Brand Wars: ORide vs Gokada

Industry competition is an age long Occurrence in the world of business and customers have grown accustomed to watching brands metaphorically go to war against one another for the ultimate prize of customer loyalty and revenue. While we are distracted by popular rivalries such as Coca-Cola vs Pepsi, Uber vs Bolt (formerly Taxify), Shoprite vs Spar etc., there appears to be a new but intense rivalry gaining momentum in Nigeria’s commercial capital Lagos State.

This welterweight battle features two motorcycle hailing applications; Gokada and OPay’s new feature, ORide. The essence of coming up with a Unique Selling Point, Value Proposition, Positioning statements, Marketing campaigns etc., for your business is to consciously and subconsciously differentiate your brand from your competitors in the mind of your target audience. This is no ordinary task. A lot of Nigerian companies make the mistake of tying the larger part of their marketing to the core benefits of their product or business.

This will pose a big challenge in the long run as there will always be another company that does what you do, maybe even better. Imagine Apple spent all its marketing budget for the iPhone telling users that the iPhone is a smartphone they can use to make calls. Depending on how much they spend, they can achieve the same level of awareness, but it would do nothing for them when a more affordable smartphone goes to market because they did not invest in a clear market differentiation strategy.

Let’s go back to our focus. Gokada began operation around January 2018 while ORide launched in May 2019. This rivalry though recent offers a myriad learning opportunity for businesses to learn from. From funding to customer acquisition strategies, to branding and even fleet management, this rivalry has all the makings of a corporate Floyd Mayweather – Manny Pacquiao bout. Very quickly let’s call this fight;

In the trademarked words of Michael Buffer, “Let’s get ready to rumble…”

Round 1: Customer Acquisition Gokada started off with 100 bikes offering trips to students of University of Lagos (UNILAG) within the Yaba area. Initial trips with Gokada were subsidized to ensure they were cheaper than the regular “okada” and this helped in gathering an initial mass of young vibrant customers groomed as brand evangelists to spread the good news that is Gokada.

Over a short period, 100 bikes grew to 1000 bikes and 5,000 rides grew to 1million rides across Lagos. Gokada grew her customer base carefully utilizing cheaper fares, experiential activations, celebrity influencers and a number of Below The Line initiatives. ORide was nowhere near as patient with their customer acquisition strategy. They brought the might of their war chest to the battlefield and offered a whooping flat rate of “NGN100” per trip to anywhere in Lagos upon the first signup. It didn’t end there, customers got as high as 60% discounts for getting a friend to sign up on the app. They also announced regular bonuses and discount codes to customers who used the app frequently. In no time at all, they succeeded in migrating a significant percentage of the market to their platform, some of whom previously patronized other bike hailing applications including Gokada. Talk about aggressive. In the words of international superstar Davido, “My brother in this life, have money or you go suffer”.

Round 2: Ancillary Benefits Gokada has implemented and is constantly upgrading different benefits and sub-products around her core service which is “Two-wheeled Transportation” aimed at improving its loyalty/retention rate with both her direct customers (Riders) and their secondary customers (Passengers). Before I go into the details of these benefits, you may be confused as to why I say Gokada’s direct customers are the Riders, not the passengers. Allow me to explain because this will help you better understand their investments in ancillary benefits and services.

Business 101 teaches us that your primary customers are your paying customers. People directly responsible for the revenue stream of your business are your primary customers while people whose activities have the potential to affect your revenue source in one way or the other are still stakeholders/ customers nonetheless but on a secondary level. Gokada charges a flat fee of NGN3,000 daily to all their riders to be featured on their app! All payments for trips go directly to the rider and not Gokada.

The basic description of this model is; drivers pay to be listed on the Gokada app, Gokada connects riders with passengers and passengers pay riders directly for the service. This is slightly different from the Uber/Bolt m o d e l w h e r e transportation fares are split between the company and the riders. The implication of this is that the drivers have become the primary customers of Gokada and Gokada must make conscious effort to get multiple riders to sign up to their platform to boost revenue. The number 1 apparent benefit to riders for using Gokada is that it operates a “rent-to-own” scheme where riders get to own the Gokada bike after 1 year but between me and you something smells fishy here but you won’t hear it from me Other benefits to the drivers include pension plans, recreational services, and health services.

Passengers stand to benefit from additional services such as G-Boat, a boat hailing service that seeks to exploit water transportation in partnership with Lagos boats. Other benefits include their regular Gokada parties,“Gokada Campus” activations and regular giveaways they do on their social media platforms. ORide. This is where it gets a little more interesting. You see, ORide itself is an ancillary benefit to a larger platform, OPay. OPay is a payment platform aiming to be an all-in-one utility app for Nigerians. This simply means once you go searching for “ORide”, you end up finding a treasure trove of features and services you didn’t even know you needed. It’s crazy! From the same app, you can book your ORide, you can order food, you can transfer money, you can pay utility bills and so much more. Rumor has it that some riders are being “incentivized” to drop some competitor platforms and signup to ORide. By Whom you might wonder? The sheer variety of offerings on OPay has created a whole universe of ancillary benefits for ORide.

Round 3: User Experience Let me apologize in advance if my bias sticks out a bit in this round as I ’ve used the two platforms and boy do I feel like giving someone a piece of my mind. Gokada invests significant resources to train all their riders in proper customer engagement etiquettes, traffic rules, and crisis management. This already gives them a head start in terms of securing positive customer experience. After reading through 50 Gokada online reviews, a whopping 85% were positive reviews, the majority of which spoke on the “polite” nature of the riders. This is a big win for Gokada and if they continue to invest in excellent customer experience, they stand a chance of staring off aggressive competition in the market.

ORide: It’s really too early to give an accurate picture of the ORide experience. 99% of the online reviews are still centered around the euphoria of the “killer bargain” passengers are experiencing in terms of their transport fares when using the service. One passenger went from Lagos mainland to Lekki and was charged NGN78. NGN78 ladies and gentlemen, in this Buhari economy. It’s safe to say till these rounds of outrageous promos end, OPay passengers can’t clearly recognize faults in the service if any exists.

In conclusion, this article is still evolving as both players attempt to outdo one another for market share. The battle is only just begun. However, in my opinion, it’s better to be safe than sorry, call in the marketing experts and let’s help you draft and implement an iron tight market differentiation strategy for your product that can withstand any corporate whale.