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.




Renault & Volkswagen: Brand Associations

Every consumer segment has an unique way of perceiving the messages send by a particular brand vis-a-vis others. The messages can be either explicit or implicit.  It aims to reinforce existing information and identify or promotes new ones in the mind of consumers. Depending of the nature of the product or service, the perceive message can have a positive and negative effect on the brand. However, brands are essentially looking to conveying a positive image by creating a durable and desirable product. By extension of items such as Color, Shape, Slogan , Symbols, etc. the brand seeks to grow their equity potential by doing their utmost to bring the message thorough to end users. These adjectives or attributes promotes cognitive association in consumers mind which leads to a quick recognition of the brand. Quick mental decisions are formulated by consumers everyday seeking to get a reward/satisfaction from what the brand has to offer. By responding to basic consumer needs at the beginning, brands can create or promote communities that shares the same values or passion. This is the main reason why brands seeks to gain a strong position inside the consumer mind. Renault and Volkswagen are not exception to this. Each of them strive to send a positive message, in their own way, to reach the market.

In order to accelerate the process and aid the consumers, both of these companies utilize every mean of marketing mix  to reach their intended target. From printing ads, TV commercials, Celebrity Endorsement, Customer Service, Point of Sales, Word of Mouth, etc. these brands are creating “noise” and “buzz”, to seduce every potential consumer into becoming a loyal one.  All these ideas and tools are helping each brand to build ‘equity’ and generate profits.



There are arrays of ideas, concepts, words and symbols that comes to mind when we talk about Renault. For some, the car manufacturer is synonym with F1 races and rally around the world. Perception like this  is mainly due to the historical background and current commitment of the company in motor sport activities. In fact, Renault is looking to capture consumers attention and loyalty by tapping into their unique ‘personal traits. By “personalizing” the brand, Renault is looking to make that emotional connection in order to appeal to the average consumer. Moreover, the car maker hardly use celebrities to endorse their vehicles. This approach is more evident when the vehicle belongs to price point category.

This is the reason why every Renault model coming out of the has its own set of attributes that conveys power, comfort, elegance, prestige, affordable price, practicality, etc. These attributes helps to make the connection with the consumer by promoting differentiation or integration of the brand, from a social standpoint. Further, by responding to the need of each consumer segment, the company increases its “equity” regarding the competition.

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Volkswagen also follows a similar marketing mix, however; with a slightly different approach regarding consumers. Although, they do tap into human emotions, their main attributes are mainly linked to primordial emotions and basic human needs( safety, survival, protection, trust,etc.) Thanks to their simple slogan “Das Auto” the company is able to to connect with their customer instantly. Although it is in German, consumers associate the language, in this particular context, as a symbol of quality,reliance,  craftsmanship,great engineering and strength. Further segmentation of the market led to other words associate with the brand as can be observed on the below picture. The car manufacturers brand also come to mind in terms of luxury and prestige when we look into Porsche, Lamborghini and the Bentley line. These brands helps the company to further extend their brand ‘equity’ around the world.

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What really lies behind this brand “EQUITY”, resulting from humans perception, is the overall exposure and spread knowledge of the brand. Build on human emotions, either physical or mental manifestations, brands capitalized on the associations made by the consumers once exposed to the messages or ideas conveyed by then. The are the reason why cars like Renault and Volkswagen are constantly searching to stir strong emotions on consumer like you and I. So, we see communities that are very passionate about the VW beetle, the VW bus, the Renault 4L “quatrelle” , the Porsche 1956 Speedster for example. These models, provides the consumer, a sense of “belonging”. It also helps into luring others, while promoting social and cultural “separation” form the masses.

As consumers, we seek to get answers and somehow, a connection with the brand. We do identify with their culture and readily create an association with a particular model or message emanating from the brand. It also reflects the right approach that the brand are doing regarding the target market and the solutions or answers provided. By differentiating themselves from the competitions ( via jingle, slogan, symbols,physical shapes, etc.) their are able to hammer and convey the right information in a short,sweet and concrete way.

The picture below (Keller’s Pyramid) summarize the brand EQUITY in terms of consumer perceptions. It goes from  “Salience” (awareness) to “Resonance” ( the coveted or ideal relationships) that the brand seeks from the consumer.

Every stage accentuate the brand notoriety or Equity. The results can be a positive one, but only if the sequence or steps are being observed or followed. The results leads to strong relationship with the consumer.



