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What is Grab? Discovering the Superapp of Southeast Asia

Founded in 2012, Grab began with a mission to empower economic growth across Southeast Asia. The Singaporean-based company aims to create a positive financial, social, and environmental impact.

Initially a ride-hailing company, Grab has evolved into becoming the leading superapp in Southeast Asia. Now, Grab offers services including food delivery, grocery and package delivery, and financial services. Today, Grab is present in over 480 towns and cities across Southeast Asia.

With over 30 million monthly transacting users (MTUs), Grab presents significant opportunities for marketers eyeing Southeast Asia. In this guide, we’ll explore Grab in detail, exploring its user preferences and providing insights into successful marketing strategies on this platform.

What is Grab?

Grab is a leading superapp in Southeast Asia, operating in over 480 cities across eight countries, including Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Philippines, and Thailand. The app offers a wide range of services, enabling millions of people every day to access ride-hailing, food and grocery delivery, and digital payments.

The company started as a ride-hailing company and was once known as the Uber of Southeast Asia. However, unlike Uber’s focus on global expansion, Grab adopted a hyperlocal strategy that allowed the company to quickly adapt its services to align with local market needs.

Eventually, with Grab’s continued traction, Uber decided to retreat from the competition for market share and sold its business in Southeast Asia to Grab in 2018.

Who Uses Grab?

According to Grab’s financial results for 2023, the platform had 35.5 million monthly transacting users (MTUs), marking an 8% YoY increase compared to the previous year. Grab’s users come from diverse demographics and socioeconomic backgrounds, and are known for their high engagement and expectations for quality service, technological efficiency, and quick responsiveness.

Among the eight countries where Grab operates, Malaysia and Singapore are the top revenue contributors, with 35.52% and 21.07% of share respectively. This is likely due to their shared border and close geographical proximity. Following these leaders are Indonesia (19.19%), the Philippines (8.72%), Thailand (7.61%), and the rest of Southeast Asia accounting for 7.89% of the revenue share.

What Do People Use Grab for?

The Grab ecosystem integrates three superapps, catering to its driver partners, merchant partners, and consumers, creating a unified platform. These superapps connect Grab’s drivers and merchants with consumers seeking hyperlocal services, covering a diverse range of needs across deliveries, mobility, and financial services.


Grab’s delivery platform is like a local logistics hub, connecting driver and merchant partners with consumers for on-demand and scheduled deliveries of daily essentials, such as ready-to-eat meals, groceries, and point-to-point package deliveries. Additionally, Grab’s acquisition of the Malaysian premium supermarket chain Jaya Grocer allows the company to extend its on-demand grocery delivery services to more consumers in the country.


Grab’s mobility services provide a range of multi-modal options, including private cars, taxis, motorcycles, and carpooling, for consumers seeking rides. Additionally, GrabRentals offers vehicle rental opportunities to its driver-partners, especially those with limited access to vehicles, enabling them to deliver services via Grab’s platform.

Financial Services

Grab combined its financial services under the new brand GrabFin in 2022, offering Grab users a single point of entry to access digital payment, lending, insurance, and investment.

Additionally, in 2020, Grab and Singtel (Singapore Telecommunications Limited) formed a consortium, securing a digital full bank license in Singapore. This led to the expansion into Malaysia, where, following regulatory approval, they launched Malaysia’s first digital bank, GXBank, in 2023.

Enterprise and New Initiatives

Grab also has a suite of enterprise offerings, such as GrabAds for advertising and marketing, GrabMaps for mapping and location-based services, and GrabDefence for anti-fraud measures. Additionally, through its platform, Grab’s partners provide lifestyle services, including flight and hotel bookings, subscriptions, and additional services tailored to specific countries.

What Do Users Like About Grab?

Many users highlight the seamless experience and user-friendly interface as the key features that make Grab stand out. Ceazar Cox stated in an app review that “Grab’s user-friendly app has made the delivery experience seamless and convenient for all users. The design and functionality of the app truly reflect [Grab’s] commitment to customer satisfaction and excellence.”

Grab’s operational excellence is a key factor in its success and user satisfaction. The company’s hyperlocal strategy has positioned Grab as a dominant player in Southeast Asia and also significantly enhanced its service quality. Marketer Jihye appreciates Grab for its consistent hailing service across most Southeast Asian countries. She points out that, “in many Southeast Asian countries, especially when traveling or on business trips, hailing services are more prevalent than public transportation. With Grab, you can enjoy seamless mobility wherever you go, without any concerns.”

User ArchNinjaa praises the drivers’ local knowledge and efficiency, emphasizing that the “driver knows exactly where to go and few words are needed.” Such precise service delivery reflects Grab’s dedication to understanding and addressing local needs.

