VW scandal aftermath
As VW works to rebuild its image one year after the diesel-emissions scandal shook the company, Volkswagen’s Shahani says the automaker can’t sit back and feel sorry itself.
It’s been a tough situation, but Shahani says his team moving forward.
“Things are definitely difficult for the VW brand. There’s one thing my entire team is focused on, which is keep the business moving. That’s really the glue that held my team together. We had a lot of work to do to move products that were already for sale,” Shahani said today during a panel discussion.
He added, “Starting this month, and moving throughout 2017, we’ve got three big launches on our hands. There’s none of this sitting back and saying ‘woe is me’ and feeling bad about the situation. It’s about being focused on what needs to happen to drive consumer demand to build the brand in the face of a big challenge. It’s been tough and we’re not out of the woods. We have a lot of work to do to build trust with consumers.”
How brands approach the growing Hispanic market continues to evolve.
Shahani said VW is expanding its outreach to include Spanish-language TV and digital outlets.
“If you consider countries from which Hispanics in the U.S. have immigrated from, Volkswagen typically has a double-digit market share in those countries,” Shahani said. “We tend to be on the list for a lot of these important consumers.”
The growing importance of Hispanic outreach is part of the “new normal” in the marketing world, BMW’s Hardy says.
“Our language has changed. We used to call it a diversity marketing strategy, and then we didn’t like that, [so] we called it an all-inclusion strategy. It is the new landscape,” Hardy said. “We do have a Hispanic agency of record that we hire for the brands. We know how important that segment of the audience is, but we really evolved our language.”
Volvo's Eriksson said the automaker has to do "a lot more" in this area.
Requiring dealers to use a particular vendor for their websites and digital ad work can cause tension between a manufacturer and its stores.
Shahani, who joined VW in November 2013, said he heard from dealers that they wanted a choice of website vendors.
“At one point we were with one vendor for dealer websites for many, many years,” Shahani said.
The company eventually put a competitive model in place to give dealerships a bigger menu.
For websites, Shahani said VW now has certified five vendors. On the digital advertising side, dealerships have eight vendors to choose from.
Shahani said, “We’ve done it in a way where we have an integrated data flow, so we can view what’s happening from a marketing campaign at Tier 1 and see what the effect is at the Tier 3 level.”
Jaguar Land Rover's McCullough said the Jaguar XE sedan and F-Pace crossover, which moved the brand downstream, are bringing in new buyers since their launches earlier this year.
She said 91 percent of F-Pace buyers are new to the brand, while 93 percent of XE buyers never bought Jaguars before.
Jaguar used its multi-city Art of Performance tour, which began at the 2015 Los Angeles Auto Show, to promote the vehicles. The brand hosted virtual test drives in the XE that were given a cinematic touch with special effects using green-screen technology.
The test drives were filmed and turned into action sequences that the drivers could share on social media. The F-Pace was on display during the tour.
F-Pace sales are up to 4,620 through August, while the XE sits at 2,773.
"Before the launch of the XE and F-Pace, we were playing in a very small part of the market," she said. "With the launch of these two products, [the] available market to us tripled to 1.2 million consumers."