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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Brand Positioning analysis

We can segment car buyers needs similar to Maslow’s ‘hierarchy of needs’ pyramid. Thus, while advertising vehicles, certain levels of needs can be addressed, depending on segment.

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Entry-level segment products satisfy basically first two levels of needs: ability to transport something safely + some exclusively utilitarian features(e.g. large trunk,). Mid-price vehicles have to add emotional component to the mix: comfort, performance, excitement of driving. And premium segment products should possess certain status-markers, that’ll establish buyers within desired social groups. So, advertising campaign, promoting different car segments should focus on addressing specific features, that’ll satisfy respective need levels.

Positioning your car brand may appear somewhat tricky. There are a lot of factors to take into account, such as desired margin, potential volume and your own capabilities to support that volume. Recent study[LINK McKinsey 2020] reveals the following structure of car market.

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     Thus, Premium segment secures (to some extent) revenues even for lower sales volumes. In order to successfully operate in mid-price segment you have to be pretty confident in your capabilities to support large volumes of car sales. And entry level implies some really harsh limitations — you have to be extremely efficient in order to break even in production of low-cost vehicles.
     Such limitations stimulate upward shift in car brand positioning, because it may seem a bit easier to operate in premium segment, than in mid-price, not to mention harsh environment of entry-level segment. Recently, French car manufacturers have followed exactly the path. They began to reposition themselves, shifting upwards in direction of premium segment, settling just below Audi, BMW and Mercedes. However, Renault is not one of them. This car manufacturer suppressed the urge to follow the trend, focusing instead on concentrating it’s effort on further expansion in mid-price and entry level segments. However, Renault keeps probing premium class with it’s niche initiatives like Alpine and Initiale Paris. But still, core brand positioning of Renault is “People’s car”.
Positioning itself in mid-price and entry level has its own draw-backs. The brand faces the problem of contradictory perception of itself in minds of consumers. Entry-level and affordable vehicles tend to be not associated with quality. Thus, if positioned in both segments, entry-level implications seriously impact sales of mid range vehicles. That’s why car manufacturers try to establish separate brands for different segments — they try to avoid mis-match in associations and targeting. Renault established it’s low-cost entry-segment Dacia brand with a specific purpose to operate on entry-level market and diminish influence of such operation on core brand. However, on some markets, where entry-level segment was worth much more than mid-price (developing markets), Renault didn’t use at all Dacia brand, instead using it’s own badge. The strategy appeared to be successful, as it basically associated mid-price attributes with entry-level price, seriously increasing sales in entry-level segment. But at the same time increasing popularity of entry-level cars, shifted brand perception towards entry-level attributes, thus diminishing sales in mid-price segment.
     In order to overcome this situation, Renault came up with a marketing initiative, targeted to reinforce company’s image as quality car manufacturer. They designed double-logo system, where traditional Renault logo was supported by Quality made Renault logo.
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     The two logos appeared (and continue to do so on some markets) simultaneously on any kind of media used for advertising. At some moment in time company finally realised that they win manufacturers title of F1 for 10 years in a row, where 3 teams use their engines and that that could be used as support for establishing Renault as “Quality brand”. So, they came up with third logo, that joined the duo and aimed to support and prove the “quality made” one.
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     On some markets(e.g. UK) the three logos follow each other in the final part of every TV advertising. Renault even launched additional supportive campaign to reinforce the statement even further, trying to fix a stable association of a brand as a champion of F1:
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     These efforts aim to establish Renault as “People’s champion brand”, implying that both quality and affordability can be attributes of the same vehicle. They support the statement by success in most sophisticated car championship in the world. Renault also supports 3 other major championships: Formula Renault, World Series by Renault and Formula E.
     All these initiatives lead us to Renault’s positioning as “People’s Champion” — car brand that integrates affordability and “champion” quality in the same bottle vehicle.
     Volkswagen has much more trouble with positioning, then one can think of… To begin with, it’s hard to justify almost premium price for a car, that has “People’s car” (almost “Folk’s car”) in it’s name. However, that doesn’t appear to be an issue outside Germany (and I’m not sure about “Folk’s car” part). The main problem in VW positioning is with it’s family, where all the bunch(VW, Skoda, Seat) tends to occupy the same segment and even has the same upward shift trend.
     Initially, as was mentioned before, VW destined Skoda to become entry-level brand, however, rebellious Czech brand wanted higher margins and found ways to outperform it’s Spanish brother, Seat, in conquering European markets as a mid-price brand, and even stepping on toes of VW.  Eventually, Skoda’s CEO was fired, but the brand was already firmly established in mid-range segment. Seat, on the other hand, under-performs constantly and faces never-ending troubles in gaining at least some profits, having trouble with it’s mid-price positioning.
     But what’s the positioning of core brand, Volkswagen? In the late 1990s VW implemented strategy of upward shift from people’s car perception towards premium segment. It used AUDI’s premium technologies in VW models, which were marketed as premium features for affordable price. The tagline later transformed in “The power of German Engineering”, which implied the overall state-of-the-art quality of VW cars and justified higher prices. The tradition continues, as VW advertises it’s vehicles, focusing mostly on their specific features and technical qualities.
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     In majority of cases these appear to be cross-platform features, that are simultaneously implemented in various VW brands in different segments. Having little trouble with quality, company succeeds with that strategy as is strongly associated with quality and performance.
     In spite of having a bunch of brands in premium and luxury segments, VW itself constantly probes premium segment with various efforts. VW Phaeton is one example, where company failed to extend it’s perception to premium segment. Right now company plans to extend both to entry level and premium segments. Volkswagen apparently is amazed by how much cash Audi generates and wants to share the pie.
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Brand Portfolio Analysis

