Customer Acquisition Case Study : Volvo’s Leap Back Into the American Market: A Picture of Volvo in 2020


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In 2012, Volvo was opening its collective eyes to the first true concept of a future without Ford Motor Group at the helm. The Swedish engineering firm had sold its auto-making division to Ford in the early 2000s, and it was unclear at the time if we’d see any progress or new styles coming from the Volvo name.

Instead, Ford seemed to utilize Volvo’s talents for its own projects. The company owned the Land Rover and Aston Martin names, both cars in desperate need of upgrades. The same platform that was used to design the Volvo S80 would prove the source of inspiration for the Land Rover Freelander. Of course, modern Volvo’s trade off with some of the principles of Ford design. Nowhere is that more apparent than the V40, which is built on Ford’s C-1 platform giving it a look all too similar to a Ford Fiesta or Focus.

Yet there was another problem looming on the horizon, the same one that any Saab owner knows well. If no new models were being released, and Volvo resources dedicated to Ford projects, what would become of Volvo owners and their cars?

Volvo’s US Revival

Volvo never stopped making cars, nor did it stop selling them. It just calmed its efforts in the US down as it ramped up production in Europe and sales in China. Unfortunately, it’s not enough to have just a few slices of the pie. Unlike Suzuki and Saab, both minor but recognizable names that gradually faded out of existence, Volvo intended on ramping up its US presence.

The company plans a five prong approach:

·  Product renewal, Volvo wants to look and feel different. It has borrowed some of Ford’s design elements to pull this off, but expects to be its own brand by 2018.

·  Marketing: becoming a brand people recognize is going to take a concerted effort at pitching products to people.

·  Dealers: Volvo recognizes the need to employ dealers and build a strong nationwide network.

·  Status: No one wants to buy a car that loses value the moment it leaves the lot. Volvo intends on building cars that keep their value so users feel like their investments are protected.

·  Service: Volvo will ramp up its support for dealers and their service arms. That means an increase in Volvo performance parts stateside, and a renewed focus on timely service with reliable parts.

Will the industry support this kind of expansion? Volvo sells between 50,000 and 200,000 units per year. Depending largely on US sales. So the question isn’t whether they can do it, it’s how Volvo will appeal to the US Market.

Gearing Up For The American Market

Volvo has also made a few hard design choices it plans to stick to. First and foremost is that the company will focus on producing four-cylinder vehicles, including SUVs. It has added extensive navigation to most of its models, and remote features that stop and start the car at the press of a button.

These choices have eaten away at Volvo’s potential success in the US market. Americans are car people, as are Europeans. The difference is that Europeans are getting new model Volvos while Americans are still seeing the same old styles. You can put WiFi in an S60, but it’s still the same S60 the Americans have seen for the past 15 years.

The good news is that in addition to new technology, Volvo has also promised to bring some new styles to America. We’re not seeing the intriguing V40 anytime soon, but America will get a Chinese made Volvo among a few other styles to ship stateside soon.

Volvo isn’t seeing the sales it wants out of the US, and appears to be taking an introspective look at why that may be. The company intends to stay in the US, but it will have to re-examine how it markets itself and what it sells to US consumers.


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