For the first time in years, Volkswagen has presented its brand strategy for the upcoming ten years in a press conference that took place at Volkswagen’s “Markenhochhaus,” signaling a brand overhaul that’s soon to be reflected on all brand touch points. The Berries interviewed Christine Kuhlmeyer, VW’s Official Spokesperson for Sales and Marketing to get snippets of the new strategy.
BB: Volkswagen brand chief Herbert Diess presented in a press conference his plan for the next ten years signaling that the brand strategy will undergo a revamp. What drove Volkswagen to take this strategic decision?
CK: Besides the changing society and environment as well as new competitors, some internal points drove our strategic decision. Volkswagen is a globally acknowledged and established brand with strong customer loyalty but with an inconsistent global brand image. We offer a high-quality product portfolio with an eye for details, superb technical expertise and automobiles with a distinctive character but fight with a growing productivity gap and increase in fixed costs in comparison to Hyundai and Toyota. Our global presence and scalable platforms are in contrast to the centralized, hierarchic organization and disintegrating market shares in price-sensitive markets. That is why we came up with the new strategy – only mentioning some main points here.
BB: By 2025, Volkswagen wants to sell one million electric vehicles per year and become the worldwide market leader in electro-mobility. How will Volkswagen outperform some of the category firsts like Elon Musk’s Tesla?
Christine Kuhlmeyer: Volkswagen is able to scale up technologies to make them reachable to a wider amount of customers. Our special MEB platform leads to a more efficient price point throughout that we will reach more people, especially in China, where we are the market leader, where the demand for e-mobility is coming from – where we produce locally in comparison to Tesla as an importer.
BB: Volkswagen is attempting to move on from the emissions crisis and rebuild consumers trust. How the company is planning to enhance consumer experiences in the new brand strategy ?
CK: We have defined a common global target customer group to concentrate on their needs, care about their values and create fascinating products for them. Therefor we focus on four key strategic building blocks/innovation fields: 1) Smart Sustainability – we want to get from conventional to clean and sustainable products. We will aim for zero emissions with a portfolio of BEVs and hybrids with a high volume impact. These must be mainstream models, not low-volume specialties. 2) Automated driving – from assisted via piloted to automated driving. We will move towards zero accidents and maximum comfort, first with increasingly advanced driver assistance systems, then with level 4 autonomous driving. 3) Intuitive Usability – from simple to understand to intuitive and joyful to use. We must develop and implement an intuitive HMI and a consistent HBI and roll them out across all products and services. 4) Connected Community – from fragmented to combined and meaningful knowledge. We need a brand ecosystem, incorporating a suite of intelligent mobility services. Unlike other car makers, who focus on “I” or “me”, Volkswagen starts from the “we” to highlight the community factor. We summarize the way we communicate and how our products and services look and feel across all touch points as emotional benefits. Human excitement – We create products and services with fascination and soul. Always up to date – we don’t just envision the future, we create the future. Safe choice – we don’t just sell automobiles, we provide peace of mind. Founded upon our traditional core-strength of German engineering, Volkswagen continues to provide customers with proven safety, reliable service, trusted quality and stable residual value. That’s our unique spirit who differentiates us from our competitors.
BB: Back in 2015, Volkswagen dropped its famous slogan “Das Auto” from all forthcoming advertising campaigns as a part of a wider move to refresh its brand. Does the company intend to debrand ?
CK: As you know we worked on the new brand strategy the last months. Now it takes some time to make the new strategy long-term visible at all consumer touch points. Therefor we are also working on the topic of a new slogan for the Volkswagen brand including an entire brand appearance update. It will take some time to define a worldwide valid and relevant claim and introducing it into the markets.