Volkswagen’s global market share is about 11% — but it sits at only 3% in the world’s largest auto market — the United States. Volksagen’s managers hope to change that, so they are re-doubling marketing efforts. This article, “Volkswagen Rediscovers America” (Bloomberg Businessweek, May 19, 2011), offers some insights into its strategy — but mostly gives a few interesting nuggets of information. For example, I was surprised to read that as compared to its European counterpart, the U.S. Passat has more legroom, larger control buttons, and a better air conditioning system. And the U.S. customer gets these extras for for a price of about $8000 courtesy of lower U.S. wages and simplified product design. VW has just opened its first U.S. manufacturing plant since 1988.
The article offers some examples that can be used when you teach international marketing (product adaptation) and the local factory turns a weakness into a strength.
VW’s 2011 Super Bowl commercial (“The Force” see below) was one of the most popular — though I must confess I was not a fan. While I found the ad cute, I didn’t think it said anything relevant about the brand.