Li Hui Authors

Of Rickshaws, Cats and Uber China

April 22, 2015

Uber China is going all out to woo customers with quirky promotions. Here’s how.

Uber, the app-based transportation service, has always been a firm believer in the “less is more” philosophy. The company, which entered China in February 2014, serves nine cities across the country but employs only a dozen employees. Each local team is given an extensive amount of autonomy—and authority—to manage Uber’s business in their city.

In spite of Uber’s somewhat bumpy ride in China, its management model allows local team to be extremely flexible, something Uber badly needs to outwit rivals, particularly Kuaidi Dache and Didi Dache who recently merged to form a monopoly that dominates over 90% of China’s car-hailing service market.

The flexibility is proving to be a good thing for customers of Uber, the six-year old start-up which is called Youbu in Chinese (roughly translated, it means right step). The result is out of the box thinking and creative promotions, many of which are China-only. For instance, in August 2014, Uber launched a non-profit ridesharing program named People’s Uber in Beijing to offer Beijingers an efficient and low-cost travel option. People’s Uber essentially matches car owners with extra space in their car with those in need for a ride. This service was later expanded to other cities.

Starting from practical services like People’s Uber, the company has moved to more quirky ones. During the 2015 Chinese New Year Festival, Uber surprised spirited Chinese citizens with a bizarre offer—you could book a car and for a little extra, you could get both your ride and a private lion dance performance, especially for you.

So what else does Uber do in China? We take a look at some of quirkiest promotions Uber has launched to woo Chinese customers, and it’s ‘China-fication’ so to say.