Uber Shifts Gears in Spain to Build Brand

Uber is an agile marketer and tenacious competitor.

The company is known for disrupting (positively, for the public) the taxi/car ride industry.

Whether by design or not, Uber has demonstrated many agile for marketing characteristics, including being flexible, experimental, empowering and customer focused.  As I’ll explain, Uber also seems to have a strong, clear vision that’s aligned with adaptive execution.  (Thanks to Barre Hardy of CMG Partners, and her recent webinar introduction to the agile for marketing concept.)

Vision and execution bring me to what Uber is doing in Spain.  

In December 2014, a Spanish court ruled that Uber could no longer operate its UberPop car sharing service in Barcelona.  Instead of being hamstrung, the company made a smart and creative brand-building pivot.  Uber switched gears to nurture its developing brand equity and maintain its business platform foothold.

In February, the company launched UberEats.

UberEATS - Barcelona, Spain. Translation: From hungry to happy in 10 minutes. Photo Credit: Uber.

UberEATS – Barcelona, Spain. Translation: From hungry to happy in 10 minutes. Photo Credit: Uber.

According to the intro blog post, UberEATS is “an on-demand food delivery service that gets you the best meals from the best local restaurants in under 10 minutes.”  (Uber has a similar Uber Fresh service in Los Angeles).

Here’s how Uber is executing the strategy:

  • “Together with Plateselector, one of Barcelona’s best foodie guides, UberEATS works with the best local restaurants to create a changing selection of lunch and dinner meals that you can get delivered within ten minutes and to an address of your choice.
  • UberEATS smartphone app - Barcelona, Spain. Photo Credit: Uber.

    UberEATS smartphone app – Barcelona, Spain. Photo Credit: Uber.

    To order, just open your Uber app and tap the UberEATS icon, enter your delivery location and then select your meal on the daily menu. Uber will send your request to a driver who will deliver your meal from a local restaurant. You can watch your meal arrive in real-time, so you’ll know exactly when to meet the driver for delivery.”


Uber’s strategy is impressive for long-term business development and brand-building.

They’re taking a core competency – custom delivery from point A to point B, via an easy-to-use smartphone app – and building an extendable branded service platform.  The food delivery service may end up being a standalone success, or a tactical path to a more lucrative business objective.

The financial markets think highly of the potential:  “investors have valued Uber at $41 billion, in part based on their belief that Uber can become a full-fledged logistics and delivery company.  In addition to food delivery services, Uber has also experimented with bike messengers in New York City and shopping delivery in Washington, D.C.”  (Lisa Fleisher – The Wall Street Journal)

Instead of calling it quits in Barcelona, Uber pivoted.  It was strategically relevant for the corporation and for the brand vis-a-vis consumers.  Uber will be well-positioned for the day when regulations permit the re-booting of its car service.

Uber in Spain:  Five Takeaways I Like and You Can Use

  1. Apply (smartly) go-to-market agility and adaptability
  2. Take a longer view about brand-building (while understanding that other revenue streams or investments may be required to get there)
  3. Pivot is not a 4-letter word when done strategically (even if it doesn’t work to plan, capture the learning and apply it going forward)
  4. Think about your products and services in terms of “platforms” (can be a helpful brand management mindset)
  5. Don’t fear change.  Embrace the opportunities it can provide.

Harvey Chimoff is a marketing and business team leader who drives performance in consumer products and manufacturing companies.

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