Summary & Conclusion

Having conducted brand audit of Renault and Volkswagen, we’ve gather substantial amount of information. The best way to structure that information with regards to brand auditing is thoroughly building Kevin Keller’s CBBE pyramid for both brands. Below is the the final breakdown of the pyramid with highlights of essential notions in each type of brand attribute:

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Renault has a strong degree of brand awareness. Although it is not one of the top brands that pop-up, when talking about cars in general. However, awareness becomes stronger within specific categories of cars. Company has presence in several car categories starting from entry-level vehicles and up to upper middle class, also having very strong presence in electric vehicles sector.
There are two categories, where Renault is out of reach for most competitors or car manufacturers: entry-level vehicles and electric cars. The company enjoys a dominating position of the market in both categories, hence, very strong awareness within those sectors and extended breadth of awareness.
Volkswagen has very strong brand awareness. It tends to be one of the first brands to be associated with automotive sector. Although the general consumer is unaware that the brand portfolio includes brands like Skoda , Bugatti,and Lamborghini, the company ranks very high in the mind of consumers thanks to the cognitive associations prompted by brand.
However, there is an interesting trend in volkswagen’s brand awareness dynamics — it tends to go upwards in segment associations: VW is increasingly viewed as expensive car, rather than “Volk’s”. It’s a vector company took in late 90s and still continues to follow.
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Renault has pretty high manufacturing standards. In fact , it is the reason why they conquered entry-level segment — they managed to maintain quality in spite of drastic cost-cutting measures. Their gasoline engines are one of the most durable on the market, although, occasional flaws still happen. These
“occasional flaws”  setback the company to it’s 1990s reputation. An era when the company products suffered chronic malfunctions on the average.
Volkswagen managed to establish one of the most effective cross-platform systems in the world. You can find the same components in Skoda, Volkswagen, Audi and Porsche. It means that luxury-segment quality standards are applied to those components, which contributes to overall quality of vehicles throughout all classes.
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Renault has more passionate image. Throughout it’s advertisement campaign, the central focus of them were emotions, French style and passion. Thus Renault targets more emotional consumers.
Volkswagen tends to build it’s marketing campaigns around technical features of vehicles. Even the slogan of company states so: Das Auto — The Car. So, VW targets those consumers that appreciate mostly technology, precision and quality.
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Renault vehicles are appreciated for their design, aesthetics and utility. However, quality still appears to be a weak point here. Despite integrating quality logo to Renault’s own logo, this attribute fails to change. Recently, Renault tried a new strategy for quality reinforcement — they are focusing on their success in car racing, hoping to translate that into inevitable consequence results of high quality.
Volkswagen vehicles are prided for their quality. Recently VW discovered that they have problems with their vision of a car and that of a consumer. To put it in another way, they started to have problems with aesthetics, utility and design aspects of their vehicles. However, problem was resolved by implementing more consumer-based approach in designing new vehicles.
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Throughout various marketing incentives and supporting events, Renault products tend to provoke mostly Fun feelings and Excitement. Motorsports, crazy advertising campaigns all contribute to it. The EV products of the company obviously dramatically contribute to Social Approval kind of feelings. Electric vehicles became the symbols of fight against pollution (which it is not the case  — they merely push pollution farther away from cities, but that’s OK), which is one of the main pillars of modern social responsibility.
Recently probe new kind of feeling association — through luxury
Volkswagen products are strongly associated with such feelings as security and self Respect. Quality and upper-mid price targeting significantly contribute to those feelings. But certain products of Volkswagen, especially those deep in middle-class segment tend to be associated with Fun. Various ads for Polo, Golf and Up are built around that feeling.
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Strong competition in automotive industry prevents general cases of behavioural Loyalty, as purchases happen rarely and each time product is challenged by rivals. However, certain electric models of Renault, like Traffic z.e. stay mostly unchallenged and recurring purchases occur within fleet sales.
Attitudinal: According to our surveys Renault is perceived much like commodity rather than something greater. It failed to become a Love mark. However, certain sub-brands of Renault has developed thriving communities around them. EVs and sport cars seem to be somewhat different from how the brand is perceived in general. They have loyal consumers, that do not want to change the brand because the successfully blinded together.
Volkswagen mostly faces the same issues as Renault. It’s hard to hook consumers for long. However, being positioned higher in budget segmentation, volkswagen cars are more than just commodity. Some owners of certain models, such as Golf seem to be loyal to the brand and invest in updated versions and facelifts of the same model from year to year. In the sports division of Volkswagen situation is much the same, as in Renault. Sport models of company has become a centre of gravity for various communities of owners.
But Volkswagen has one more thing, that adds significantly to it’s perception as a Lovemark; generating resonance — powerful heritage of models, that had very strong cultural impact on various societies throughout the world.
 All in all, both brands are very strong in terms of awareness and have incredible potential.
Volkswagen has serious problems with positioning and sometimes confuses consumers with regards to what segment certain subtends occupy. The second serious problem for Volkswagen is absence in entry-level market.
Renault has problems in establishing reputation of quality brand and is often perceived as producer of commodities. This may be backfired expansive strategy on entry-level market. But company has serious potential in future. It has successfully invested in electric vehicles and firmly established itself as producer of such goods. Having excessively strong positions on this market, Renault only has to keep pace.
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The Lovemark

