Among the cars recently launched in Europe, it was the latest-generation Skoda Superb midsize car that caught the attention of many online car buffs. According to a survey made by global research consultancy TNS, Skoda made more of a digital splash than Mercedes-Benz’s luxury SUVs. That’s quite an achievement for Skoda, which is Volkswagen Group's value brand.
TNS said that Skoda offered free test drives to those influential in the digital world ahead of the launch of its flagship model so that they can help spread the word. Skoda gave emphasis to the more advanced equipment and its stylish design compared to the older versions.
The new Superb uses semi-autonomous driving technology that’s typically featured in the higher-priced vehicles. Mercedes took second place with its GLE, the replacement for the M class SUV. The GLE was seen in the trailer for the "Jurassic World" movie.
With this appearance, it garnered plenty of attention from the online community. Coming in at third place is Renault’s new Kadjar, which competes in Europe’s compact SUV segment. At fourth place is its new Espace minivan. Renault used conventional advertising in launching these two new vehicles, leading to some impressive online buzz.
Ads for the Kadjar focused on videos of young male Kadjar drivers who went on adventurous activities like kayaking, tight rope walking, driving in the snow, and hang gliding. Actor Kevin Spacey helped promote the Espace.
TNS based its findings on the forums, blogs, and social media chatter of about 3,000 digital influencers in the automotive industry residing in Germany, Spain, the UK, and France. Who TNS considered as influencers are those who post relevant content, are active commentators, and have significant power in social media.
According to Remy Pothet, head of TNS's automotive practice, Skoda has been “successful” at integrating online conversations into its marketing and launch activities. In a statement, Pothet said that to have an understanding of how online buzz affects buyers’ decision-making process, companies have to identify, profile, and monitor “the most important digital influencers.”
He said that car buyers have been increasingly more trusting of digital influencers as a source of information. He added that as over 90% of people look at unbiased online sources, which include forums and blogs, manufacturers have to invest in this area or “risk losing out on a huge slice of the market.”