In order to analyse brand portfolio of Renault and Volkswagen, all the brands should be brought to some structure. Focusing attention on consumer vehicles, it’s possible to apply basic price differentiation to brand portfolio. In the graphic below the whole scope of brands of respective companies is differentiated by price with remarks on geographical and behavioural/demographic focus of certain brands.

Renault & VolksWagen Portfolio structure in consumer vehicles

Renault & VolksWagen Portfolio structure in consumer vehicles

Analysing the data, we  may see that Renault-Nissan has well-established it’s brands in broad scope of markets. Most importantly, the alliance has strong presence in entry-level market, which is characterised by high volume and high growth. That secures company’s development in near future in spite of all possible problems with other brands. It has 3 entry-level brands which cover all major developing markets with Dacia being the most important one. In the mid-range market, alliance is represented by it’s two core brands — Renault and Nissan. In order to gain growth at expense of competitors, rather than it’s own fellow brands, Renault and Nissan focus marketing efforts on different car segments, when presented on the same market, e.g. in Europe, Renault offers mostly sedans and coupes, while Nissan focuses on 4×4 and various kinds of SUVs. The Alliance has two brands in premium segment, which are presented simultaneously only on one market ‚ South Korea, where they share different car segments. In luxury&Sports segment company has only two car models: Renault Alpine and Nissan Gt-R.

     On the other hand, Volkswagen group has overwhelmingly strong presence in luxury and sports segment, covering all possible niches with it’s 4 luxury brands: Porsche, Bentley, Bugatti and Lamborghini. In premium segment, Volkswagen is traditionally presented with it’s Audi sub-brand. However, the core volkswagen brand is constantly moving upward, stepping on toes of Audi. But that’s a mid-range segment, where company has real mess. SEAT, being subject of losses, constantly fails to gain new markets. It’s desperately set to conquer European youth markets, but is still the least popular brand in volkswagen’s portfolio. On the other hand, Skoda, which was intended to become volkswagen’s entry-level brand, failed to fulfil this purpose so as well. The brand appeared to deliver exceptional quality and service, which justified incredible upward shift from entry-level reaching upper mid-range, the domain of volkswagen itself. However, Volkswagen managed to fire Skoda’s CEO and re-set it’s development a bit. The fact is, Skoda’s expansion was achieved at expense of other Volkswagen group brands, which means that it literally caused more harm than good. Now the group has to face the fact, that it has no presence in, most juicy in terms of volume, entry-level segment, and has to deal with cannibalisation of it’s brands in mid-range and upper mid-range segments.
The following graphic helps visualise degree of presence of each group in respective car-segments. Models range is centred on mid-range vehicles.
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Sources:
Annual reports: [Renault];[Nissan];[Audi];[Porsche];[Skoda];[Seat]

The anatomy of brand positioning model

In order to compare the communication plan of the two companies, we are going to examine the anatomy of brand positioning of both companies. The brand positioning is composed of six elements:

  • Brand heritage
  • Brand domain
  • Brand values
  • Brand assets
  • Brand personality
  • Brand reflection

124466AD-0A34-4C9F-BD58-C13EED804ABE Source : http://www.staffs.ac.uk/sgc1/faculty/market-for-mans/week5.html

 

Renault

 Volkswagen

Brand domain Popular car Popular car
Brand heritage “4 chevaux”MotorsportFusion with Nissan « Type 1 »DesignBeetle
Brand values Closeness with the clientSecuritySustainable mobility Customer focusTop performance Responsibility and sustainability
Brand assets DiamondRelation with motorsportsSloganAdvertising Design“Das auto”
Brand personality MotorsportsPartnerships Iconic brand imageThe Beetle
Brand reflection Good and secure French car Secure – Cool – Fun – Hype

