Uber is trying to become the largest ride-sharing company in its second-largest market.
After failing to succeed in China, and subsequently selling its business there to Chinese competitor Didi, the company has turned its attention to India and is now attempting to surpass local ride-sharing company Ola Cabs as the market leader.
To spread the word, Uber has unleashed its new “Move Forward” marketing campaign that focuses on both riders and drivers alike. In one ad, “Shankar” is driving around unmoving traffic to get his daughter to school in time to take a test. He then turns on the Uber app and goes to pick up a customer, ending with, “Shankar moves forward. Uber moves Shankar.”
In addition to the new commercials, Uber India is also offering customers the chance to win free uberPOOL rides. The three people who take the most uberPOOL rides between Oct. 10 and Oct. 14 will win a year, a month, or a week worth of free rides.
“The merger with Didi has freed up resources for additional focus on customer experience and technology,” Amit Jain, who runs Uber’s operations in India, told Bloomberg. Uber is supposedly spending tens of millions of dollars each month in India, where the ridesharing market is expected to soon reach $10 billion.
While the situation in India is similar to the one it faced in China, in that Uber is going up against a local competitor, Ola has much less funding than Didi did. However, as Ola co-founder Bhavish Aggarwal said in an interview over the summer, “Money is not the thing that wins the market. It is experience.”
Uber was founded in 2009 and entered India in 2013. Ola was founded in 2010, but has more experience in the country and, with Indian-born founders, a deeper understanding of the locals. Considering many potential customers in India don’t have smartphones or credit cards, Ola has implemented app-less booking and cash transactions, moves that Uber has followed.
Uber India’s growth appears to be fairly rapid. The company is now in 28 Indian cities, and the country accounts for 12% of all Uber rides globally. In August it completed around 5.5 million rides each week, which is triple what it was at the beginning of the year. Uber plans to recruit a million drivers by 2018.
Uber could not immediately be reached for comment.