (55.7%), coffee (41.4%) or fruit juice (66.8%).
If Hubble’s data tells us anything, it’s that people in Cape Town and Johannesburg use Uber across all hours of the day and week, and the user base has a broad set of habits and interests.
We have all this data because we (Hubble) are Uber’s in-vehicle entertainment partner. Hubble is a homegrown startup that owns and manages a network of 700 touch-screens inside Uber vehicles in Cape Town and Johannesburg. We love to entertain Uber riders, and are fascinated by their behaviour. We are constantly learning and asking what makes them different. What are they interested in? Where are they spending their time and money? And where is everyone going? Through a panel survey and two years of engaging daily with Uber riders in Johannesburg and Cape Town we have found some interesting data that we thought warranted sharing.
What the data reveals
What we now know from the data, is that Uber users are young (60% are aged 18-34), educated (51% with tertiary education), align a bit better to the total population race split than most assume (66% black, 13% coloured, 11% white, 10% Asian/Indian) and the majority of riders fall within the SEM categories 7 to 10 (60%). We also know when the busiest days and times in JHB and CT are.
That paints a nice background, but where it really gets interesting is when we start digging into behavioural characteristics. We know from our questionnaire data that 70% of Uber users are either single or living with a partner (unmarried). So we guess when you get married you really do just start spending more time at home.
That doesn’t mean it’s only married people staying in and bingeing on Netflix, Showmax and Youtube, though. Uber users are more than twice as likely to watch online video than the average. That said, Uber users don’t just Netflix and chill all of the time, either. They are more likely than the average South African to be engaging in almost all of the hobbies and lifestyle activities that were measured in our questionnaire, from shopping, through to gaming, travelling abroad and even hunting.
On first impression this feels a bit disparate. But as we explore our data, we get a rich picture of these complex people that regularly challenge first perceptions. Over time we have developed our nuanced understanding of this audience and unlocked value for advertisers and the audience alike.
Here are a few of the nuances that we’ve begun to learn more about:
- Uber users are 1.4x more likely to diet often, to lose weight, but they really love to explore the content on our screens that relates to quick service restaurants. That category performs 1.75x better than the benchmark all day and all night, and across all geographies. So there appears to be a lot of planning going into those cheat meals!
- On average in Gauteng, Uber users are most likely to engage with content on our network while in Sandton and Randburg (37.5% of GP engagements). They are also most likely to engage with our content in the afternoon and evening (59.6%) on any typical day. On a weekly breakdown, we typically see weekends performing best, with 36% of engagements taking place on Saturdays and Sundays.
- We regularly see specific advertiser categories performing slightly differently to our benchmarks, which gives us even richer understanding of when, where and how to effectively reach our audience. For example, financial services messages over-perform on weekday mornings and on Thursdays, with suburbs like Roodepoort and Soweto over-performing for this category versus the benchmark.
- Uber riders are well educated (more than half have tertiary qualifications) but way prefer to play with simple memory games on our screens than read long form articles. We are learning that much of this has to do with the state of mind of the riders. We tend to see a lower share of engagements on weekday mornings (18%) when riders are planning their days and crushing their inboxes. As the day goes on we see engagements increasing, with content that can provide a bit of an escape from the real world being a favourite. In other words – mornings are for info gathering and planning, afternoons and evenings are for entertainment and escapism. Content that plays to those mindsets gets Uber users attentions at those times.
- Uber users find it hard to fit everything in their day (61% agree), but once they engage, will regularly spend five minutes in our channels, especially if there is a music or gaming component to the content. So taking little breaks for oneself during the day appears to be a way to cope with the relentless pace of modern urban living.
Our most valuable insight for advertisers to date, however, has been understanding that demographic is less important than state of mind and context when it comes to capturing the attention of this audience.
They are tech savvy, connected and are exposed to a plethora of media, all of the time, so suffer from advertising fatigue. To top it off, they are creative and adventurous so have short attention spans. Therefore, it is content that is presented in a way that leaves the consumer in control, comes from a place of empathy and first exists to delight, inspire and inform, that is rewarded with their time and attention.
Bard Cloete (left) is a chartered accountant turned data scientist. He crunches the numbers generated by Hubble’s 700 screens in South Africa to gather insights into the behaviour of its diverse audience.
Bruce Burgess (right) is an out of home media and location data enthusiast, and is a consulting media and data specialist.