These latest Uber statistics show how it’s dominating Lyft

By Mike Sonders

Plus two striking Uber stats no one is talking about

Uber lost more than a billion dollars in the first half of 2016 thanks in large part to its outsized expansion efforts. Yet institutional investors and venture capitalists have eagerly invested in Uber, pushing the private ride-sharing company’s valuation higher than the public-market valuations of huge traditional car companies like Ford and GM.

Source: The Atlas from Quartz

Further, these investors have valued Uber many multiples higher than they’ve valued Lyft, Uber’s sole direct competitor of any note in the United States.

Why is that?

Diving into Uber statistics

In this post, we’re using app insights from SurveyMonkey Intelligence to begin to answer the question, “Do Uber metrics substantiate a valuation that’s around ten times higher than Lyft’s?”

We’re looking at the following Uber statistics and comparing them to Lyft’s, considering both the iOS and Android versions of their mobile apps among U.S. users:

What we found in this Uber vs. Lyft comparison is that Uber’s advantage indeed goes beyond having more downloads and a much-larger base of users. Relative to Lyft, Uber enjoys a much higher rate of brand-loyalty behavior from its users, who tend to have higher incomes than Lyft users.

Uber download statistics

App success starts with downloads. The more downloads (i.e., installs) a mobile app gets, the more people an app company can try to convert into active users and paying users.

In terms of downloads, Uber is trouncing Lyft right out of the gate.

Uber drove three times as many app downloads as Lyft did in the U.S. in July; 3.82 million Uber downloads vs. 1.26 million for Lyft.

Uber monthly active users (MAU)

Of course, app downloads don’t mean a thing unless people actually use the app. Many app companies measure usage in terms of monthly active users (MAU), which is the number of unique users who use the app at least once within the period of a month (or 30 days).

Uber also outperforms Lyft in terms of usage, with more than four times as many Uber monthly active users vs. Lyft in July.

Uber / Lyft user overlap

An indicator of brand loyalty

Of course, app users who need a ride from one place to another aren’t limited to using just one of the ride-sharing apps. Presumably, some people who are interested in optimizing for price and availability for every ride they take will check both apps.

But are smartphone users completely brand-agnostic when it comes to ride-sharing apps? The answer is a definitive no. Uber app users are significantly more brand-loyal in their behavior than Lyft users. While only 11% of Uber users also used Lyft in July, a whopping 71% of Lyft users also used Uber.

Here are a few of the major factors that can typically explain a large disparity in usage and brand loyalty between competitors like this:

  • Awareness. Uber certainly has larger coffers than Lyft thanks to its nearly $15 billion in fundingas of June, 2016 (versus “just” a few billion dollars in funding for Lyft). So Uber could very well be spending much more aggressively on marketing to create awareness.
  • Pricing. Uber and Lyft have been competing ruthlessly on price, and generally end up charging about the same. There are some differences between the two companies related to price (e.g., the two communicate surge pricing differently), but pricing doesn’t appear to be the area that can explain the large disparity in usage and brand loyalty.
  • Availability. As will be mentioned in the “market share” section of this post, there could be many geographic areas in which Uber offers service where Lyft does not, which is what Lyft claims. However, these claims don’t match up with figures on their respective websites, so it’s unclear how much service availability is affecting rates of usage and user overlap.
  • Brand perception. There are at least tens of things about a brand–including the experience of interacting with the brand–that can attract or repel different consumer segments. Perhaps, to some extent, Lyft suffers from brand perception when compared to Uber. Lyft used to adorn their cars with arguably silly-looking, big, pink mustaches, and expected riders to ride in the front passenger seat, whereas Uber treated their riders more like esteemed guests of a town car. Either of these distinguishing characteristics of Lyft’s brand experience could have alienated a more serious/professional segment of people in the market.

Uber demographics — income and age

Diving into Uber demographics data on its users, we uncover another one of its inherent advantages: Uber users tend to have higher incomes than Lyft users.

