Is the Middle East Hungry for UberEats?

What social media analytics can tell us about the spread of the sharing economy

Last September, UberEats, the food delivery arm of Uber, made a bit of a splash when it launched in the Middle East. The American ridesharing company has a good track record of successful international expansions, but in entering the Middle Eastern branch of UberEats, the company is facing two related problems: local competitor Talabat and the nuances of the region itself.

In this post, we’ll use social media analytics to evaluate the first months of UberEats’ presence in the Middle East as well as look more broadly at the question of how the competing forces of global and local are likely to interact in the Middle East’s adoption (or not) of the sharing economy.

Joining the Conversation
Although UberEats made some noise when it initially launched in the Middle East, it is facing an uphill battle.

Looking initially at the share of voice of both brands in the Middle East, we find that the more established brand, Talabat, appears to be winning out over UberEats, obtaining 82% of the conversation since 2015.
However, when we look closer we see that in the short time it’s been active, UberEats has already made up a lot of ground. As you can see, Talabat’s hold on the majority share of the conversation drops dramatically to sometimes as low as 10% at points in October and January. UberEats dominates the conversation share, obtaining as much as 90% of the conversation at several points since September 2016.
But conversation volume only gives us part of the picture. Another important question is: How do Middle Eastern consumers feel about the two competitors?

Local Sentiment

An examination of sentiment finds both UberEats and Talabat services turning out happy customers overall, each eliciting significantly more positive posts than negative.



Positive conversation around UberEats centers around its wide variety and free first order, while negative feedback stems mostly from delivery issues. Positive comments for Talabat focus on the app’s convenience, great customer care and service, as well as the company’s recent rebranding and app upgrade. Negative comments for Talabat revolve mostly around technical issues.  

The Geography of Meal Delivery
An interesting finding around these services comes from a marked regionalisation of their use. The graphs below depict the number of posts for each delivery service per country. While the UAE shows up in the top 3 for both companies, almost 50% of the posts about UberEats come from this region, followed distantly by Saudi Arabia with 19%. Talabat, on the other hand, sees most of it’s conversation coming from Kuwait, with 36% of the posts. This is followed by the UAE at 26%, and Bahrain at almost 20%.









As UberEats tenure in the region progresses, it will interesting to see if they will be able to continue its current rate of growth and popularity, or if they will succumb to the same post-launch pitfalls as Uber Taxi.

To find out more about how  local competitors are stacking up against international sharing economy conglomerates in the Middle East and much more, pre-register to receive our Middle East Consumer Trends Report launching March 1st, 2017 here.

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