Car share service uses sponsorship to acquire new members and engage current customers.
While the U.S. car sharing industry over the past two years has been transformed into a subsidiary of the country’s car rental industry, Daimler AG is taking a go-it-alone approach for its car2go service.
And sponsorship is playing a significant marketing role for the company.
Car2go—which piloted its service in Ulm, Germany in 2008—entered the North American market in November 2009 in Austin, Texas. The company has since expanded into 10 other cities—Calgary, Miami, Portland, Seattle, Vancouver, etc.—as well as last month’s launch In Minneapolis.
The one-way car sharing service features Daimler's iconic Smart Fortwo vehicles.
As a new service, car2go uses sponsorship to educate consumers about its transportation solution in a one-to-one environment.
The company spearheads deals out of local offices. For example, car2go Seattle has signed a handful of ties over the past ten months to generate a buzz following its December 2012 launch. Deals include the Groupon Bite of Seattle, Northwest Folklife Festival and the University District Street Fair.
The company uses on-site vehicle displays to engage attendees, said Kristina Bindi, marketing and sales supervisor with car2go Seattle, noting that the company operates roughly 500 blue and white smart cars in the Jet City.
“When we have a physical presence at events, people say ‘gosh, I have seen your cars. Tell me more about them.’ Sponsorship gives us an opportunity to explain the benefits of the program and how it can help them.”
Car2go activated the May 24-27 Northwest Folklife Festival with a dedicated parking lot near the entrance to the festival.
The festival promoted car2go as a transportation option to festival-goers, said Phil O’Sullivan, Northwest Folklife’s director of development and marketing. Car2go offered attendees a discount membership, he added.
Car2go’s Austin, Texas office also is an active sponsor. The office recently expanded its three-year-old partnership with the Livestrong Foundation with title of last week’s Marathon Rely.
The Livestrong tie includes sponsorship of the Team Livestrong Challenge Austin, involvement in the Livestrong transportation program and a car2go parking spot at the nonprofit’s headquarters in East Austin.
Other car2go sponsorships include the Vancouver Folk Music Festival, North Park Festival of Arts in San Diego and the Studio C arts center in Calgary.
In addition to Ulm, Germany, car2go operates in Amsterdam, Berlin, London, Milan, Munich, Vienna and other international markets.