Volkswagen’s Drive to Become the World’s Top Automaker Through Changing Consumers’ Attitudes for High-Effort Decision Making (34 marks
In addition to the more powerful performance, Volkswagen wanted to give consumers a good feeling about its redesigned Beetle by highlighting the status, warmth and friendly feelings associated with other Beetle car owners in its advertising. One TV commercial showed a 30-ish man driving around town in the new black Beetle. As he sits at red lights or inches ahead in traffic, he gets friendly hand-slaps (high-fives) from a pedestrian, a truck driver, a police officer on horseback, a construction worker, and a group of cyclists, all to the toe-tapping tune of “The Clapping Song.” Why the focus on friendly reactions? Eric Wilson, Volkswagen of America’s marketing communications manager, observes that the Beetle is “the world’s most iconic car, and when people see it, they smile, they connect with the driver, and the driver connects with them.” The emphasis was on generating positive elements of status, play and affiliation with other Beetles owners and feelings of warmth through the upbeat, happy music and the hand-slaps. To introduce its new Passat model, Volkswagen posted an online preview of a clever, funny and interesting commercial that gained millions of views. “The Force” , a youngster in a Darth Vader costume prowls the house trying in vain to use the force to do something to his dog, his sister’s doll, a sandwich, and other things. When his father’s new Passat comes to a stop in the driveway, the child rushes past dad and tries to use the force on the car. After a moment, the car roars to life, and its headlights illuminate a surprised and delighted Darth. Then the audience gets a glimpse of dad, out of sight in the kitchen, smiling as he holds up his keychain and presses the Passat’s remote starter. After its launch, the commercial continued to draw online views and reinforce the Passat’s family-friendly and happy image. When consumers are thinking about purchasing a new car, Volkswagen wants them to have both positive thoughts and beliefs (such as its powerful performance) and feelings (such as the warm and friendly feelings with other Volkswagen owners) about its cars. This is especially important as Volkswagen’s cars have been on the market for a long time. (source: adapted from Hoyer, W.D., Maclnnis, D. J. and Pieters, R. (2018), AE Consumer Behavior (7th ed.). Asian Edition, Cengage Learning) Based in Germany, Volkswagen has introduced many distinctively styled vehicles over the years, including the Beetle, which was recently redesigned and relaunched in North America. Moving away from the “cuteness” of the old Beetle design, the redesigned Beetle aims to change consumer’s thoughts and beliefs by putting a new emphasis on its sleek styling and powerful performance, as communicated by the campaign’s tagline: “That’s the power of German engineering.” Volkswagen wanted to emphasise the Beetle’s more aggressive personality and powerful performance, to distinguish it from the cute Beetle of the past.
Questions for Case Study 2:
(a) Marketers can attempt to change consumers’ attitudes for high-effort purchases through major strategies including changing the strength of belief, changing evaluations of the consequences, adding new beliefs, encouraging attitude formation based on imagined experience and targeting normative beliefs. Which ONE of these strategies was adopted by Volkswagen to change consumers’ attitudes towards to its Beetle? Justify your answer. (6 marks)
(b) Discuss the TWO types of social and ONE type of personal needs addressed by Volkswagen in its commercials to try to influence consumers’ attitudes toward the Beetle and Passat. Do you think Volkswagen was trying to influence consumers’ cognitive OR affective attitudes in its “The Clapping Song” commercial? Justify your answer. (13 marks)
(c) By using information from the case, discuss how Volkswagen applied the concept of emotional contagion in its commercials. (6 marks)
(d) Describe how Volkswagen employs the utilitarian dimension and the hedonic dimension to influence consumers’ attitudes toward its Beetle and Passat in its commercials. Which ONE of these dimensions do you think is more important for Volkswagen? Justify your answer. (9 marks)