Zipcar’s emoji cars create a fun and playful brand experience. Photo courtesy of Zipcar.

Zipcar’s emoji cars create a fun and playful brand experience. Photo courtesy of Zipcar.

Zipcar has expanded its carsharing service to 100 more universities and colleges over the past year, bringing its total campus footprint to more than 600 throughout North America.

This growth stems from an increase in the number of campuses interested in offering a car-free or car-light campus lifestyle to Generation Z (Gen Z) students, who now make up the majority of the student population.

According to Zipcar, new college and university partners include Cal State Monterrey Bay, Florida International University, Louisiana State University, Oregon State University, SUNY Binghamton, SUNY Buffalo State, University of Colorado Boulder, and University of Connecticut.

"Today's campus planners want to offer convenient, sustainable transportation options that enable off-campus experiences for students, faculty, and staff — and Zipcar is meeting that need," said Tracey Zhen, president of Zipcar. "Zipcar is smart for campuses that want to reduce parking demand and promote transportation amenities that make campus life more convenient and affordable for students. Our growth shows that Zipcar is becoming an indispensable part of campus life."

In recent months, Zipcar has launched new "in real life" (IRL) marketing strategies tailored to the new demographic on campus, Gen Z.

The rise of these highly connected, brand skeptics has led to a shift in Zipcar's campus marketing strategy to an IRL approach that builds trust and grabs attention in the offline world, according to the company. Zipcar's IRL tactics include human-powered advertising (turning backpacks into digital billboards), emoji cars that take the popular digital icons offline, and "stop and stare" activations that offer hands-on experiences with the brand.

"Gen Z is an exciting and quickly growing demographic that has very different attitudes toward brands and transportation," said Kate Pope Smith, Zipcar’s director of integrated marketing. "From what we've seen, they prefer to have access to a car rather than owning one, much like their millennial predecessors, but they also want to do business with real people, allowing us to get creative with some IRL marketing tactics that have been successful in building authentic relationships with Gen Zers."