Case Detail

Case Summary

Uber China

Case Number: 5-317-500, Year Published: 2017

HBS Number: KE1032

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Authors: Alice Tybout

Key Concepts

Competitive Strategy, Global Strategy, Marketing, Marketing Strategy, Mergers and Acquisitions, Pricing Strategy, Strategic Positioning


Uber China is a strategy pricing case that examines the role of customer acquisition tactics and brand positioning in entering the tantalizingly large Chinese market. The case adopts the perspective of an outside observer looking at Uber's efforts to compete in China from its entry in 2013 to its exit through its acquisition by Didi Chuxing, the highly dominant industry leader in China's ride-sharing market. After laying out the market opportunity, consumer and competitive landscape, and the various acquisition-related moves of Uber and the other major players, the case asks students to conduct a postmortem on Uber's failure in China. Specifically, they must consider what drew Uber to the opportunity in China and what it might have done differently in terms of positioning and customer acquisition to compete more effectively. First and foremost a pricing-related discussion, the case illustrates the relationship between pricing and acquisition tactics and brand positioning and the use of both in market entry and penetration.

Learning Objectives

After reading and analyzing the case, students will be able to qualitatively and comprehensively assess market attractiveness when considering new market entry, as well as risks and headwinds to success; identify plausible positioning options and customer acquisition approaches, appreciating the relationship between the two, using the competitive and consumer landscape; and design an optimal positioning and pricing strategy for a new acquisition.

Number of Pages: 5

Extended Case Information

Teaching Areas: Marketing

Teaching Note Available: Yes

Geographic: China

Industry: Ride-sharing

Organization Name: Uber

Year of Case: 2016