Consumers increasingly demand flexibility in mobility solutions

08 September 2021 3 min. read
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A new study has found that the pandemic has left a lasting imprint on the mobility solutions market. Industry players will need to adapt their offerings and pricing in order to compensate for their lost business.

Mobility offers, also known as mobility-as-a-Service (MaaS), are an emerging type of service which enables users to plan, book, and pay for multiple types of mobility services through a joint digital channel. The pandemic has resulted in a decline in demand for this kind of transport. While lockdown prevented many people travelling regularly for leisure, business or commuting, the extended shutdown of society looks to have changed consumer behaviour even after things have opened up.

According to a new study from Simon-Kucher & Partners, mobility offer providers need to weigh up their pricing criteria now adapt to the changing nature of consumer demand. The survey took in the opinions of more than 7,000 people in China, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Russia, the US and UK. It questioned them about their travel and booking behaviour for 2021 and beyond, and found that to tap into three major market segments, operators would need to adapt their pricing strategies beyond a one-size-fits-all model.

Expected change in travel after the pandemic

Throughout the pandemic, there has obviously been a marked decrease in all forms of travel – with mobility offers also seeing demand decline under lockdown. Now, UK commuters are going to travel less as the amount of people that used to commute to work five days a week is expected to decrease from 45% to 29%. At the same time, leisure travel has also seen a decrease that will out-last the lockdown months, with the number of people taking three or four trips each week falling by 10 points to 19%.

Interestingly, business travel – which currently represents the smallest amount of mobility offers demand – is likely to increase. Of the business representatives polled by Simon-Kucher, the number expecting to travel for business more than 14 times per month rose by 7 points.  

Commenting on these changes, Lisa Neumeier, Partner at Simon-Kucher, noted, “Travel behaviour will change, which puts pressure on mobility players to maintain and grow ride volumes given the current user base. A real focus on the increasing number of business travellers, where current usage is relatively low, is recommended. Players also need to consider the needs of varying customer groups and ensure both their product and price can adapt in an agile manner as the needs of these groups change.”

Most popular urban mobility

To do this, the researchers advised that mobility offers providers needed to appreciate the importance of elements such as price, travel time, safety and hygiene, and how they differ between different user groups. While leisure respondents focus most on price, commuters pay most attention to travel time, and, business travellers focus more on safety and comfort during their trips.

While almost a decade of research has been touting the future value of car-sharing, meanwhile, this still ranks relatively lowly on consumers’ radars. When asked what they would include in their ideal season ticket for urban mobility, almost three-quarters of the respondents indicated that they preferred to use traditional public transportation such as buses, trams, trains, or the metro. Other less traditional options were far less popular, with car-sharing a distant second at 21%. The continued demand for traditional modes of public transport is an opportunity that still has not been fully exploited, however. According to Simon-Kucher, this also presents a key opportunity for mobility offers providers.

Partner Rosalind Hunter concluded, “Consumers will increasingly demand a multi-mode offering with both traditional and newer mobility solutions available within one pass or season tickets. This will incentivise traditional mobility players to form stronger connections with companies offering newer solutions, if not move to offering them themselves.”