CBBE Pyramid



Elements and current marketing program of VW and Renault

In a very competitive market such as the automaker industry, Renault and Volkswagen relies on elements unique to each of then such as logos,slogans,innovation and quality to hammer on their current marketing programs. These elements can be observed in their TVC or advertisement campaign around the world.  Although their marketing mix are pretty much the same, these two automaker have chosen different attributes that are the core of their campaign.

For example, Volkswagen, primarily promotes the mechanical/engineering and power aspects of their vehicle. The reputation associated with German workmanship and precision, are the main ideas in which almost the entire campaign relies on. On a lesser extend, the emotional and environmental part comes into play.

Renault, on the other hand, plays the opposite side of things and highlights the emotional aspects associated with their cars.  By showing the relationship that each owner has with his/her vehicle, Renault is hoping to lure customers by showing the soft, elegance and comfort side of their vehicles. Below are some elements involved in the current marketing strategies used by the two automakers.


The Volkswagen side of things

According to Vinay Shahani, the new VP-marketing at Volkswagen of America, “it is difficult for U.S. consumer to grasp the idea of the premium price tags pegged into their vehicle. Especially when they are trying to become the number one player in the mass production market”.

This is quite true for many as they do not see VW as a luxury brand. Nevertheless, Volkswagen exhibit higher price tags because of their reliance on craftsmanship and generally reputation of their cars.  The company chief argues that this is due to the prestige associated with German technology.


Here are some elements involved in VW commercials in a way to conveying their message to the consumers.

Slogan: A very important medium for companies to create brand awareness by creating catching phrases or ideas. By constant exposure to these messages, the average consumers, identify themselves and instantly recognized the brand. Advertisement campaign such …”The power of German engineering” in the USA and ‘Das auto‘ in France, ” Why drive anything else” in Australia, emphasizes the engineering reputation for which is well known for.

Quality & reliability: Once again the German car maker is putting forward the quality of their vehicle at the forefront of their campaign. With the following TVC, the conveyed message highlight the fuel efficiency and design of the car.

Redesign company website: In a fast pace consumer world, especially the internet, the company revamped their website to keep up with the latest technology and marketing strategies. However, this can backfire, at times, when the site is streamlined to the minimalistic category. Nevertheless, VW updated the its website hoping to help consumers

Drive the new TDI technology: Volkswagen is trying to tap into those ‘environmentally conscious’ consumer. The Turbocharged Direct Injection , a technology that is widely used by the company, calls into the diffusion of diesel engines in the US.

Its a confidence thing – Australia-    This particular TVC tries to convey the ” Confidence” message to the consumer.

Features speak for itself – India-



Renault on the other hand, is pursuing a more aggressive campaign geotargeting the  Mobile consumers . By launching of ZOE for the electric car enthusiasts via their app (mainly in the UK for now) the company is seeking to increase their brand awareness and lower customers resistance and hesitancy regarding the electric vehicle.

But what the french automaker do the best in order to differentiate itself from the competition, is playing into the human emotions to convey their messages. according to the main advertisement strategy of the brand, humans are a complex and emotional being,  and to address it , there’s a Renault for every occasion and every important moment of our lives.

The main motto for the car company is ” drive the Change”

Here are a few samples of  tvc involving “Emotions”

The company’s, ” the Diamond” had subtle changes since 1925. It plays a crucial role in creating cognitive association in the mind of consumers helping the company to be well positioned amongst competitors.  The chosen colors of yellow ( joy, optimism and prosperity) and silver (innovation, creativity and sophistication) were in an effort to represent and associate the brand with main human emotions. These two elements (colors and emotions) helps Renault  to further accelerate one of their marketing strategic business target: portray their cars as a crucial element for ‘state of mind and emotional wellbeing’.


banking into environmentally conscious consumers:

Cross screen brand awareness for the Clio



Consumer Analysis Pt.3 — Consumer Segmentation

     Market segmentation allows the efficient distribution of products and services to the right consumers. It eliminates or mitigates threats, creates opportunities and consolidates a brand or company reputation vis-a-vis other brands in the minds of the targeted consumers. A competitive industry, such as the car manufacturing industry, uses this concept in order to eliminate product and service homogeneity. Two of the segmentation types generally utilised are Psychographic and Geographic segmentation.

