The ride-hailing race between Lyft and Uber just got more interesting. Lyft filed for an IPO on March 1st, beating Uber to the punch as the first ride-hailing company to take steps towards going public. On top of that, some analysts even say that in the ride-hailing market, Lyft is a better investment than Uber.

While their ridesharing services are relatively similar, their customer/fan bases differ. CivicScience took a look at service preference of the two and what that might mean for the space moving forward – especially when it comes to the audience Lyft has already captured and who they’d need to win over to gain more market share.

First, a look at the overall favorite ride-hailing app among U.S. adults. CivicScience polled over 1,400 adults in the U.S. who use ride-hailing services to see if there was an overall preference between the two main players. Even though Lyft has doubled its market share since 2016, they haven’t quite beat Uber. Over half of U.S. adult rideshare users prefer Uber, while Lyft has won over around 22%. Nearly 1/4th don’t have a strong preference between the two.

Brand Loyalty

Favorability results are echoed in the charts below that look at Uber and Lyft users separately. CivicScience trending data shows a turn in the customer bases of both ride-hailing giants. It turns out that rideshare service users are becoming more loyal to one brand over the other.

Between March 2018 and August 2018, the data show that 82% of those who used Lyft also used Uber. Now (within the last 6 months) less Lyft users are also using Uber (73%).

This same divide is true for Uber: Back then, 48% of Uber users were also using Lyft. Now, that number has declined to only 37%.

Even though customers of both are becoming more brand-loyal, Lyft customers are still more likely to use Uber than Uber customers are to use Lyft. In order for Lyft to make gains in market share, they’ll have to break this polarization to gain more of the ride-hailing population’s loyalty.

Lyft fans vs Uber fans

CivicScience studied the Lyft and Uber customer bases. Lyft will need to make inroads into Uber’s demographic as well as with those who don’t have a preference between the two if they want to gain greater market share.

Both Uber and Lyft have won over Millennial and Gen X (18-34 and 35-54) rideshare users as the majority of both customer bases. Boomers prefer Uber: They are twice as likely to prefer Uber over Lyft. Looking ahead, the good news for Lyft is that the youngest demographic is over half of Lyft’s user base. They’ll need to continue to win over both of these groups, but keeping the Millennial demographic’s loyalty will be crucial moving forward.

While Uber has a larger fleet, both are accessible in most cities and suburbs. CivicScience found those who live in the suburbs are much more likely to prefer Uber while city-dwellers make up the majority of Lyft’s base.

Investments in AI

Both Uber and Lyft have made seemingly large investments in autonomous vehicle technology with the goal of making rides cheaper and more efficient. Per Lyft’s IPO filing, Lyft plans to use AV investments to deliver a portion of rides on the Lyft platforms within the next 5 years. Over the next decade, they plan for the majority of Lyft rides to be from self-driving cars.

But there isn’t a significant difference between how each company’s fans perceive the new technology:

Given that nearly ¾ of U.S. adults are not at all comfortable with self-driving cars, Lyft will need to be the first to establish and maintain trust with their user base in order to lead the way with launching self-driving ride-hailing fleets. One piece of good news for Lyft is that younger U.S. adults – over half of Lyft’s fan base – are the most likely to have a positive outlook for autonomous tech.

If there’s anything certain in the ride-hailing market, the fight for market share will continue among Lyft and Uber. As Lyft works to gain more of the ride-hailing market, we’ll be tracking brand loyalty and what types of consumers change their preferences over time.