Sales and Marketing

As part of our future program, we have developed a sales and marketing strategy aimed at exciting customers on a whole new level under the slogan “customer delight”. We regard ourselves as an innovative and sustainable mobility provider for all commercial and private customers worldwide – with a unique product portfolio encompassing twelve successful brands and innovative financial services.

In the 2018 fiscal year, we achieved a milestone in our TOGETHER sales strategy: together with their sales partners and importers, our passenger car brands agreed on a procedure for integrating innovative products and services into the sales network. The priority is safe handling of customer data and the way in which this is processed for digital products and services or in connection with the vehicle purchase. The legal requirements for handling customer data have been tightened in many countries. At the same time, new Group vehicles that are permanently connected to the Internet are about to be launched. We are increasingly investing in distribution systems and processes with the goal of further digitalizing and improving the individual customer experience in all distribution channels.

Optimal coverage of markets, customer segments and customer budgets is at the heart of a strategic Group initiative. To this end, we are establishing automobile-specific customer segmentation to steer the positioning of our brands. At the same time, we are examining global markets for potential revenue sources. This methodology has already been established for Europe and China and was rolled out to further markets including the United States and Brazil in 2018. It will be continuously applied in the strategy and product process and regularly reviewed and adjusted as necessary whenever new market requirements arise.

Customer satisfaction and customer loyalty

The Volkswagen Group aims its sales activities at exciting its customers. This is our top priority, as excited customers remain loyal to our brands and recommend our products and services to others. In addition to satisfaction with our products and services, we value our customers’ emotional connection to our brands. It is important for us to retain customers and win new ones. To measure our success in this area, we compile and analyze two strategic indicators for the major passenger car-producing brands:

  • Loyalty rate. Proportion of customers of our passenger car brands who have bought another Group model. The loyalty of Volkswagen Passenger Cars, Audi, Porsche and ŠKODA customers has kept these brands in the upper loyalty rankings in the core European markets in comparison with competitors for a number of years even though the Volkswagen Passenger Cars and Audi brand have seen a slight decrease in the loyalty rate as a consequence of the diesel issue. Compared to other manufacturer groups, the Volkswagen Group continues to hold a top spot in the core European markets in terms of loyalty, with a considerable margin over the competition.
  • Conquest rate. Newly acquired passenger car customers as a proportion of all potential new customers. Here, too, the Volkswagen Group has a top ranking in comparison with competitors, primarily thanks to the good scores achieved by the Volkswagen Passenger Cars brand.

In the core European markets, the downward trend in brand image and brand trust at the Volkswagen Passenger Cars brand as a consequence of the diesel issue did not continue in 2018. After the first signs of recovery had been seen in 2017, the figures continued to stabilize in the reporting period. Porsche remains in top position in the image ranking.

We also use a strategic indicator to measure the satisfaction of customers with our products and services in the truck business:

  • Customer satisfaction. In the markets relevant for the Volkswagen Group, we aim to be one of the industry leaders in terms of the satisfaction rate for our commercial vehicle brands. To evaluate these criteria, we use customer satisfaction studies, which again delivered exceedingly positive satisfaction figures in line with our targets in the reporting period.

In the financial services business, we use two strategic indicators:

  • Customer satisfaction. Satisfaction of our customers results from a customer-oriented product range and the service focus of our staff. In the annual assessment, these two aspects serve as suitable indicators for the critical evaluation as to whether we will achieve our customer satisfaction target of 90% in 2025. In 2018, we were within the expected range with a satisfaction rate of 82%. Our goal is to satisfy our customers completely. To do so, we are developing current measures at country level.
  • Customer loyalty. Trust in and loyalty to our services rely on customer satisfaction with our product range and service. New contract rates are regularly determined based on product sales to our customers – financing and leasing agreements for purchases of new Volkswagen Group vehicles. Currently at 20%, these are proof of customers’ trust in our financial services. With ambitious targets of 50% for 2025, we underscore the focus on fulfilling the needs of our customers.

