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|Friday, August 03, 2012|
BY LINDA BAKER
A couple of months ago, my 15 year-old daughter and I took a car2go to Costco, earning us the distinction, I'm sure, of being among the first Costco customers to take a very very small car with virtually no trunk space on a major food shopping expedition. But the family car was out of commission and my daughter was determined to stock up on institution-size boxes of Cheerios and six packs of applesauce.
She was also determined to try out car2go, the zippy blue and white Smart Cars that have become a fixture in the Portland urban landscape. Once on the road, my daughter was in heaven. She snapped multiple pictures of herself in various poses and posted them to Instagram. "Me, in a car2go."
Since launching in Portland on March 31st, car2go, a car-sharing service, has racked up 6,000 members, who collectively, use the service 5,000 times a week, according to company spokesperson Katie Stafford. The service attracts a broad cross section of urban dwellers: young professionals, families, college students.
Part of the appeal is the business model. Car2go lets you hop in a car and go anywhere, anytime, without having to return the car to a specific location.
But as the mother of a teen not even old enough to drive, I can't help but think car2go's success is as much about the marketing, the branding, and the logo as the business model. "Look, it's a car2go," sings out my daughter everytime we pass one of the Smart Cars with its ubiqutious logo plastered on the car.
According to Stafford, the car2go name was selected "because it easily defines our service."
"We give people a car to go -- anywhere, anytime. We wanted the cars to be easily identifiable so that no matter where you travel, in any car2go city worldwide, you are using the same car and having the same experience."
The name also connotes speed, efficiency--qualities that appeal to the impatient youth of today. Like the Smart Car itself, car2go is hip; it's cool. And like McDonalds, the Gap, et al, car2go is everywhere, perfect for a generation reared on ubiquitous brands.
Car2go's brand strategy bears some relation to the BoltBus phenomenon, the Greyhound-alternative intercity bus service launched in Portland a few months ago.
To be sure, there are some real differences bewteen traditional Greyhound service and BoltBus. The latter doesn't make any stops between Portland and Seattle, offers (occasionally) cheaper tickets and makes quick curbside pick ups and drop offs on major downtown streets instead of compelling customers to wait in line at stand alone bus terminals.
Still, a bus is a bus. Like Greyhound, the BoltBus travels on I-5. Like Greyhound, the BoltBus gets stuck in traffic.
Despite these realities, BoltBus appears to be all the rage. "We anticipated the service would be would be successful and it's exceeded our expectations," said spokesperson Maureen Richmond. The service primarily attracts young professionals, she said. It's also caught the attention of young people, many of them whom have never hopped aboard Greyhound.
What's so great about the BoltBus, I asked my 17 year-old son, who will be taking his third ride in a month--he who has only ridden Greyhound once in his entire life.
He looked at me impatiently. "Mother, it's the Bolt Bus."
Oh, I see.
Like car2go, BoltBus connotes speed and efficiency. Although those qualities appeal to any age group, the BoltBus message seems clear: out with the slow, the pondering (and the old). In with the fast, the new (and the young).
Car2go and BoltBus are new transportation models aimed at changing the behavior of urban and inter city commuters. That their marketing schemes have caught the eye of the youth of today suggests something about the values of a new generation and the marketing schemes it takes to attract them.
By the way: my daughter didn't post pictures of car2go to her Facebook page. At least for teens, she says, that particular social networking site is becoming passe.
Linda Baker is managing editor of Oregon Business.
Tuesday, January 27, 2015
BY KIM MOORE
Robin Anderson, dean of the Pamplin School of Business, University of Portland: "You need people who are comfortable leading in ambiguity."
Monday, March 02, 2015
BY KIM MOORE | OB RESEARCH EDITOR
Portland-based healthcare provider ZoomCare said it plans to “remake American healthcare” by expanding its on-demand urgent care model to emergency, surgery, dental and primary care, among others.
Tuesday, February 24, 2015
BY LINDA BAKER | OB EDITOR
At Oregon State University, a 21st century version of the bad dream — nuclear terrorism — is alive and well. This winter, the Department of Nuclear Physics and Radiation Health Physics created a new interdisciplinary graduate emphasis in nuclear forensics, a Sherlock Holmes-sounding program that aims to identify how and where confiscated nuclear and radiological materials were created.
Monday, January 26, 2015
The day after this issue goes to press, the city of Medford will host its annual business conference. The event features Minoli Ratnatunga, co-author of the Milken Institute’s annual “Best-Performing Cities” report. Preliminary data suggests that Medford is likely to retain its No. 1 ranking among best-performing small cities for having a higher concentration of high-tech firms than the national average.
Thursday, March 26, 2015
BY JACOB PALMER
Enjoying a power lunch at Court Street Dairy Lunch in Salem.
Wednesday, January 28, 2015
BY LINDA BAKER | OB EDITOR
What is the impact of the legal pot industry on carbon emissions?
Wednesday, February 25, 2015
BY LINDA BAKER | OB EDITOR
The big news at Oregon Business is we’re getting a ping pong table. After reading the descriptions of the 2015 100 Best Companies to Work For in Oregon, a disproportionate number of which feature table tennis in the office, I decided it was time to bring our own workplace into the 21st century. It was a tough call, but it’s lonely at the top, and someone has to make the hard decisions.
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