Even as scooters appear in more and more cities, the market has not been clearly defined. Consumers and potential riders are largely unfamiliar with the product, the companies providing the rental services, and how the whole thing works. For Lime, which is hoping to become the dominant provider in the rental scooter market, these concerns require a novel approach to developing a marketing strategy that ensure people come to embrace the entire product and service idea.
Fundamentally, Lime and its competitors provide scooters, the app to use them, and maintenance services to ensure the customer has a positive experience. Located at various places throughout a city, the scooters are not locked or attached to any sort of rack, as most rental bicycles are. Rather, to “unlock” them, potential users must log on to the app to turn on the electric-power scooters. Then they can leave them pretty much anywhere they want, ready for the next user to find and turn on.
One nationwide survey indicated that people used scooters to get around on 38.5 million rides last year, while in the same period, they used bike sharing services for 45.5 million rides. Thus the offer clearly is growing, and for many enthusiasts, scooters are way more fun, flexible, and maneuverable than bicycles or other modes of transportation, like cars.
But nonadopters have complaints, especially when it comes to safety. Some riders, especially those with little experience with the scooters, have run into pedestrians or broken traffic laws, creating a risk of injury for themselves and those around them. In addition, while the rental companies ask users to leave the scooters in tucked-away places, some inconsiderate riders simply drop them in the middle of the sidewalk, cluttering traffic and creating a tripping hazard.
To address these issues and potential limits on its growth, Lime hires “juicers”—employees who track down unused scooters, ensure they are in good working condition, and place them in convenient and safe locations. These juicers feature prominently in Lime’s marketing communication, reflecting its attempt to position itself as a job creator and community facilitator. From this perspective, the service it offers is more than moving people from one location to another; by renting scooters, people can see parts of the city they normally would not or get close to locations that would be hard to reach by car.
To further encourage this sense of community, while also addressing safety concerns, Lime plans to host “Lime Academy” sessions, teaching new riders about safety precautions, getting them familiar with the physical movement involved, and encouraging them to share their experiences through social media.
1. What sort of advantages does a scooter rental company like Lime enjoy as it develops its marketing strategy?
2. What opportunities does Lime have at this point in its development?
3. What threats does Lime face, and how can it better address them?
Source: Nat Ives, “Lime Ads Evoke a Mission Beyond Renting Out Scooters,” The Wall Street Journal, May 10, 2019