As you can see in the graph, a higher proportion of Lyft user vs. Uber users have incomes under $50 thousand. Meanwhile, Uber has a higher proportion of its users vs. Lyft in both the $50k-100k and >$100k segments.

It seems safe to say that Uber users in the U.S. generally have a higher ability to pay (ATP) in the U.S. vs. Lyft users, which is generally an attractive quality for any business’s audience to have.

Meanwhile, Uber’s users tend to skew older than Lyft’s users. Age tends to correlate with incomeup to a certain point, so this isn’t terribly surprising given the user income profiles we see above.

Many companies prefer to develop brand loyalty earlier in a consumer’s life, since–in very simple terms–it gives the company more time to sell, cross-sell, and up-sell the consumer over his or her life.

In this respect, Lyft appears to have a slight advantage… but only if Uber doesn’t push them out of the market, first.

Uber growth rate

In terms of monthly active users, Uber app data shows it had an average month-to-month growth rate of 6.6% over the last three months. Over the same period, Lyft had an average (negative) growth rate of -2.0%.

It’s somewhat impressive that Uber is still generating growth in the U.S. The ride-sharing market has saturated almost all major U.S. metropolitan areas (except those where no ride-sharing services are allowed), with both Uber and Lyft having spent aggressively on awareness campaigns in the past few years.

Recently Uber growth rates have outpaced Lyft’s, but beyond that, we can’t jump to any strong conclusions about these growth numbers. Usage can vary from month to month based on several factors including promotions and holidays. A much longer time horizon would probably provide a more definitive picture.

Uber market share

Lyft claims to have been gaining share of “the top 20 markets” in the U.S., securing a market share of 20% in major U.S. cities.

In terms of active users, our data shows that Uber does in fact own a much larger share of the market. This is whether you’re considering just the people who already use ride-sharing apps or all of the people who use smartphones, which is the total potential audience for ride-sharing apps.

Note that the graph above considers the total market of people who use any kind of ride-sharing app (e.g., Uber, Lyft, Via, Flywheel, Hailo) or car-sharing app (e.g., Turo, Zipcar, Getaround, car2go). Even with this generous definition of the ride-/car-sharing market, Uber dominates, with 89% of the market using Uber at least once in July.

Lyft claimed in August, 2016 that Uber serves a higher number of “markets” in the U.S., which would partly explain Uber’s overall dominance of ride-sharing metrics in the U.S. However! Lyft claims on its website to offer service in more than 225 U.S. cities, which is 22% more than the 184 cities in which Uber claims to operate. Of course, either or both websites could be out of date, and/or Lyft could be using a favorable definition of “markets,” so it’s somewhat unclear how badly Uber is trouncing Lyft on an average per-market basis.

An impressive 8.4% of all U.S. smartphone owners who used any app in July used Uber at least once. Uber already owns a healthy chunk of the addressable market, yet still has a lot of room to grow.

Lyft also has a lot of room to grow, but–as is already becoming clear and will become clearer–Uber is crowding it out of the total addressable market and Uber / Lyft market share heavily favors the former.

Uber engagement rates

In terms of Uber engagement rates, there really isn’t a major difference in how frequently people use it vs. Lyft (at least not in light of the huge differences in number of users).

On average, Lyft and Uber users engage with each respective app on a little over four days out of the month.

Conclusion

Uber has raised massive funds and has operated at seven-figure losses to expand its business and dominate its markets. It’s way too soon to know whether those investments in Uber or its spending will pay off with eventual robust profitability.

But at least we know that Uber’s sky-high valuations aren’t propped up by app-usage vanity metrics in the U.S. market; Uber gets several million app downloads per month, around 15 million (and gradually growing) monthly active users, and–as the icing on the cake–affluent users who demonstrate brand loyalty.

At least regarding these Uber statistics, the war vs. Lyft has already been won.

This post originally appeared on August 26, 2016 on the blog of SurveyMonkey Intelligence, a provider of competitive intelligence for the mobile app industry.

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