On July 25, the leading fast food taco joint announced its partnership with the ride sharing app famous for the pink mustaches. The new service, called “Taco Mode”, allows Lyft riders to make a detour to the nearest Taco Bell to get their Cheesy Gordita Crunch action on during their ride.
The move is aimed, presumably, at the bar scene crowd looking to satisfy their late night cravings on their way home.
It’s an ingenious idea from a marketing perspective. But what about as an actual service? Could this move have longevity in the roller coaster rideshare app market? Or is it a PR stunt that might not catch on?
Social listening data can help us look at the massive world of online conversation to help uncover the truth. But first, let’s look at how this partnership shakes out for each brand:
Lyft gaining ground on Uber
In the up-and-down world of ridesharing apps, recent reports have Lyft closing in on Uber from a growth and earnings perspective. Lyft has long lagged far behind its U.S. rival. And while it still falls well short in its most recent quarterly earnings, there are some signs that Lyft is moving in the right direction.
Sentiment and emotional analysis shows it has some advantages over Uber when it comes to the audience sentence distribution and in themes such as expectation, quality, service and purchase intent.
As Uber fights reputation management issues, employee strife and company harassment investigations that saw the exit of its CEO in June, Lyft is enjoying a nice uptick in user growth. It surpassed $1 Billion in quarterly earnings for the first time earlier this year, and it saw a surge in new business when Uber got caught in a politically-influenced exodus from a group of protesters who popularized the #DeleteUber hashtag. In June, Lyft began averaging 1 million rides served per day.
Still, Uber dwarfs Lyft from a market share perspective. Lyft is looking for innovative ways to grow its brand loyalty and fan base, and a good partnership with a rock solid brand might be their best opportunity yet.
Taco Bell leads quick service restaurants in online volume and popularity
Taco Bell is one of the leading restaurant brands in the world, and our latest industry report on the Quick Service Restaurant (QSR) industry indicates just that. Amongst the competition in fast-food chains, you can see the Bell beats out buns and fries pretty handily. Here’s a comparison of share of online voice between the five leading QSR brands:
T-Bell has a knack for drumming up enthusiasm for their brand using quality ad campaigns, PR efforts and innovative technologies. In doing so, they’ve garnered a passionate following, especially in the younger generations, fitting nicely with Lyft’s target audience.
Demographically speaking, it’s clear that both companies are targeting similar customers. Knowing that, you can see just why such a partnership makes sense for both brands:
Joining forces, both companies appear to be poised to reach the consumers who are most likely to be purchasing from them, which is why from a marketing standpoint, this is a pretty nifty idea. But how do the consumers really feel? Let’s take a look at the audience analysis.
A partnership made in heaven for late night riders
Innovative branding is one of Taco Bell’s calling cards, and teaming up with a popular rideshare app is a great way for them to keep reaching their millennial customers and also drive late night business, something less easy to contribute to if you can’t get behind the wheel.
Many fans expressed excitement about “Taco Mode”. If you’ve ever experienced a Crunch Wrap Supreme at 2 a.m., you’re probably one of those people.
Looking at the social media listening data, sentiment skews pretty heavily in favor of the news. Post volume and positive sentiment both went up on the day of announcement:
Lyft drivers are not fans
One *big* caveat to this news is how well it’s been received from a pretty critical group of people: the drivers. And it’s clear, they are far from enthused.
News stories in the aftermath of the announcement have shown that the Lyft employees who provide the rides are pretty upset that they have to go out of the way to the drive-thru to order food for their passengers.
Now, it does appear that there is some financial gain at stake for the driver, however it also cuts into their scheduling, delaying their ability to pick up new customers.
On top of that, drivers didn’t exactly sign up to be personal chauffeurs, having to place orders at fast food chains and drive away from their route to do so. That absolutely makes sense. Lyft did issue a response to the complaints, stating that the service is completely optional for drivers to participate in.
It remains unclear whether or not the uproar from the driver community will be enough to sink the program. But the reaction from these employees has been more negative than from Lyft's customers.
The jury’s still out
Lyft has taken a big step forward in its quality brand partnerships. The Bell has an opportunity to continue its strong connections with younger audience members. However, the “Taco Mode” service isn’t exactly foolproof. It has some hurdles to jump if it wants to be a successful PR campaign, not the least of which the satisfaction of Lyft’s employees.
But Lyft is pushing the edge of innovation by attempting to establish a stronger base, a direct challenge to its top competitor. Uber, itself, has teamed up with McDonald’s to offer similar services. Lyft is taking its rival head on, and as Micky-D’s appears to be slumping with younger buyers, it may have chosen a stronger partner.
This crazy stunt just might turn out for these companies. But what remains extremely vital for brands like Lyft and Taco Bell is that they closely and precisely monitor the online conversation, and listen to the audiences who they’re trying to reach. This is the only way they can remain relevant to passionate and loyal customers.
Header Image source: Lyft