According to Kevin Roberts “LoveMark” concept, companies can transcend to something much more advanced, then commodity. They can influence consumers in a way, that creates emotional binds with them. We’ve conducted a study to define, whether Renault or Volkswagen correspond to such terms. Here goes the data:

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The overall average result of the Lovemarker for Renault after surveying people is: 39,57. Hence, according to the evaluation criteria, proposed by Kevin Roberts, Renault is a brand. These results appear to be very surprising. Renault definitely has potential to be considered as a Lovemark.

The lowest result received was 33. The highest result received was 54. Hence, while for some Renault is a commodity, for others it can be regarded at as a lovemark. Renault loses points in the categories “mystery” and “intimacy”.

For the Volkswagen the overall average result of the Lovemarker for Volkswagen after surveying people is: 50,45

Hence, according to the following diagram, Volkswagen is a lovemark.

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The Brand Experience Model – Renault and Volkswagen

From the moment of our birth, we all feel and experience  a product, a service or a mere commodity through our senses. No one is immune to this phenomenon and as such, marketers take advantage of it in order to plan their strategies. These experiences take place while we investigate, search, shop and utilize the product or service. As we go through the different phases (examination, manipulation and the subsequent evaluation) of the item, we gather all the relevant information that will aid us to make the right choice. These experiences can be indirect ( by oral narration, printed materials, ads) or direct ( by touching, feeling, sensing, tasting). As consumers, we tend to rely on each of these types of information in order to make a sound and rational decision.

Another important aspects that contributes to this experience is the atmosphere ( i.e. retail store) in which the consumer comes into contact with the specific brand. The received information contributes to either reinforce the choices made or pushes up to take action. It help by responding to the important questions that may arise about a particular brand. Further, the way in which a consumer senses the experience fluctuates greatly in intensity levels. It all depend of the individual and the cognitive association made by the perception and props, unique ideas or images regarding the targeted brand. In the case or Renault and Volkswagen, these two brands do their most to influence their intended target market by utilizing the four  aspects of the brand. By catering to their desires, wants and need, these two big car makers, do their out most to answer consumers questions. By using all the senses, the consume formulates different questions, experiencing different sensations, acts in a particular way or increase his/her brain functions when confronted by the two brands.

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Each companies brand portfolio foment these feelings on their consumers. According to the car model or brand, consumers goes through all the emotional stages of experiencing each brand. From the sensory level to the intellectual aspects, they are reacting in a varying degree to the messages created by these two brands. For some, the power and beauty of a Lamborghini brings to the surface an array of emotions only understood by those belonging to the same community. The same feelings can be describe by F1 spectators or anyone passionate about motor sport  activities. The personification of their vehicle creates trust and loyalty, which in turn, increase the equity of the brand. In fact, by engaging the consumer in every level of the human emotions, they learn the particular preferences of the consumer and are able to adjust their marketing strategy accordingly.

Lovers, perhaps feels a deeper affinity with a Clio or a Polo, or a family man to a Renault Scenic or a VW Touareg. Either way, this feelings or preferences are do to most probably to their past experiences, friends influences or marketing arguments created by each brand.

