Zipcar and Avis can be a success…if

Tom Dougherty, CEO – Stealing Share

3 January 2013

Zipcar is an interesting addition to a changing environment

With the acquisition of Zipcar underway by Avis Budget group, Avis should take this time to consider how closely the Zipcar should be integrated. The joining of Avis, a traditional car rental company, and Zipcar, a car sharing company in which members pay for access to a network of Zipcar vehicles (located throughout large cities such as Portland and Chicago), is a match that makes sense from a business sense but one that will need more attention from a brand sense.

From a business sense Zipcar’s can expand its fleet easily with vehicles already in use by Avis, and Zipcar can help Avis diversify itself a bit from rental competitors like Hertz.  However, things are a bit less cut and dry when it comes to brand. From a brand perspective Avis is about utility and Zipcar is about a lifestyle.

“Avis needs to find the emotional thread that is shared between the Avis customer and the Zipcar member and should use that intensity to bridge the two brands.”

zipcar brand avis brandThe brand considerations are more about context than anything else. Take for example the Avis customer. They are someone in a position in which a car rental has become a necessity.

Its all about context

The context in which they choose the Avis brand is most likely at an airport and in that moment, either due to business or vacation, a rental vehicle is needed. Zipcar on the other hand is about the day-to-day. Zipcar is for the city dweller where vehicle ownership might simply be impractical. The end result for an Avis customer and a Zipcar member might be the same (each gains use of a car for a period of time), but the context is very different.

There is certainly a commonality between Avis and Zipcar, and from an acquisition standpoint, it should not have many people scratching their heads as to why. But speaking as someone who first sees brand implications and then business implications, Avis needs to find the emotional thread that is shared between the Avis customer and the Zipcar member and should use that intensity to bridge the two brands. The fact that the two companies rent cars should simply be  filler.

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