case studies

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Shift System©

Volkswagen wishes to better address the expectations of potential green car customers. The brand would like to have the right angle to tackle a touchy subject for the very polluting car industry.

The green car customers are complex individuals with their own implicit motivations and contradictions.

To date, classic consumer marketing segmentation (by age, profession, habits…) still hasn’t produced a realistic and practical solution.

Considering the fact that customers show contradictory behaviors, Promise Consulting collaborated with the Sorgem to create an Observatory of contradictory behaviors, allowing a focus on 1000 individuals and 14 tensions (including the automobile/environment tension that we had discretely addressed). This enabled us to:

  1. Quantify the intensity of such contradictory tensions amongst green customers
  2. Qualify these tensions and the resolution strategies used to reduce them
  3. Determine a set of marketing actions that could meet this customer profile’s demands.


By considering the customers’ contradictions as useful information and their resolution strategies as a source of inspiration, Promise Consulting proposed product development, labels and communication axes to Volkswagen in order to turn what used to be an obstacle into an opportunity.


After the study had shown that « the green electric car is a real car first and foremost », Volkswagen changed its product strategy. The brand gave up on developing e-up, its overpriced and underperforming urban vehicle and pushed its e-golf car which combined performance, autonomy and a very satisfactory energy balance.

By doing so, the brand met an important expectation of the green car potential customer: to reconcile environmental concern with automobile performance, while keeping in mind that contradiction is an intrinsic part of the purchasing process. Compared to its competitor the Nissan Leaf, the e-golf has a more premium positioning, explained by its finishing and driving experience.

This project received a silver Marketing Innovation Award from Marketing Magazine / SEMO.