Zipcar Reaches 1/4 of Its Users with iPhone App 8


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Ayelet Noff put up a very insightful post last week on the top five misconceptions about Social Media, which had a good answer to the “is social media only right for certain companies” question. Her answer: “Social media is right for every brand as long as the brand is able to find its target audience within a certain platform and converse/interact with it in an effective manner,” is what really got me excited about this announcement from Zipcar last week.

Yes, Zipcar is already a really, cool, consumer company. Look no further than the recent cover of Fortune. However, when we talk about finding the right social media channel to reach your customers / target audience, this is still great example.

Last week the Cambridge, MA- based, ‘car-share,’ company made news by officially announcing an iPhone app that allows its users to:

  • Find available Zipcars on a map using their current location, favorite location, or any location
  • Reserve a Zipcar anytime, anywhere
  • Sort cars by time available, car type and model
  • View upcoming reservations
  • Get directions to their Zipcar
  • Easily locate their reserved Zipcar by telling it to honk its horn
  • Unlock and lock their Zipcar after scanning their Zipcard at the start of each reservation
  • Extend or cancel reservations on the go

Sounds like great value, but what makes it truly great as a business / marketing move is the stat which Scott Griffith, Zipcar’s chairman and CEO, was using in media interviews as well as the press release. In polling their user base,  Zipcar uncovered that 25 percent had iPhones. Talk about a marketing / channel sweet spot! In addition, in an interview with Wired, their CTO noted:

“There are currently 15 million people within a block of a Zipcar service station and about 47 million iPhone customers,” he said. “We therefore estimate that our car sharing network could potentially increase to 32 million customers in years to come as a result of our new partnership and expansion into new markets.”

Zipcar is obviously on the leading edge of integrated marketing. With more than 23,000 fans on Facebook, past use of ‘social experiments’ and a broad understanding of the power of their brand advocates, their use of an iPhone isn’t necessarily surprising. However, their understanding of the new channels available to reach their target audience, and the research that brands / agencies need to put into finding the right channels, should serve as a case study for other brands.


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