Acquiring Zipcar: Brand Building in the Share Economy

Acquiring Zipcar: Brand Building in the Share Economy (2012) Boston University School of Management Case (Fournier, Eckhardt and Bardhi)

Griffith knew that the counter-cultural success of his car sharing model could be upset if Zipcar were to be acquired by a Avis, a staple of the auto industry. This said, perhaps Zipcar’s purchase by the “big guys” would signal the greatest success that car sharing could imagine? According to Clayton Lane, COO of EMBARQ, the WRI Center for Sustainable Transport, and co-founder of PhillyCarShare in Philadelphia, an acquisition by Avis “might just spawn innovation and allow Zipcar to think big again.” The Avis deal could offer improved convenience to Zipcar members, who would gain access to Avis’s massive fleet on weekends, when Zipcar was usually short of cars and Avis was short on customers. Zipcar should enjoy significant savings on insurance and fleet purchases, promising better financial sustainability as well. It was hard to know, but a decision was needed fast. Thinking about growth and sustainability going forward, what was the best thing for the business? What was the best thing for the brand? Could Griffith reconcile these two goals? How? What should Griffith do?

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