RENAULT

Brand domain

Renault  in one of the main players in the automobile world market.  Recently Renault-Nissan bought Samsung Motors and Dacia to develop its internationalisation strategy and certainly to expand its market. The acquisition of Samsung motors is strategic. In fact, Renault has set their sight on building  a vast and modern state of the art manufacturing facility in Indonesia. This future facility will be producing about 240 000 cars per year. By this strategic plan, Renault and Nissan will have the opportunity to produce close to targeted Asian Market. Moreover, by acquiring Dacia, Renault was able to target a new market segment : base range and budget cars. It proved to be a successful step taken by the manufacturer due to the fact that Dacia reached a new sales record in 2013 (404 000 units).

Brand heritage

In 1898, Louis Renault and his brothers founded the Renault society. But at the beginning, Renault was just focusing on sports car. In fact, the society became famous thanks to the impressive results obtained in car racing competition. By 1905, Renault began to expand their market and started to produce vehicles targeting the general population. During the WWI, Renault created trucks, stretchers, ambulances, shells or tanks. Some of their models became world famous like the 4cv, la Dauphine, Renault 25 and nowadays with the Renault Espace, Megane, and Laguna. A very important part of Renault history was  the merging event that occurred in 1999 with the Japanese car manufacturing Nissan Motors. The merger proved to be a very successful endeavor, unlike the failed merger attempt with the Swedish car giant, Volvo back in 1993. Nevertheless, these events indicated the shifting strategy that Renault was pursuing in order to gain internationalization of the brand and expansion into the emerging markets. Further reading can be found in dedicated post.

Brand values

Closeness with the client: One of Renault main differentiation strategy consisted in revolutionizing client relationships in a more efficient manner. According to Mr Plantegenest, commercial director of Renault, the objective for 2016 is to be the leader regarding customer relations. As he mentioned, Renault is among the top 5 car manufacturers and in some countries, is already the leader. By trying to meet and exceed customers expectations, the company is regaining lost terrain and it is constantly seeking new ways to do it more efficiently. Security: Renault relied greatly in innovation and development of  advanced technologies for accident prevention. For example, Renault created ‘driver assistance’, a concept to anticipate inherited risks. The four objectives are: Prevent, correct, protect the occupants and protect children. These objectives are essential for Renault and it weights considerably in every decision that the company takes regarding the new technologies developed by the company. Sustainable mobility: Renault also was behind the whole concept known as ”Eco-conduite” Here, fuel efficiency became primordial due to the changing behaviors of the drivers. The main goal was to consume less fuel from previous years.

Brand assets

Diamond: the logo is very important in the car market. The story of Renault logo “the Diamond” is very specific. In fact, for the creation of the “40 chevaux” the installation of the alarm (the circular horn) was a huge problem for the manufacturers. This installation required a gap in car body. For the manufacturer this gap was not a good idea. And they find the solution. They were wearing a huge diamond of 25 cm high to hide the hole in the car body. And this diamond becomes the symbol of Renault. The diamond stay since 1925. Nowadays, the diamond is implemented in 3D. renault-logo Motorsports: The motor sport racing is closely associated with Renault history. A strong legacy and tradition were spearheaded by the company, thanks to their success in the world of car races. And nowadays, Renault have their own formula 1 racing team  (Lotus-Renault). They also supply engines(power units) to 3 more teams. Slogan: “Drive the Change”. Over the years and with the continuous improvement of the brand, slogan also changed to keep up with the latest models innovation. But now this new slogan shows the importance of the new values of the manufacturer.

  • Sustainable mobility
  • Innovation

In fact, Renault wants to be part of the new edge of Electric car. (Renault project Z.E.)

Advertising: The car manufacturer uses the same character on all TV commercial for the last 3 years( Nicolas Carpentier). He is not a world famous celebrity or a world leader, but it’s perfectly what Renault targets. Nicolas Carpentier is the perfect “normal guy”, he can be a father or a young worker. With this idea in mind o use only this character we know exactly that if we see this actor on a TV commercial it’s a Renaut add.

Brand personality

Motorsports: As previously mentioned, Renault history is closely associated with the motorsport world. Events like Renault 8 Gordini, the Alpine, and the creation of the Renault sport series, it becomes one of the most wealthy and influential car manufacturers, currently ranking number 4 worldwide. All these successful events drove the brand into the world stage where it showcase their expertise and efficiency due to the nature of these challenges where competition is very intense.  Partnership: Renault was a part of huge and famous events. For 27 years, Renault was the official partner of the “Festival de Cannes”. This event is very famous and has a good impact on the image of Renault. (Luxury, Beauty, Charm…)

Brand reflection

Renault have the image of a “Good and secure French car”. No one will describe the car as a luxurious car. It’s a car not expensive that can be convenient for all the family. For instance, the Renault CLIO is one of the most esteemed cars by French people according to a recent survey did by the CCFA (comité des constructeur français d’automobile).