People also appreciate Grab’s economic efficiency. Michael P shares his experience of cost savings and convenience, saying he was able to “save money on overinflated cab prices and was able to conveniently order food at 4 am without leaving [his] room.” Similarly, Ashrai Paul contrasts Grab with India’s services like Ola and Uber, which he feels are “too focused on the drivers,” and highlights Grab’s approach to providing clear information on pricing and destinations until a mutual agreement is reached.

How Does Grab Generate Revenue?

Grab’s revenue saw a 67% YoY increase in 2023, reaching $2.4 B. The revenue breakdown shows that the Deliveries segment contributed the most to the overall revenue at 50.61%, followed by Mobility at 36.84%, Financial Services at 7.8%, and Enterprise and New Initiatives at 4.75%.


Grab generates its delivery revenue mainly through commissions, earning a percentage from the total order value and delivery fees for each transaction. In 2023, Grab’s Deliveries revenue experienced an 80% YoY increase. This significant growth is primarily due to reduced incentives relative to Gross Merchandise Value (GMV), an increase in GMV, and a change in the business model for certain delivery offerings in one of its markets.


Grab’s Mobility sector generates revenue through commissions from its driver-partners and rental fees from the GrabRentals service. In 2023, this segment saw a 36% YoY increase in revenue, mainly due to the company’s strategic supply improvements across the region, which enabled Grab to capitalize on the rising ride-hailing demand of tourists and locals.

Financial services

Other than commissions, Grab’s Payment Services sector generates revenue through transaction fees from merchant partners, interest on loans extended, and discounts applied when purchasing receivables.

In 2023, this segment’s revenue grew by 159% YoY. This growth is mainly due to enhanced monetization within its payments division, increased earnings from its lending operations, and reduced expenditure on incentives.

Enterprise and new initiatives

Grab’s Enterprise & New Initiatives sector garners revenue from the direct sale of GrabAds and GrabDefence to businesses and through commissions from third-party service providers offering lifestyle services on its platform. In 2023, revenue from this segment increased by 86% YoY to $112 million, mainly driven by growing contributions from advertising.

In the fourth quarter of 2023, the number of monthly active advertisers on Grab’s self-serve platform rose by 54% YoY, while the average spending by these advertisers increased by 129% YoY, indicating a deeper penetration of advertising services among Grab’s merchant partners.

How to Market on Grab?

Grab introduced its in-house advertising platform, GrabAds, in 2018, providing businesses with a range of online advertising solutions.

Grab has developed a proprietary technology stack for GrabAds, featuring advanced ad serving, personalization, and reporting capabilities. This technology is designed to optimize advertising ROI for clients and partners while delivering relevant and engaging content to consumers on the superapp.

Masthead Ads

The Masthead Ad is displayed at the most prominent position, capturing immediate attention as soon as customers open the app. When users tap on this ad, they will be directed to the menu. The prime position makes masthead ad one of the most effective ad formats on Grab, ensuring a 100% share of voice and high recognition.

Native Ads

Native ads on Grab are displayed in the home screen feed, offering a high level of visibility and a smooth transition to the designated landing page. There are two formats available on Grab: image and video. The native image ad directs users to a Grab service or an in-app web browser via its landing page, whereas the native video ad provides two CTAs: one to play the video, and the other to visit the landing page.

In-Transit Ads (Transport & Food)

In-Transit Ads provide a unique advertising opportunity by capturing consumers’ attention during their rides or while waiting for food orders. Transport In-Transit ads appear on the in-transit screen from pickup to drop-off; similarly, Food In-Transit ads are displayed once an order is processed.

This is one of the most sought-after ad units as it targets users who have just transacted within the Grab platform, minimizing the competition for attention and enhancing ad performance.

Power Banner

Power Banner ads target GrabFood users, providing immediate visibility within the user’s delivery radius as soon as the app is opened. Advertisers can tailor their campaigns to specific audience segments and also specific times of the day that match the campaign needs. These ads are very effective, achieving up to 1% CTR and up to 3 times the average ROAS for advertisers.


In addition to the ad formats mentioned above, GrabAds also provides ad solutions such as search ads, rank boosters (i.e. Homepage Listings, Category Listings, and Cuisine Listings), and rewarded ads, catering to diverse marketing strategies and objectives.

Market on Grab with Nativex

Navigating advertising on Grab in Southeast Asia can be challenging, but it becomes much easier with the right help. Nativex provides brands and advertisers looking to grow their presence on Grab with full support.

Reach out to us today to unlock your brand’s full potential on Southeast Asia’s leading online platform.

Want to learn more about different social media app marketing in China? Take your pick from our “what is” series on Rakuten, WeChat, Xiaohongshu, Weibo, Naver, and Kwai. You can also keep your eyes on the blog for more updates as they happen.

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