2018 was a super busy year for the transportation tech industry, with Uber being in the very middle of the storm. Not only did various transportation-technology startups emerge and disrupted the market further, foodies rejoiced as more online food delivery services sprang out of the ground to meet their cravings.
Uber was a part of both growing industries in Egypt, opening up Uber Eats and Uber Bus last year.
Alongside adopting an international rebrand, Uber Egypt’s then Head of Marketing, Ahmad Yousry, had a lot of work cut out for him. Having recently moved to the company’s Dubai headquarters for Uber Eats as their new Head of Marketing for MENA, Yousry is now tasked with helping grow Uber’s newest endeavor.
In an email interview, we spoke to him about how Uber was able to stay driver-friendly even with 3 different types of drivers, Uber’s new look, what Uber Eats might be doing in the future.
First of all, congratulations on your new position. Do you have any plans for Uber Eats in the region yet?
“Thank you, and I am very happy to have my first chat with you 🙂
I am super lucky as a foodie to get the chance to lead such an amazing brand that transforms how we enjoy our food every day.
Uber Eats is an amazing on-demand meal delivery platform [that allows] for international brands, local favorites, and your corner mom & pop shop to focus on creating that amazing food we love, [while] we can help by delivering the food in the fastest way with the best experience.
The key focus for me is to tell the brand story and what we stand for, continue to grow our coverage and selection and ensure all our customers can enjoy the food they crave whenever and wherever life takes them.”
Last year, while you were still in charge of Uber Egypt’s marketing, the company jumped into 2 new industries. Dealing with 3 separate brands and marketing materials, including Uber’s rebranding, must have been taxing. How were you able to keep up with it all?
“It has been an amazing year [and] with a clear strategy, perseverance, and an amazing team, the challenges turned into successes.
It started with having a very clear strategy on where we wanted to play, what we wanted to work on, and even what we decided not to do. This helped [me] in being able to focus on doing much much more and be very selective.
[On perseverance] At times when it got crazy, I’d remember that working on great, challenging initiatives is what’s fun about marketing.
To be honest, it could not have been possible to succeed in such a busy year without the dedication of my amazing marketing team and the support from the wider organization.
To be the #1 internet and digital brand and the 5th most recommended brand in Egypt is the perfect end to an amazing year.” *
With 3 completely different sets/types of drivers, how were you able to market each app to each set’s needs and wants?
“Uber provides a diverse range of transportation means for riders so that as many people as possible can take rides with us.
We are aiming to make Egypt’s sprawling metropolis more accessible to everyone, while also having more people in fewer cars in order to do our part to reduce traffic congestion.
With that said, while the drivers can be different and each product may have a different target audience, the promise of Uber is the same: we are here to empower drivers with flexible economic opportunities to increase their earnings. This mission is at the core of all our marketing activities, regardless of which product we’re marketing.”
Drivers have always been an important element and stakeholder of the company, and with growing competition for good drivers in all 3 industries, how did you help make the brand more driver-friendly?
“At Uber, we consider drivers to be our partners in success, which is why we continuously work to provide access and equal opportunities for all 200k drivers [in Egypt] – men and women – who use the Uber app to increase their earnings.
We support their well-being by constantly developing the Uber technology to adapt it to [their] local needs, and by partnering with different companies and organizations to make their experience at Uber smooth and convenient.
Drivers’ safety is one of our top priorities, and accordingly, Uber partnered with AXA Egypt to provide drivers with auto insurance, protection from the financial cost of injury, including medical expenses or lost earning opportunities when an accident takes place while driving on the Uber app.
Also, given the challenging economic conditions and traditional loan terms and conditions, Uber partnered with several companies like valU and Nacita AutoCare to provide vehicle solution programs that include less barriers for entry, and streamline the rental process. The programs will facilitate drivers’ car ownership, and empowering with access to opportunities that are financially convenient.
We also work on continuously developing the Uber technology to provide drivers with a safe and convenient work environment.
We pioneered the technology enabling drivers to set their own personal destination and time on the app so that, when accepting a trip, they can still get where they need to be even while dropping a rider off on the way – allowing for more flexibility. Drivers can also be notified when a trip is estimated to be 60 minutes or longer, so they have the information they need to fit driving around their life, and not the other way around.
