Volkswagen targets Pinterest auto shoppers with virtual test drive

Volkswagen targets Pinterest auto shoppers with virtual test drive

Dive Brief:

  • Volkswagen is teaming with Pinterest to promote its first all-electric vehicle (EV), the ID.4 SUV, per an announcement emailed to Marketing Dive.

  • Beginning June 14, the auto brand is using Pinterest's platform to offer a virtual experience for consumers, including the ability to take the vehicle on a "test drive" with 360-degree viewing capabilities. The promotion continues next month when Pinterest creators will walk consumers through their favorite parts of the car.

  • The partnership sees Volkswagen attempting to expand its reach by both tapping into Pinterest's growing popularity amongst auto consumers and leveraging the platform to create a virtual shopping experience.

Dive Insight:

Volkswagen is taking a virtual approach toward marketing its new ID.4 SUV, the car brand's first all-electric addition to an increasingly carbon-conscious industry. The number of auto brands offering EVs in the U.S. is expected to increase from 16 to 40 by 2025, according to data cited by MotorTrend, reflecting state and national goals to drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions. At the same time, consumers are more interested in serious commitments to sustainability, and accusations of greenwashing have propelled car brands to move from environmental messaging to actual manufacturing of greener vehicles.

Earlier this year, Volkswagen experienced backlash after announcing it was rebranding as Voltswagen of America, only to later declare the announcement an April Fool's prank aimed at promoting its EV offerings. The automaker's dishonesty with media sources and its facetious treatment of sustainability in light of a recent, multibillion-dollar emissions scandal threatened to hurt the brand's larger EV mission, a consequence it is seeking to avoid with this new effort.

By tapping Pinterest, Volkswagen is hoping to reach environmentally conscious consumers with a product that aligns with their values. Not only do over 8 million people actively engage with auto content on the platform, but people who use Pinterest are 55% more likely to be concerned about their personal carbon footprint than people who don't, per the announcement. Volkswagen's strategy is reminiscent of a recent Hyundai partnership with National Geographic that saw the car brand using an augmented reality series on national parks to promote its electric and hybrid vehicles.

Pinterest's digital offerings also allow Volkswagen to create a completely virtual shopping experience, another move that could help widen the brand's reach. Instead of catering to only the consumers who can and are willing to physically visit a dealership and take the ID.4 on a test drive, Volkswagen is allowing people everywhere to operate the vehicle through a virtual simulation, and with 360-degree viewing capabilities that aim to lend further realism to the experience.

Volkswagen will build on its virtual test drive next month when Pinterest creators walk consumers through their favorite parts of the car, a possible substitute for car salespeople who would provide information in a real visit to a dealership. Given that one-third of auto shoppers who use Pinterest as a resource become inspired to shop for cars they didn't set out to look for, per the announcement, Volkswagen can further tap this interest with the help of trusted creators. In its own Pinterest campaign in March, Toyota also employed Pinterest creators to drive inspiration.

Pinterest's partnership with Volkswagen arrives as the platform is looking to enhance its shopping experience. Coming off a year that saw a 76% jump in annual revenue compared to 2019, Pinterest has been busy teaming with brands and releasing new features, including Idea Pins in May and Shopping List — a tool that allows advertisers to more easily access consumers — last week.