This is the story of how Volkswagen's Amarok ute created a new premium market, to such extent that drivers of Land Rover, BMW and the like have turned to it.
Success resulted after first being ignored by the traditional ute market and then having to navigate the headwinds of an emissions crisis.
Today, leads are up 4-fold and it is now the most profitable model for Volkswagen in Australia. What follows, is a lesson in the power of a long term ambition, a coherent platform rhythm and a steely gaze on an audience many miles away from the category stereotype.
What was the strategic communications challenge?
Toyota and Ford were the #1 dominators by far: The ute market was flooded - dominated by Toyota Hilux and Ford Ranger. Volkswagen's position was a much weaker one. Our presence was dwarfed by the legacy of Hilux and salience of Ranger. In 2015, Amarok had a 6% share and 52% unaided awareness, far behind Toyota and Ford who had +74% unaided awareness, with a combined market share of 38%. It had been a tough year for the top brass on the basis of Mitsubishi throwing discount at the market. Mitsubishi had enjoyed a bumper year, with 19.4% market share. (Normality resumed by 2016 when Toyota and Ford reverted to a combined share of 46.8%.)1