Established in 1937, Volkswagen is a German automobile manufacturer headquartered in Wolfsburg,Lower Saxony, Germany.It is the biggest automaker in both Germany and Europe.The Volkswagen Group’s models are sold in more than 150 countries.It’s product range extends from small cars to luxury class vehicles and trucks.In 2014, the Group increased the number of vehicles delivered to customers to 10.137 million.The Group comprises twelve brands from seven European countries: Volkswagen Passenger Cars, Audi, SEAT, Bentley, Bugatti, Lamborghini, Porsche, Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles, Scania,Ducati,SKODA and MAN.The Group’s goal is to offer attractive, safe and environmentally sound vehicles which can compete in an increasingly tough market and set world standards in their respective class.
Business Objective of Volkswagen
In 2011,Volkswagen being the market leader in automobiles in the world wanted to increase their presence in the Chinese market.China had always been one of the largest and most competitive market for Volkswagen.The main objective of Volkswagen China was to build brand loyalty and create a differentiated brand image for themselves by tapping in to the power of Chinese social media communities.
Strategy Adopted by Volkswagen
Volkswagen China to achieve their objectives launched a crowd sourced marketing campaign in 2011 called the People’s Car Project (PCP).It was a social media campaign which let Chinese people create and vote for their favourite car designs such that using their designs Volkswagen China could create the car of the future.Volkswagen China worked with agencies Proximity China and Goodstein & Partners.
Volkswagen took a new approach for customer dialogue by creating a project website,where it provided tools to Chinese people to create and share their ideas.On the website images and videos can also be uploaded.A voting system was created letting users choose the best design.
“Volkswagen has set out to create the most innovative dialogue platform ever with the ‘People’s Car Project’. The platform is debuting in China, because that is Volkswagen’s largest and most important market. However, we also see potential for launching the project in other markets as well”
Luca de Meo, Director of Marketing, Volkswagen Group and the Volkswagen Passenger Cars brand
The chief goal was to deepen Volkswagen’s emotional connection with the Chinese people.Since China had high levels of engagement on social media communities,it was but natural that such a project was started in China.
“The People’s Car Project, at its heart, is a program about innovation and originality.It has opened a direct line of communication between the Chinese people and Volkswagen. When we’re able to best understand consumers’ needs and desires for their cars, we can innovate cars of unparalleled value, cars that truly fulfill their dreams.”
Peggy Yang,Communications Director ,Volkswagen China
Results Achieved by Volkswagen
The results achieved at the end of one year were overwhelming.Following goals were achieved –
- Volkswagen rose to the number 1 car brand on Chinese social media in 10 weeks.
- 33 million website visitors.
- 119,000 car designs submitted.
- The campaign also won multiple Caples Awards in 2011 and 2012.
- A gold medal for the viral video marketing category.
- 3 concepts were created Hover Car,Music Car,Smart Key.
- It helped Volkswagen build the future product design strategy.
- An online 10-part web series was created where Volkswagen invited the top automotive design students in China to compete and build the People’s Car.
The Hover Car is a two-seater zero-emissions vehicle that hovers above the ground and travels along electromagnetic road networks. It has the ability to detect other vehicles on the road while navigating in China’s congested traffic centers, and its small footprint makes it easy to park.This two-seater concept can be piloted using a joystick, and since it’s omnidirectional, it can be moved forward, backward, left, and right.
“The creative ideas from the ‘People’s Car Project’ give us a valuable insight into the wishes of Chinese drivers.The trend is towards safe cars that can easily navigate overcrowded roads and have a personal, emotional and exciting design.”
Simon Loasby, Head of Design at Volkswagen Group China
Volkswagen,being an established brand, has used the power of social media effectively to increase its market share in China.Social media is not only about increasing the number of followers but about getting connected with the customers as Volkswagen China did.It is about knowing the views of your customers so that it could help in better Brand Building,Customer Service,Product Design.Volkswagen allowed their customers to think out of the box and have fun on the platform created by them online.It also helped serious designers to send their designs so that their dreams can be put into reality by a collaborative effort.They also ensured the platform was user-friendly so that people of any group can use their imagination and build a car of their dream.Volkswagen used social media well in addition to the traditional methods of campaigning like TV spots, social media outreach, online films featuring submitted ideas, online ads, events, mobile apps,toy car giveaways, viral videos, guerrilla marketing, and outdoor advertising.An emotional connect was established by Volkswagen with the people of China.
Image Credits– Zeroto60times,Technologic Vehicles,Yeppy Media