The Uber phenomenon

Traditional taxi drivers hate it, but there’s no escaping the fact that mobile ride-hailing service Uber is on the rise in Australia. And as the latest results from Roy Morgan Research reveal, its popularity is being driven by tech-savvy younger Australians, with older and less digitally inclined Aussies less keen to jump on board.

Uber The Local Mid WestBetween July and December last year, 5.1% of Australians 14+ (or 989,000 people) reported travelling by Uber at least once in any given three-month period. Almost three quarters of them were aged between 18 and 34, while less than 10% were aged 50 and older.

Just over one million Australians (or 5.3%) have downloaded the Uber app, and again, it’s the younger age brackets that comprise the lion’s share of downloaders: more than six in every 10, of them, in fact. Furthermore, of the 555,000 Australians (2.8%) who use their Uber app on their mobile phone in an average four weeks, more than two-thirds are from the 18-24 and 25-34 year-old age groups.

Uber’s adoption rates vary between the states, with Western Australians embracing the app/ service with particular enthusiasm. Not only do 10.5% of them travel by Uber in any given three months (more than double the national average), 7.6% have downloaded the Uber app and 4.3% use the app on their mobile phone in an average four weeks. The fact that a higher proportion are travelling by Uber than have downloaded the app indicates that many of WA’s Uber passengers travel with others who have not yet downloaded the app themselves.

Despite remaining illegal in Victoria, the state’s residents are the second-most likely to travel by Uber in an average three-month period (5.3%). When it comes to downloading the app, Queens-landers follow WA residents – although like Victoria, the company is also illegal in the Sunshine State.

Tasmania and South Australia remain relatively oblivious to the Uber phenomenon.

Michele Levine, CEO, Roy Morgan Research, says:

“Just like the equally ground-breaking start-up, Airbnb, Uber was founded in San Francisco and has since spread like wildfire around the globe, often causing consternation among established taxi com-panies and governments wrestling with its legal implications. While NSW and ACT have legalised and regulated Uber, and WA is on the way to doing the same, other states have not yet welcomed it (which hasn’t prevented it from operating in those states). “

“Since its late-2012 launch in Sydney, Uber has gone nationwide, with WA leading the country in Uber uptake. As we have shown above, younger Aussies (aged under 35) are far more likely than their older counterparts to travel by Uber and download the app: hardly surprising, given that most of them have grown up with digital technology.

“Despite the concerns of traditional taxi drivers, Uber does not yet pose a threat to their market dominance — around a quarter of the population still travel by taxi in an average three months. However, we will be monitoring closely how/if this changes in the coming year. In the meantime, taxi companies wishing to compete in this dramatically shifting scene would do well to identify those individuals who are least likely to switch to Uber and focus some concerted attention on ensuring their continued custom.”

Uber - Nielsen
Uber users and app-downloads broken down by age.
(Source: Roy Morgan Single Source (Australia), July–December 2015, n=7,427. Base: Australians 14+)
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