In my last blog post, I wrote about the wisdom of Avis’ purchase of Zipcar for $500 million and the challenge that each company faces to become a brand based company like Zipcar.
Now that Avis owns Zipcar, what’s their next move?
It’s important to remember that Avis bought Zipcar for its brand/trademark and the company’s strong connection with its younger customers.
Also, Avis has numerous cars left unrented on weekends, while Zipcar rents most of its cars on weekends.
A match made in heaven? It depends on what Avis does next.
Avis just paid $500 million. What’s the next move?
Option 1: Avis rebrands Zipcar as “Avis Right Now” or something similar with the Avis name included. Hertz has something similar called Hertz on Demand®.
Avis Right Now
On weekends, Avis moves its cars out of the Avis lots and parks them in the existing Zipcar lots waiting for pickup. The cars are Avis branded. This is the “easy” solution, but it could kill the brand, and the $500million they just spent.
Option 2: Avis keeps the Zipcar brand. Same color, same logo, same everything. The world knows that Avis now owns Zipcar, but they never mention it in advertising.
During the evening, Avis agents strip all Avis stickers and other brand identifiers from each car and apply Zipcar stickers instead. Then, the agents drive the cars to the Zipcar lots, most likely with the headlights off.
So, what is the best option?
The answer is simple. If Avis selects Option 1, it will have instantly kissed goodbye to $500 million. Zipcar drivers are loyal to the Zipcar idea. Why would it want to try to take them back in time to Avis-of-old?
If Microsoft were to buy Google, would it rename its search tool as Bing?
There is also a follow on to Option 2, which will never be mentioned in the corporate halls of Avis. We will call it “Option 2+”. Follow Option 2, and as the Zipcar generation acquires corporate jobs in approximately 3-5 years, rebrand the entire company as Zipcar. If it goes that way, then he $500M will be a bargin price.
Personally, I would start with Option 2 and see if Option 2+ makes sense sometime in the future.