You won't believe what Uber Eats is doing with your data

Elizabeth Leigh in Growth hacking on 10th of Dec 2018
data driven marketing examples

Data-driven marketing examples

A new, virtual restaurant

What comes first: the burger or the restaurant? In most cases, if you answered “restaurant,” you’d be correct. But in the case of Uber Eats, you’d be sorely mistaken.

Uber Eats, the food-delivery branch of Uber has a new marketing strategy that’s focused purely on customer data. Its data-driven focus places the burger before the restaurant. The company digs through its customer's data, looking at past order history to find common trends in buying behavior.

In Brooklyn, New York, Uber Eats uncovered a high demand for burgers. So, instead of setting up a brick-and-mortar burger store, Uber Eats established a virtual restaurant to serve customers through its delivery app.

The virtual restaurant is called The Brooklyn Burger Factory, but in reality, it’s a small local cafe called Gerizim Cafe. This local cafe makes burgers from its kitchen and ships them to drivers who work for Uber Eats. Customers of The Brooklyn Burger Factory never step foot in a physical restaurant, instead, they sit at home, in front of the T.V, devouring a burger that was not made because of an ingenious recipe, but because of data.

“We have to let human insights within the app lead so we can disrupt in marketing as well as we did with the app experience itself,” says Kelly McConville, Uber’s Head of Social Media and Content for EMEA.

In 2018, Uber Eats recorded 1,600 online-only virtual restaurants in 300 cities around the world. This number is expected to grow next year as more customers use the app and the demand for instant food delivery increases.

Data-powered dining

While it may seem that Uber Eats could run established restaurants out of business, the reality is quite the opposite. Last year, the delivery app launched Uber Eats Restaurant Manager, a platform that serves restaurants with actionable, customer data. This new tool enables Uber’s restaurant partners to manage their day-to-day operations and make data-driven decisions based on customer feedback and recommendations.

There’s nothing like going out for a dinner date at a restaurant, which a virtual restaurant can’t (at least yet) replace. The Uber Eats Restaurant Manager is all about empowering restauranters to make better decisions when it comes to food menus and customer service.

“Better data leads to better food and service, which means better business,” says Chetan Narain, Product Manager of Uber Eats.

Location-based marketing

Uber Eats is the fastest-growing third-party delivery service in the U.S. This year alone, it has processed over $6 billion in food orders. The growth of the company comes down to the strategic way it utilizes customer data.

The Brooklyn Burger Factory is not the only marketing strategy Uber Eats has up its sleeve. It markets to commuters not just based on their food preferences but based on their location data. When a customer orders a ride, Uber already know their location, destination and time of day. This data enables Uber to localize food-delivery and change their marketing strategy to suit the behavior of people living in different countries, states and towns.

Manan Javeri, Head of Launch at UberEATS in India, says Uber is using data to target consumers based on their travel choices. “For example, we have seen Uber usage increase on Saturday evenings and Sunday mornings, so we know people are stepping out for leisure or entertainment, and we try and translate that into food preferences. That’s the link we are working on.”

Dish-first: a relentless focus on the customer

Uber is constantly looking at how data can help personalize every customer interaction. Already, Uber knows a customer’s order history, physical location, order time and browser behavior. As soon as a customer opens the app, Uber Eats can predict what they want to eat and where they want to eat.

Uber Eats is also going beyond just suggesting restaurants —  highlighting popular dishes based on a customer’s location and their order history. From day-to-day, a customer’s preference may change, and this data helps Uber Eats determine the quality of dishes and gaps in the fast-food industry.

According to Jason Droege, Head of Uber Everything, customers are now looking for specific dishes, rather than restaurants. This shift in consumer behavior helped the app create a new “dish-first” recommendation approach.

In combination with virtual restaurants, Uber Eats drives orders and flexible food options with digital menus. Customers are no longer locked into a physical menu designed by a restaurant that only changes it’s food options once a year. Now, they have the choice to pick and choose a meal that’s based on their buying behavior and not linked to restaurant menus.

“You go to Amazon or any e-commerce website and there’s dynamic content there,” says Droege. “They change things based on what they may or may not know about you to try and get you what you want faster. That hasn’t really happened in the food delivery space.”

Uber Eats is just one example of a company making clever use of their customer data. Today, all companies are automatically collecting data, from user logins to subscription sign-ups. But knowing what to do with data is where the challenge lies. Explore more ways to activate your customer data with our article: Data-driven tactics that will turbocharge your marketing.

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