For example, in the sensory aspects, the brand Renault created strong feelings in their loyal consumers by unveiling the latest models last auto show event in Paris

These event created a chain reaction into the affective, behavioral and intellectual levels of the consumer which in turn, translates into an effective brand experience. The credibility and shifting attitude created by such announcement is correlated to the growth of the brand in terms o equity compare to close competitor. Exceeding consumers expectations is one of the main goals of companies looking to build brand equity. By doing the right thing, consumer experiences with the brand move into another level of reference.

The picture below shows the intricate aspects of brand experience and the concept and how might, every brand, including Renault and Volkswagen, go to created the perfect message for the general consumer.

The Brandthropologist ™ The Brand Science Blog by Greg Ellevsen

The Brandthropologist ™
The Brand Science Blog by Greg Ellevsen

In all, the individual experiences gained by interacting with any aspect of brand, contributes to the tangible and intangible growth of Renault and Volkswagen.

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PoDs & PoPs

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Points-of-Difference

Points-of-difference (POD’s) are “attributes or benefits that consumers strongly associate with a brand, positively evaluate, and believe that they could not find to the same extent with a competitive brand “.

Volkswagen

  • German quality: Results of our survey clearly show that for consumers Volkswagen cars are strongly associated with very good quality. They trust German production and associate it with performance and innovation. It is clearly a point of difference between Volkswagen and Renault because consumers think the opposite for the quality of French cars.
  • Major home production: Volkswagen successfully uses Germany’s reputation in technological precision and general quality of goods. Therefore, Volkswagen tends to produce significant amount of vehicle in motherland. In spite of ever-increasing labor cost in Germany, Volkswagen still finds that additional gain from “Made in Germany” label on their cars is worth more than domestic production expenditures.
  • Presence in USA: The brand is one of the few Europeans to have established in North America. Every day, 2,500 cars out of the Volkswagen plant production lines located two kilometers from Puebla in central Mexico. This is the factory that produced more vehicles in North America in 2012. But still, Volkswagen vehicles are far from reaching the same saturation of market, as in Europe.
  • Premium and luxury cars: Volkswagen is known for its top of the range products. Although, general awareness of the fact that Volkswagen owns multiple luxury brands is weak, It still bears additional marketing impulse to core brand.

Renault

  • Cheap price: According to our survey, Renault is strongly associated with low price. Indeed, consumers are more inclined to buy brand’s cars than their competitors because they place a very strong importance on the price.
  • Electric Vehicles: Although both brands have electric vehicles in their model ranges, it was Renault, who started very aggressive expansion on electric market several years ago. Now company sells 4 fully-electric cars. With 200,000 EVs sold, Renault(as RN alliance) owns 58% of electric vehicle market worldwide. Renault also build the whole fleet for new Formula E Championship, one that hold around electric vehicles. That builds up strong association of Renault(and fellow Nissan) as an innovative company.
  • Environmental protection: With its advances in electric cars, Renault enjoys a good reputation in contrast to its competitors. In addition, Renault is the only European manufacturer to have made commitments in the recycling of vehicles.
  • Made in France: For many patriotic French, Renault represents the French car par excellence. The brand uses this advantage in its commercials on TV.

Points of Parity

According to K.L Keller‘s definitions, a point-of-parity (POP) is “associations that are not necessarily unique to the brand but in fact may be shared with other brands”. Companies focus in POPs because they are an efficient way to annul the points-of-difference (POD) created by the competitors.
  • Motorsport history: Both companies have huge success in Motorsports. Renault for instance is strongly present in Formula 1 with huge success (world champion engine) and Volkswagen with his pilot, Sebastien Ogier, became World Rally champion for the second time.
  • Worldwide presence: Renault is present in 128 countries, Volkswagen in 153 countries. Both brands have both chosen an international expansion strategy by uniting with other groups to conquer other international markets.
  • Huge communication budget: Renault is the first company in France in terms of advertising investment with a budget of € 412 million in 2013. Volkswagen appears in 11th place with 216 million. It is interesting to observe that both marks are not acting on the same channels: in fact, the most widely used media for Renault is radio while Volkswagen uses more press.

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