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Chapter 3: Research Methodology
The research methodology for this report entails a careful blend of both primary and secondary sources available.
Primary Sources of Data
Five customers of Skoda and Volkswagen were randomly interviewed for their views about the marketing strategies of both the companies, using open-ended questions to yield maximum response. This helped to assess their response towards the media and campaigns deployed by these brands and to evaluate the extent of impact and penetration of the marketing tools used into the target customers.
Attempts were made to interview at least one reliable personnel from the respective companies. However, due to lack of time and confidentiality issues of the company, this mode of research did not yield any reliable information for evaluation purposes.
Secondary Sources of Data
The secondary sources tapped include various books, published material, both from official as well as unofficial sources and both from electronic as well as print media. These include expert reviews on the marketing strategies of each company, company annual reports and other authentic related articles available on marketing strategies of Skoda and Volkswagen. Various advertisements, both from the print as well as electronic media, have also been carefully studied to conduct a comparative analysis for both the companies.
Chapter 4: Discussion & Analysis
Skoda - Turning Negative Perceptions into Positive
Rather than try to make it into a hero brand, which wasn't realistic, we made it the underdog, and everyone's on the side of the little guy. (James, 2002)
Under the marketing communications strategy deployed by Hawkens and the innovative 'It is a Skoda, honest' campaign, the market share of the company almost doubled. He confronted head-on the car's negative image using subtle, intelligent humor, targeting Skoda 'rejecters' precisely.
The rejuvenating marketing communications strategy of Skoda comprised of (James, 2002):
Advertising: targetting the entire country, primarily through TV.
Drect Marketing: targetted prospective buyers and existing customers, designed to encourage test-driving the new car.
Public Relations: played a supplemental role by image-changing articles. Press was fed with information about motoring awards and VK backing. The success stories about Skoda now read 'History's biggest comeback since Bobby Ewing stpped out of the shower, the new Skoda is hip and sexy - yes, sexy.'
For a budget of about $7 million, Skoda witnessed increased sales, more than 23%, over the course of the 18-month campaign which marked the turn-around for the brand (James, 2002).
Skoda's Marketing Communication Mix
The recent marketing communication strategy of Skoda constitutes the following key elements:
TV Advertising - Most Talked About Add of 2007
TV advertising has always been a win for Skoda. The 'baking of' add of 2007 is a remarkable example of the strategic advertising vision of the company. The award-winning add featured a group of master bakers creating a life-size car out of cake - icing, jelly headlights and "full of lovely stuff" strapline. The 'Favorite Things' soundtrack provided the background score for the extremely attractive recepie.
The cake add was indeed a radical move for Skoda. It was accompanied by columns in leading journals and magazines as the PR team took the initiative to send cake tins with ingredients to journalists. As a part of the direct marketing campaign, chocolate scented air fresheners were sent to potential and existing custoemrs of Skoda. Being an extremely bold positoning, Skoda adds communicated the message of how Skoda delivered exceptional customer service (Turner, 2007).
Award winning website
Skoda UK's official website (www.skoda.co.uk) is yet another critical element of the marketing communications mix of the brand. The highly attractive, animated and engaging website played a crucial role in nurturing the marketing mix of Skoda. Its online marketing campaign won it laurels in 2008- the 'Best Motor Manufacturer Home Page' and 'Best Motor Manufacturer for Purpose Intent' (www.skoda.co.uk). The criteria for judgment included factors such as web design, use of animation, ease of navigation, and search tools available. The site's creative effectiveness has been demonstrated by a remarkable 400% increase in requests for test drives and brochures.
Skoda has indulged in a mobile WAP site MMS MyClick advertising platform as a recent communication strategy. This is an endeavor to deliver a unique brand experience to consumers on their mobile devices.The image recognition technology of MyClick allows Skoda to reach end users with instant services wherever they are. Skoda is using this idea to provide an interactive platform where mobile users can access its 'Believe In Life' information by simply clicking their mobile phone camera (Roberts, 2008).
Volkswagen's Marketing Communications Mix
Volkswagen, the brand, deploys two key elements in its marketing communications strategy:
The official website (www.volkswagen.co.uk) provides the most life-like experience of choosing a car on the internet. It allows the visitors to access the retailers' booking systems and book test drives in real time. Also they are able to see which models are available at any specific time and retailer and make online reservations. The dynamic feedback mechanism employed by the website allows the customer to search and modify their preferred car in real time - hence, as initially imagined by Volkswagen. The website is much responsive and provides a much richer customer experience
Double Marketing - Volkswagen and the Blues
A multi-tiered, fully integrated marketing strategy was incorporated for the multiple-model launch in 2003, with the help of The Blues promotional team (Volkswagen and The Blues, n.d.). The marketing strategy adopted covered a diverse range of communications media including:
TV and radio ads
Online marketing on The Blues website
Paid advertising: print ads in leading journals, in-flight marketing campaign with major national airlines
Events marketing: Radio City concert, presence at key film and music festivals, etc.
Educational outreach: Letter from Volkswagen and logo presence in Teacher's Guides sent to 45,000 teachers nationwide.
Chapter 5: Conclusion
Skoda has gone from trash to treasure with the overwhelmingly innovative marketing strategy of the Volkswagen group. This can be accredited to simply revamping the marketing communications mix, which even called for complete elimination of typical elements such as sponsorships. Instead it focuses primarily on four key aspects of marketing: advertising, direct mail, public relations and more recently online marketing. Ultimately transforming the company image from a 'joke' to a 'hero brand', the correct marketing strategy and timely deployment of that strategy have radically changed the perceptions of Skoda and it is today one of the fastest growing car brands in the UK.
Volkswagen Passenger Cars, on the other hand, is a brand of the same parent group, however with much lesser prominence as compared to that of Skoda. The most prominent feature of VW's marketing strategy is double marketing, vis-á-vis the three-pronged strategy of Skoda. Both brands have strong market presence and are working effectively with their individual marketing strategies. However, those deployed by Skoda are much more impact-full and far-reaching than VW's.
Chapter 6: Recommendations
Skoda is suggested the following set of recommendations:
Although the negative perceptions have withered off, the positive preconceptions are to be secured. Hence, Skoda needs to promote a 'we-are-not-as-bad-as-you-think' impression.
Create a new communications theme that is able to sustain the brand's sense of individuality, without Skoda being perceived as 'just any other car brand'.
Volkswagen Passenger Cars is suggested the following set of recommendations:
Enhance the marketing communications mix with more emphasis on the advertising campaigns, such as those launched by Skoda.