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Volkswagen’s gamble: Why you should care

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in Leaders & Managers

When Volkswagen launched its Phaeton high-luxury sedan to go head-to-head with $70,000-plus models from Mercedes and BMW, it took one of the biggest risks in the history of automotive marketing.

In focus groups, consumers had said they probably wouldn’t buy such an upscale car from the company that built the Beetle. But VW is betting that consumers won’t behave the way they said they would. When customers see the Phaeton on the road and in showrooms, VW wagers, they will take out their checkbooks and write new automotive history.

In other words, VW leaders are banking on car buyers doing what they say they won’t do. Visionary leaders often understand that distinction, as well, despite the risk of failure.

How can you minimize that risk?Answer these questions:
  • “How have these people behaved before in times of similar change or crisis?”
  • “What advantages and disadvantages will people weigh before they act?”
  •  “What does my gut tell me about how people will really behave?”

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