2016 Volvo XC90Enlarge Photo
Volvo is about to make a dramatic shift in the way it markets its cars. In an effort to direct advertising dollars where they are most effective, at least according to Volvo’s marketing department, the Swedish automaker will stop turning up to most auto shows around the globe and instead build up its presence online.
Volvo is boosting its marketing budget but will spend more on developing new online marketing channels, as well as sprucing up its global network of dealers to turn them into ‘brand centers’ to emphasize its Scandinavian roots, something that will become vital as the automaker builds more cars in China, a country whose government owns a 37 percent stake in Volvo (the rest is mostly owned by Chinese automaker Geely).
The new strategy is called the Volvo Way to Market, and it will see Volvo focus in four key areas: marketing tools, online presence, dealers and service. Unfortunately for fans, it means a drastic reduction in the number of auto show appearances. Volvo has confirmed it will attend just three shows per year: the Detroit Auto Show, the Geneva Motor Show and the alternating Shanghai and Beijing events. In addition to three shows, Volvo says it will host its own event to showcase its products brand, similar to what’s done in the tech industry.
As for its online presence, Volvo says it will start to sell online gradually across the globe. The U.S. may be one of the later markets to fully embrace online sales of Volvo vehicles because of the dealership model here, but progress can be made in this area as demonstrated by Tesla and its own online sales model. Dealers will still be there for the delivery and servicing of vehicles as well as organizing test drives and real world inspections that you can’t replicate on the web. A first step in digital commerce was taken with the online-only sale of 1,927 special launch edition XC90s.
For the dealers, Volvo will attempt to have most of them styled in a similar way, to further project the brand. Inside, customers will be able to have a drink in Sweden-produced glasses and there will be Swedish cuisine also on offer along with some Swedish-themed sight and sound elements.
The final leg of the Volvo Way to Market is a new level of service, which will include the assignment of a personal technician for each customer. When first picking up a vehicle, the customer will be introduced to the technician who will take care of them and the car throughout the ownership. Volvo says a number of dealers have already started the service on a trial basis and customer satisfaction has improved. By 2018, Volvo expects its of its dealers to be offering this service as standard.