Drivers can also use the app to share their location and trip status with friends and family, so that someone they trust always know where they are. The driver can start and stop sharing their trip status anytime.”
What would your advice be for startups and other companies with a similar platform setup and stakeholders?
“Having a great brand starts from inside out.
From a dedicated group of individuals that believe in the collective mission of the company and are passionate to tell the company’s story [to] the reason why it exists.
What follows is defining what the brand persona is, what it stands for and how to ensure it is honest, relevant and differentiated to the right target customer – not everyone.
Because, in reality, each brand is fighting for the customer’s attention across its category while also competing with adjacent and complementing industries. This makes giving your customer a reason to remember and use your product/service much more difficult, and ensures that your decision-making is a lot more consumer-focused.”
Last year was also a year where the brand went for a new look. Uber’s new branding on their billboards got some curious comments, any favorites or anything you want to clear up?
“My favorite one so far was on the day we rolled out our first creative with the new U-frame. I received a call from a friend alerting me that ‘the print house must have printed the Uber billboard ad wrong as the bleed is showing.’
I remember how we laughed about it when I explained it. To this day I still pull his leg!
I am in love with our new brand identity as its look and feel really represent us as a brand. Changing the core color to white better portrays our commitment to being an accessible and welcoming brand that is built for everyone. We are young and sleek, but we are also inviting and revolutionary.
I am particularly a big fan of our new font – Uber Move: it is bold, crisp, and plays a very important role in delivering our message and standing out of the crowd.”
Let’s talk Uber Eats. I know you’re probably still getting settled into your new position but how do you see the brand is doing? Is it doing well or is there a lot of work left to do to fight off the growing number of competitors?
“The online food delivery industry is super interesting [while] the MENA region is more on the advanced end of the scale. I am happy with our performance so far. We have been in Dubai for over two years, [we] launched in Abu Dhabi and Sharjah this past year, and expanded to both Saudi and Egypt as well; our growth is exciting and there is plenty of room to grow even faster.
As for competition, at Uber, we believe in choice; market diversity in any sector offers the consumer the best solutions.
The competition that Uber has introduced into the Egyptian market has also encouraged innovation by other platforms. At Uber, we use the power of our technology to not only localize the global experience, but also to build locally.
I know that the better we define and communicate what Uber Eats is, the more consumers, restaurants, and couriers will want to depend on the dynamic technology that also disrupted the ridesharing industry.”
Have you come across any distinctive differences in how the consumers or drivers perceive or use the app in the different countries of MENA?
“In the MENA region, we LOVE our food, and for every occasion there is a different cuisine food to celebrate it with.
What really interests me the most is the rising trend of foodies, specialty cuisines, and food trucks, which are becoming a core component of the ‘food scene’ around the region.
With food appreciation becoming an evolving lifestyle that will continue to gain momentum, we are well positioned to do a lot of fun activities to support consumer food discovery, and also provide small and new restaurants with the opportunity to grow and expand while perfecting the experience of the international favorites.”
Will the brand be investing in data and personalization this year? How?
“Uber is built on data and personalization of the experiences. For Uber Eats, our vision is to make food delivery a stress-free part of people’s everyday lives.
We know people are calling out for more convenient solutions to fit food around their hectic lifestyles, and we’re building the technology to offer choice, smarter selection, meal scheduling, discovery and recommendations, food tracking, and more convenient delivery features.”
Uber Eats is just beginning its journey, what are you most excited about for the brand this year?
“What I am most excited about is the growth of our footprint across the region, and bringing to as many people as possible the food they love when and where they want. I am also really excited to see us working with new restaurant partners to provide people with a wide selection of cuisines across the different cities we are present in and defining what Uber Eats is for the MENA region.
We have some amazing ideas to push the whole industry forward, because food is an amazing delight and should always be a stress-free experience.”
Do you have any thoughts on how to improve or disrupt the food delivery industry further?
“I have a couple of ideas, but I would rather you try them out when they are available on the Uber Eats app! 🙂 “