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Volvo by Florian Van Duyn

How Volvo Markets to Millennial Car Shoppers & What You Can Learn

Volvo has always had a reputation for being the safe choice, right? It's built for rugged weather conditions and has been a favorite with families for decades. 

But the safe choice isn't exactly the phrase you’d associate with millennials. Still, millennial car shoppers are exactly who Volvo has started targeting.

And it’s paying off.

Big time.

The global car giant is speeding ahead with global 2018 first-quarter retail sales up by 14.1%.

So what are they doing right?

In this blog, I’ll go over three marketing strategies that Volvo have used to convert and sell. Both on a global level and a local dealership level.

#1 Influencer marketing

#2 Covering every online touchpoint

#3 Reinventing the buying experience

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#1 Influencer Marketing

Like most brands, Volvo has had to face a new reality. About 84% of millennials don’t like or trust traditional advertising. Meaning Volvo needed to find a new way to connect with potential customers.

To do this Volvo turned to influencer marketing to inspire younger demographics.

Last year, Volvo USA worked with luxury fashion influencer, Aimee Song to promote the Volvo XC90 to her followers. A luxury fashion blogger doesn’t seem like an obvious fit for the car maker but you’d be surprised, the gamble paid off.

Volvo calculated that each one of Aimee’s Instagram followers was worth more than $1 in media exposure. With just three Instagram posts and a story to her roughly 4,6 million followers (at the time), Aimee generated $5 million worth of media exposure for Volvo.

Influencer marketing isn’t a one size fits all solution. It’s difficult to hit that sweet spot. To work out which influencer will have the reach and quality you want. Some brands simply don’t believe it works at all.

But Volvo USA published their results and the numbers speak for themselves.


Action Points

Ask yourself whether you think using influencer marketing might help your marketing efforts. Look at the numbers and consider your ad spend. Maybe choosing an unconventional influencer like Volvo did could pay off. 

#2 Covering Every Online Touch Point

Google’s research into the Zero Moment of Truth (ZMOT) told us that millennials use every single online touch point they can when they’re making purchasing decisions.

Even so, many car makers and dealers are only optimizing their websites to convert and neglecting the other touch points.

Volvo seems to know this and they’re taking advantage of the gap. They’re on the front lines of Facebook Lead Ads.

They’re present on all digital platforms and it’s not limited to the global level. Even down to the local national dealers, Volvo is meticulous about being present on every touch point.

Check out how they take their printed PDF marketing brochures and create a new conversion channel by turning them into mobile-friendly online brochures.

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The videos and images boost engagement. The “Book a Test Drive” pop-ups boost conversion which they can track in Google Analytics. (I dove more in depth into this in my last blog, ‘How Car Makers Go From Brochure To Test Drive, And How You Can, Too’, you can check it out here).

And by putting their online brochures under their branded domain they’re also boosting their Google indexing. That's smart.

By converting and marketing on every online touch point, Volvo is getting greater reach with millennials because it’s not only focusing on its website or traditional advertising.

Action Points

Audit your online presence. Are you utilizing every online touch point? Are you present on all the relevant channels? More importantly, are you offering your readers something of value on each of those channels? Articles, educational material, price lists, brochures, quizzes, newsletter sign-ups. Whatever it is, is it delighting your audience? Is it moving them along the buyer’s journey?

#3 Reinventing the Buying Experience

Volvo Care hasn’t had the best start but it’s getting there, and no matter what you have to admire what they’re doing.

More millennials than ever are embracing the subscription model because it offers freedom. Think about it, millennials don’t buy music anymore, they have Spotify. They don't rent DVD's, they watch Netflix, they have a mobile subscription, many even use Dollar Shave Club.

Volvo Care is among the first car subscription services and that’s the key here. They’re not trying to sell cars, but the service of transportation.

By doing this Volvo isn't just reinventing the buying experience for millennials. They're tailoring their offering to suit how young people spend their money.

And while it’s easy to dismiss millennials because they’re younger, in actuality, early millennials are already in their thirties and combined they have a purchasing power totaling $170 billion per year in the US alone. Far surpassing their Generation X predecessors at $125 billion. This means they are fast becoming the most influential group of consumers.

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That Volvo’s experimenting with its offerings tells us that they’re considering the needs of younger consumers. It also tells us that they’re future proofing.

They’re not limiting themselves or their customers to one way of buying their product, and by doing so they’re staying open to new markets.

Action Points

Ask yourself, how you can reinvent your buyer’s experience? Is it possible for you to capitalize on a growing social or economic trend to help deliver that new experience? How can you make it as easy as possible for your consumers to use your product?


One thing I’ve learned from Volvo’s Marketing strategy is that you can be the safe choice and still take risks. Because sometimes taking risks is the only way to stay safe.

If Volvo didn’t embrace trendier marketing strategies like influencer marketing and subscription plans, they’d risk becoming dinosaurs.

And if they didn’t pursue every online touch point outside of their website, the way they have with online brochures, social media, and email - they’d risk missing out on huge conversion channels.


Banner for eBook Building Future Growth with Car Brochures


A version of this blog was originally published on Linkedin. As it was super cool and relevant, Balazs was generous enough to republish it here on our Digital Marketing Blog. 

Resources Used For This Blog

Volvo Press Release: First Quarter 2018 Operating Profit Report

AdWeek: 8 Stats From Volvo Show Why Instagram Influencers Can Drive Great Branding

Forbes: Millennials And The Digital Experience, Getting Your Digital Act Together

Facebook Case Study: Success for Volvo On Facebook Lead Ads

Jalopnik: Care by Volvo Is Off To A Messy Start

Goldman Sachs: Interactive Infographic, Millennials Coming Of Age

iPaper Digital Marketing Blog; How Car Makers Go From Brochure To Test Drive, And How You Can Too

About the author

Balazs Judik

Balazs Judik

As an automotive industry specialist and SaaS enthusiast, I help digital marketeers from the industry's major brands to innovate their brochures and succeed in their objectives.

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