It’s Late and You’ve Got the Munchies. Lyft and Taco Bell Have an Idea.

Taco Bell has, quite literally, found a new marketing vehicle, and its name is Lyft.

The fast-food chain is beginning a venture with the ride-sharing company this week that will allow Lyft passengers to request rides that incorporate a stop at a Taco Bell drive-through between 9 p.m. and 2 a.m.

The companies will test the option, which will appear as “Taco Mode” in the Lyft app, during the next two weeks around a Newport Beach, Calif., location, with plans to expand the program nationally next year.

It’s an attempt to tap into the trend of young people increasingly car-pooling through apps like Lyft and its larger rival Uber, particularly on nights out with friends. While Taco Bell offers delivery to customers and advertises the locations of its restaurants through the navigation app Waze, partnering with a ride-sharing company represents a new type of “experience innovation,” said Marisa Thalberg, Taco Bell’s chief marketing officer.

“I kind of think of this like inverse delivery — like we’re delivering you to Taco Bell,” she said in an interview. “You’re being delivered to the food as opposed to having to get in your own car and drive.”

As it stands, Lyft and Uber do not have stated policies about how drivers should handle passenger requests to swing by fast-food drive-throughs, though the question regularly pops up in online discussion forums for drivers.

“Several times I said no to food and they ask why and I explained what the last idiot did of making a mess and each time the present idiot would promise to not make a mess, spill, waste, etc. then they do it anyway!” one Uber driver wrote in an online forum.

Ms. Thalberg said her company had seen “a bunch of funny tweets” and other social media posts from hungry passengers on the topic, which got them thinking about a potential partnership with Lyft.

Taco Bell is not paying Lyft for the deal, which has been in the works for almost a year, Ms. Waters said. The companies are looking at the venture as “cocreating an experience together,” which cannot be evaluated the way one might look at traditional marketing efforts like television commercials and billboards, she said.

“Marketing today is so much about customer experience, not branding and advertising,” she said. “We’re really evaluating it from a surprise and delight for our consumer bases with a program like this and both meeting in the middle and developing it on both sides.”

Source: NY Times

Why It’s Hot

  • Uber used to be the partnership king, but perhaps their recent debacles have had brands thinking twice about their ride partnerships
  • Audience understanding  — experiences, not products — is the way to go.
  • It’s interesting to see how ride share, ride hire industry expands through partnerships and innovations to “own more of the user.”

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NYC Taxis Finally Have Their Own App

iphone-1@2x.9D937DA8C82A24C98213AB1F67E01ABA-308x6441A new app is helping traditional taxi cab drivers catch up with the times. Arro is a smartphone app that works like Uber, but instead lets you hail a yellow or green taxi cab and pay for it with the touch of a button.

This isn’t the fist attempt at integrating e-hailing applications amongst traditional taxis, but no effort has yet garnered enough support to challenge Uber and Lyft. But while these ride sharing giants are known for surge prices, Arro promises to eliminate the threatens to eliminate the annoying charge—a move that threatens to undercut their competitors.

There are a few other reasons why a traditional taxi app hasn’t yet gained traction in the mobile market. City legislation has made it difficult for new players to enter the game, meanwhile taxi fleets are operating by a number of different payment platforms.

In New York City, Arro indicates a break in this trend. The startup has paired up with Creative Mobile Technologies, the operator of one of NYC taxis’ main platforms, and is currently in negotiations with Verifone Systems, the company behind the other. Now, taxi drivers who use the app will be able to receive payments (and get tips) through the screens that already sit in their dashboards.

Source: PSFK

Why It’s Hot

Uber seems unstoppable these days, which has put a lot of pressure on traditional taxis to catch up with something big. Perhaps this will even the playing field — or essentially make pricing for cabs even more competitive for consumers.