Volvo Plans to Sell Cars Online and Limit its Auto Show Attendance
Marketing has always been a crutch that automakers rely on to promote their vehicles. It’s been that way for years and it will continue to be that way for the foreseeable future. Volvo,, however, is planning to take a different approach with its future marketing endeavors. Among other things, the Swedish automaker is set to become the first automaker to use online shopping as an integral tool in its sales strategy.
To our knowledge, nobody has fully embraced this approach quite like Volvo seems to be doing now. That’s why it’s both brilliant and insane at the same time. It’s a brand-new day for Volvo and it’s trying to differentiate itself from the rest of the industry by undertaking what it calls the “Volvo Way to Market.”
Part of that plan is to begin putting emphasis on a sales approach that’s become familiar with consumers all over the world, but rarely used in the auto industry. BMW previously thought about online shopping in 2013, only to be met with resistance from its German dealers. As far as Volvo is concerned, this online approach isn’t meant to leave its brick-and-mortar dealers out in the cold, but rather, supplement their selling power with an online tool that will still go through the usual seller network when it comes to deliveries.
In addition to using online shopping to sell its vehicles, Volvo also said that it’s putting in place a three-auto-show strategy that involves participating in just three shows in a calendar year, one for each region where it has a presence. The company has identified the Geneva Motor Show as its European show, the Detroit Auto Show as its North America show, and the alternating Beijing and Shanghai Motor Shows as its Asian show. The rest won’t have Volvo’s presence, something it believes will help keep the company away from the pressure of participating in the constant game of one-upmanship other automakers subject themselves to in these events.
Instead, Volvo will plan some of its debuts at its own annual events, similar to the way it launched the 2016 Volvo XC90 in August 2014. This approach is designed to showcase the debuting models with the lights exclusively beaming down on them.
Click past the jump to read more about Volvo’s new marketing strategy.
Why it matters
To understand why Volvo is doing this whole “Volvo Way to Market” strategy, it’s important to remember that the Swedish automaker doesn’t have the same cache and financial might compared to some of its rivals in Germany, Italy, and the UK. Trying to beat them at their own game isn’t going to give Volvo the strategic traction it needs to get the attention of its customers. It’s just the way it is. Give credit to Volvo for understanding that and doing something about it.
The approach toward online shopping and auto show appearances are just two parts of an elaborate plan drawn up to bring Volvo into the forefront of digital marketing and create awareness for its cars to the general public. Volvo admits that it doesn’t have the advertising budget to roll out billboards, commercials, or print ads at the same rate as its competitors. But spending freely doesn’t always mean spending wisely. Volvo’s new approach is to leverage what it’s capable of pushing to the public and using it to increase the brand’s message.
One particular strategy the Swedish automaker singled out is sponsorship. We all see it in various forms, some more ostentatious than others. In Volvo’s case, sponsorships don’t accomplish anything if it’s spread too thin in a variety of channels. So it’s dropping the strategy altogether and will instead focus on one particular sponsorship: the Volvo Ocean Race. Having ownership of this event means that everybody’s going to associate it with Volvo, even if it does little to promote its vehicles.
Volvo’s movement to online shopping isn’t just about selling cars globally through the Internet. The company also wants to supplement that with items like a new online configurator that allows customers to work on fully-specified models and adjust them depending on their whims and preferences. Once the customer is done with his work, Volvo will send him a short video of the car in motion. It’s a relatively simple enterprise, but packaged differently to make it more interactive.
Despite all of the talk surrounding turning Volvo’s marketing into a completely digital experience, the Swedish brand isn’t going to leave its dealership network hanging. That’s why it’s going to begin integrating the two platforms so that both can work together to give customers a more personal experience grounded on the company’s identity as a proud Swedish brand that honors its Scandinavian roots.
So if you happen to find yourself in a Volvo dealership in the foreseeable future, don’t be surprised to see a place that proudly highlights its heritage. That’s just Volvo putting its words into action.