VW wants Korea’s young customers

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VW wants Korea’s young customers

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The latest Beetle, left, and the original Beetle at “The Beetle Iconic Avenue” event yesterday in Itaewon-dong, central Seoul. Provided by the company

Volkswagen has Korea’s young generation in its marketing sights as the German automaker aims to lead the expansion of imported cars with a hip but affordable image.

Volkswagen Korea said that from yesterday to Dec. 29 it is hosting an event called “The Beetle Iconic Avenue” at the stretch of Itaewon-dong’s main boulevard from Hangangjin Station on subway line No. 6 to the headquarters of Cheil Worldwide.

The event is designed to share the cult of Volkswagen’s iconic Beetle with Korean customers, the company said.

The Beetle, which first debuted in 1938, has sold 22.5 million units worldwide. The third-generation Beetle was introduced in Korea last year.

“The Beetle, which has been the root of the Volkswagen brand and an icon of the automobile industry, can’t just be defined by its design and performance,” said Volkswagen Korea CEO Thomas Kuehl. “I want people to experience the Beetle’s emotional value through this event.”

The company said Volkswagen’s Hannam-dong showroom will be transformed into the Beetle Iconic Lounge and will display models from the original Beetle to the latest and also show videos and photographs of the popular vehicle.

To appeal to young customers, Volkswagen Korea said that along with fashion magazine Dazed it will host a party on Dec. 29 and admission can be applied for online on its official Facebook page starting on Monday.

The Beetle promotion will include six other brands and stores, including fashion brand Comme des Garcons, desert cafe Coco Bruni and Rose Bakery, restaurants Bistro Alli and Trevia, and culture center Series Corner.

This is not the first time Volkswagen Korea has done marketing targeted at the younger generation.

In July, the company held a launch for the seventh generation of the Golf model along with fashion magazine Arena Homme Plus at club Ellui in Cheongdam-dong, southern Seoul. Its “the Flavor” promotion was a big hit combining the notions of being a gourmet and automobiles. The Flavor event was held in 13 restaurants nationwide.

Volkswagen said its marketing and promotions will pay off in the future because as the imported car market grows rapidly, young people in their 20s and 30s are their future customers.

“In the past, companies emphasized the performance of cars,” said Kuehl, “but theses days the trend is to emphasize a brand’s emotional value.”

Although the overall sales leader is BMW, Volkswagen has overtaken Mercedes-Benz to become the No. 2 foreign car brand after selling 24,226 vehicles from January through November, a 45.8 percent on-year increase that far exceeded the industry average of 20 percent, according to data from the Korea Automobile Importers and Distributors Association.

The automaker also topped monthly sales last month and in September, placing three of its models - the Tiguan, Golf and Passat - in this year’s best selling imported car models.

According to Kaida, Volkswagen has been the best seller among local customers in their 20s and 30s for last two years.

Volkswagen is currently the No. 1 seller in cars in the 20 million won ($18,800) to 40 million won range, according to Kaida data.


BY JOO KYUNG-DON [kjoo@joongang.co.kr]

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