VOLKSWAGEN

Brand domain

Volskwagen is implemented since 1930’s in the automotive market for middle class. Over time, the Volkswagen Group acquired other brands such as Audi, Seat and Skoda in order to position itself in every segment. In addition, they also diversify on the markets of trucks and motorcycles.

Brand heritage

Quality and authenticity are becoming key selling points in communication. In hard times, people are looking for comfort from the past. That is why in 2008, in an effort to get back to their German roots, Volkswagen created a talking Beetle, named “Max”, to interview German celebrities (Heidi Klum, David Hasseloff..) and deliver bad jokes with a fake German accent. The campaign’s weak attempt to link back to the birthplace of their brand via stereotypes attracted lots of negative comments and one of the biggest sales drops in recent years. VW’s Beetle is the best example of embracing their brand heritage. They took the original car concept and modernized the design to include conveniences and amenities that the buying public would demand. The brand heritage instilled in the Beetle is more than just names or symbols; they represent a legend or storyline that consumers can follow. Further reading in dedicated post.

Brand values

Customer focus: The brand wants to satisfy every segment of the population Top performance: Innovation for everyone is their trademark. In 2013, Volkswagen has become the most innovative company in the world according to the latest ranking of Booz & Company. The brand spent $ 11.4 billion in 2013 to research and development. Responsibility and sustainability: The Group pays real attention to the environment in the area of ​​recycling and eco-consumption

Brand assets

Logo: Volkswagen or VW was founded in 1938 by order of Adolf Hitler in Stuttgart. In 1938, the first car to emerge was “Ladybug” by Ferdinand Porsche’s Volkswagen logo represents the V Volks (the people) and W Wagen (car) in a circle. Originally a cogwheel surrounded the circle. It disappeared after the second World War. FDC79061-822D-43C8-A15F-59C955ECF017 Slogan: Volkswagen currently distributes advertising with two different slogans:

  • “Das auto”: a reminder of the German origins of the brand. Indeed, everything that comes across the Rhine has de facto a positive connotation of quality and know-how.
  • “Le plus dur, c’est de choisir”: which perfectly corresponds with the brand positioning. Indeed, with this slogan, the brand claims all choices for every consumer.

Brand personality

Volkswagen is a globally recognised brand that is known by everybody thanks to its truly iconic brand image. In recent years, Volkswagen tops its rankings as one of the 20 best brands in the world. This shows that the Volkswagen brand is not only branded, but also highly wanted by the global market as well! Through effective brand differentiation, Volkswagen has created a positive brand image and likeability for its brand because people just love its brand’s distinctive personality. Furthermore, Volkswagen further strengthens its positive brand image by being a brand that is able to reach out to a wide scale of consumers ranging from car enthusiasts, corporate executives and family people. By launching different categories for its car models, Volkswagen is able to fulfil each and every of its customers’ needs. The Beetle is the part of brand personality of the brand. Indeed, created in1960s, it has been recently reincarnated forty years later. Today, customers celebrate the 1960s spirit symbolized by the flower vase on the dashboard.

Blog 3Brand reflection

After the purchase of Volkswagen drivers feel completely safe in a car on top of innovation. Indeed, the German automaker Volkswagen this year became the number one safety in its vehicles, award given by the American Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). The hot ad agency Crispin Porter Bogusky created the new advertising last year for Volkswagen. Now there was a brand that had lost its luster and consumer loyalty. The brand reflection of owning a VW had become neutral at best, with many potential car buyers believing that the iconic German brand now was boring and stodgy. The declining sales of Volkswagen’s reflected this declining brand reflection. The agency came up with several edgy campaigns that, like them or not, injected some cool and fun back in the Volkswagen brand. Now owning a Volkswagen said you were hip and even kind of cutting edge about cars. The Volkswagen brand reflection was positive again, and sales rose (and are still rising). Of course, this coincided with Volkswagen also improving its product.

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edited by Roman Ayala


Sources:

http://www.ccfa.fr/Renault-veut-devenir-numero-un-de,124737 http://www.creads.fr/blog/nouveau-nom-nouveau-slogan/nouveau-slogan-renault-changeons-de-vie-changeons-automobile/ http://www.volkswagen.fr/fr.html http://www.brandrepublic.com/go/volkswagen/