Psychographic Segmentation

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Utility/Family — This type of consumer focuses mostly on utility qualities of vehicles. They are pragmatic and are going to use a car as a tool. Would prefer large-volume trunks/pick-ups, 4x4s and family vans.
Comfort —  For this consumer type, convenience is above anything else. They will pay much more attention to interior quality, ergonomy and the smooth suspension.
Showing off — this kind of consumers values their status and will  do anything and will use every capable tool to prove it to his/her surrounding audience. Technical qualities and features does not bother them as long as they don’t represent added respectability value. They will pay attention to those models, that are considered as status milestones.
Enthusiasts — Love cars from a technical point of view. Regard vehicles like engineering products and have strong inclination for models that have some exceptional technological features (like rare Wankel engine or some state-of the art supportive features, like autopilot).
Sporter — Possesses good driving skills (or honestly believed). Really enjoy driving and tends to ‘squeeze’ all the power out of vehicle’s driving potential. Fancy a car, that is tweaked and/or adjusted for sport use or possesses some sportive features.
Trendy — Always aware of current trends! This kind of consumer tries to be on the ‘loop’ about the latest automobile fashion.
ResponsibleABE5B22B-11F3-4104-B0B7-4CD87AE3C067 They tend to have a strong feeling of social responsibility. They often feel burdened by the global impact of their decisions, hence; minimising negative outcomes is a high priority. While choosing a car he/she will pay careful attention to levels of CO2 emissions, rate of fuel consumption, kind of fuel and materials used for manufacturing. Their ideal car would be an electric version, as long as it meets his/her budget.

Geographic Segmentation

The fact that we cannot please everyone all the time is one of the reasons why car manufacturers employ geographical segmentations.  This marketing concept/component,helps then to identify and narrow down their intended target. By dividing the market into metropolitan,suburban or rural areas, the segmentation allows OEM to efficiently serve consumers needs, increase profit and gain market shares.

Volkswagen and Renault are not immune to this practise and as such , have strong worldwide presence. It allows them to get close to their current and future consumers effectively. Both companies have factories or assemblies lines in many parts of the world thus, target markets enjoy minimum delay in delivery , implementation and service.  In the case of VW, there are six key geographical regions working efficiently to maintain continuous growth and fulfill their particular goals requirement (North America, Western europe, Eastern Europe, China, India, South America ) These regions are subsequently divided accordingly into rural and metropolitan areas. In all, VW operates in 153 countries while Renault also has a very important world presence currently operating in 128 countries.

Fig. 1 and Fig 2  illustrate the geographical presence of this two companies around the world.

Fig 1

Source: [wiki]



Source: Renault Group

In the european geographical segment, VW clearly dominates the market starting from the mid 2005. On the other hand, Renault saw declining sales from the same time period on forward, although market share enjoyed a slight recovery by the third quarter of 2014. Nevertheless, it the company finds itself far behind the german car maker giant. The competition has been fierce and it seems that Renault is having a very difficult time to regain lost market shares.


Source: Left Lane

These two market segmentation, provide crucial information about the consumer and their taste


Demographic Segmentation

Is another crucial kind of segmentation. Overall statistics of European car market shows that the average age of new car buyers is relatively high. CETELEM survey shows that the average new car buyer is 49.5 years.  Further observation indicates that there’s not significant deviation from the average point. For example, in the UK, where the number reaches the extreme point is at 54.5 years old compared to the lowest point of 43.2 years old in Portugal.


Such high ages segments of new car buyers may be explained or attributed to the  relatively high unemployment levels found within European younger market segments. However, a paradoxical trend can be observed in Spain. The country has the highest youth unemployment rate amongst all others in the list (except Portugal), but yet,  is in the second position regarding youngest average age of new car buyers. So…correlation is yet to be found.

Further investigation shows, that only 11% of buyers are younger than 30 and 29% are older than 60; with most of young drivers in Portugal(20%) and most of elderly in UK(41%).


The next graph shows relative buying decisions regarding novelty of vehicles, divided in two age-groups.



Here again Spain surprises with relatively high ratio of new cars in younger population. In France, on the other hand, the younger consumer, prefers second-hand vehicles.

In all, older European consumer populations shows a shifts in their behavioral patterns and buying decisions. Age groups that are responsible for most of the demands observed on the car market are essentially comprise by, those who either have started families or retired.



Consumer Analysis:

Part 1 — Needs

Part 2 — Decision Making

Part 3 — Segmentation

Part 4 — Trends