Despite being founded less than 7 years ago, Uber has quickly become one of the most successful app’s we have ever seen in this new age of technology, with it being reported to have exceeded 1 billion rides in Uber cars by the turn of 2015. But just how did it become such a roaring success? Of course it is an excellent idea that runs on a very simple and concise platform making it extremely user friendly. It also epitomizes the age that we live in today in the sharing economy and in terms of having everything at the reach of a smartphone. However, it’s more than that. Uber’s localization and globalization strategies are second to none, and this is reflected in their ever-growing success in the Chinese market.
Uber has already expanded to approximately 60 countries, but none of them compare to China. The CEO and co-founder of Uber, Travis Kalanick, stated in an interview in Beijing last year that the Chinese market should be approached as an independent entity, with separate management and headquarters. This was the first time that Uber had ever set up an independent company for a new foreign market as opposed to just opening up offices within the country. This not only highlights the challenges of localizing to the China market but also the huge potential for reward there is in the Chinese economy.
This was a decision that paid great dividends as the growth in Uber users in China has risen at an unparalleled scale. In the first 9 months of Uber’s inception, cities such as Hangzhou and Chengdu have had 422 and 479 times, respectively, as many trips as New York did within its first 9 months. Of course, when Uber arrived in China, there was prior knowledge of the app, unlike in New York, but the amount of Uber journey’s in these Chinese cities is still incredible – especially considering that New york was Uber’s largest market prior to their Chinese expansion.
One of the key factors in Uber’s success in China has been their ability to localize effectively. A prime example of this is the panda themed meeting points they have set up in Chengdu, a city famous for having the most panda’s in the whole of China. These meeting points make it convenient for drivers to locate their passengers, and also for people new to the city to meet up and arrange rides. The “panda points” were a huge hit in Chengdu, particularly among the Chinese tourists coming to visit the city as they saw it as a nice little reflection of the city as well as a convenient spot to hail a taxi.
Uber have targeted expansion to a number of cities in China and if they can carry on as they have been doing, there will be no end to their success. Uber China’s head of strategy said in a statement recently that “2015 was Uber China’s ‘Year of Localization’ and 2016 will be our ‘Year of Growth.” This highlights the importance of Uber’s localization in the year just gone and if that year wasn’t even their “year of growth” then we will surely see a massive rise in Uber cars across China in the near future.