Zipcar’s Community Building Is Inspiring

A recent editorial by Kevin Coupe of MorningNewsBeat.com commented on the changing face of the car rental industry since Zipcar entered the business back in 2000, and how a little over 10 years later Hertz and Enterprise slowly entered that growing niche. What’s significant about this observation is not that most companies are slow to innovate and change, nor that there’s opportunity for those who do. Rather, what feels significant is what Zipcar has done beyond simply increasing the number of cars rented.

Image from Zipcar.com

On the surface, Zipcar looks like a unique business model. Beyond that framework, however, is a community that has been created. “Members” are issued personal cards that provide vehicle access as well as discounts and other benefits. Even the way in which Zipcar describes itself promotes community:

“Zipcar is the world’s largest car sharing and car club service. It is an alternative to traditional car rental and car ownership.”

Zipcar has built its business in part by catering to college students who do not meet age requirements for regular car rentals. With a sense of ownership and responsibility to other members, as well as often sharing ‘green’ values, early-twenty-somethings become loyal to Zipcar and its fellow members.

From Fast Company:

”Zipcar’s impact on how people use cars is enormous … a survey finds that Zipcar membership means less driving, more public transportation, more exercise, and better quality of life for everyone.”

The takeaway here for both individuals and businesses is that new ways of doing business that build community can both inspire and thrive.

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