E-mobility and digitalization in Group Sales

As part of our Roadmap E, we aim to offer our customers around the world more than 80 new electric models, including around 50 pure battery-electric vehicles and 30 plug-in hybrids by 2025. This campaign will be complemented by vehicle-related, customer-focused offerings, such as customized charging infrastructure solutions and mobile online services. This is turning the Volkswagen Group from an automotive manufacturer into a mobility service provider, posing completely new challenges for sales.

We are making highly targeted use of the opportunities of digitalization in sales, which include an improved customer approach. Our actions are guided by a clearly defined strategy that requires extensive cooperation between the brands to achieve the greatest possible synergies. Our aim here is to create a completely new product experience for the customers of our brands – one which impresses with its seamless communications, from the initial interest in purchasing a vehicle, to servicing and ultimately to the sale of the used car. In doing so, we are opening up new business models relating to every aspect of the connected vehicle – in particular with regard to mobility and other services. Vehicles are becoming an integral part of the customer’s digital world of experience.

We also gear our internal processes and structures to the methods and new forms of working created by digital innovation. The result is project teams operating across different business areas, new forms of cooperation, a more intensive relationship with the international start-up scene, a consolidation of venture capital expertise – as a form of supporting innovative ideas and business models – as well as new lean systems and cloud-based IT solutions.

Fleet customer business

Business relationships with fleet customers are often long-term partnerships. In a volatile environment, this customer group guarantees more stable vehicle sales than the private customer segment.

The Volkswagen Group has an established base of business fleet customers in Germany and the rest of Europe in particular. Our extensive product range enables us to satisfy their individual mobility needs from a single source.

In the German passenger car market, which declined as a whole by 0.2% in 2018, the share of fleet customers in total registrations fell to 13.6 (14.1)%. The Volkswagen Group’s share of this customer segment decreased to 44.0 (44.7)%. Outside Germany, the Group’s share of registrations by fleet customers in Europe remained stable at 25.2 (25.2)%. The upward trend until August shows that fleet customers still have considerable confidence in the Group. The temporary limitation of the model range as a consequence of the changeover to the WLTP had a negative impact from September 2018 onwards.

After Sales and Service

In addition to individual service, the timely provision of genuine parts is essential to ensure passenger car customer satisfaction in After Sales. The genuine parts supplied by our passenger cars brands and the expertise of the service centers represent the highest level of quality and ensure the safety and value retention of our customers’ vehicles. With our global after sales network including more than 130 of our own warehouses, we ensure that almost all our authorized service facilities around the world can be supplied within 24 hours. We regard ourselves as a complete provider of all products and services relevant to customers in the after sales business. Together with our partners, we ensure the worldwide mobility of our customers. The partner businesses offer the entire portfolio of services in all vehicle classes. We are continuously expanding our range of tailored services in order to improve convenience for our customers and increase customer satisfaction.

In the Digital After Sales project, we are modernizing processes and IT systems in After Sales. By adopting an approach that focuses product and service development on the specific needs of both dealers and customers, we aim to reduce the time needed for administrative tasks at the dealers through automated, interrelated services and also stabilize existing IT systems and boost efficiency. Innovative digital after-sales services will additionally improve the customer experience.

Around the world, our commercial vehicles business also prides itself on products of the highest quality and on customer focus. Our range of trucks, buses and engines is complemented by services that guarantee fuel efficiency, reliability and good vehicle availability. The workshop service and service contracts offer customers a high degree of certainty, in addition to a high level of quality. We are reducing servicing times and costs with a view to the vehicles’ total operating costs and helping to retain their value.

In the Power Engineering segment, we help our customers ensure the availability of machinery with MAN PrimeServ. The global network of more than 100 PrimeServ locations guarantees excellent customer focus and offers, among other things, replacement parts of genuine-parts quality, qualified technical service and long-term maintenance contracts.