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Marketing People: Mark McGrath Head of Marketing, Volkswagen Ireland



Marm McGrath, Head of Marketing, Volkswagen Ireland

Marm McGrath, Head of Marketing, Volkswagen Ireland

Marm McGrath, Head of Marketing, Volkswagen Ireland

With a 10.97pc share of the Irish market for new cars in 2018, Volkswagen was the best-selling  automotive brand in Ireland during 2018 as Mark McGrath explains to John McGee.

Describe your role

I head up a core team of four people working across communications, digital, customer and aftersales and we look after the entire marketing function in Ireland including advertising, PR, sponsorship, CRM, digital, social and experiential. We’re also responsible for co-ordinating marketing efforts across 40 retailer and service touchpoints in Ireland as well as local advertising and point-of-sale materials.


What challenges do you face?

The automotive industry in Ireland presents some interesting challenges. Our sales cycle is tied rigidly to the dual registration plates of January and July and this means that the majority of category media spend is pooled into two periods resulting in all brands competing to cut through with similar strategies and offers. Most brands in Ireland are also utilising central assets (pan-European/global assets produced by their HQ) and localising, further increasing the challenge of cut-through to Irish consumers.

The industry is also on the cusp of rapid change with the shift to fully-electric vehicles (EVs). While these account for around 1pc of total registrations currently, this is likely to jump to above 20pc in the space of three years with the introduction of longer-range models.


How do you overcome these challenges?

Looking at the tactical challenges, Volkswagen is in a fortunate position from the perspective of brand awareness and consideration, consistently occupying top positions over the last few years.

However, we build on this by continually evolving our communication approach. Our primary strategy is now on developing highly-integrated media mixes to ensure we are reaching our customers in the right channels, at the right time and optimising the online experience to provide a high-probability of online conversion.

To resonate closer with Irish consumers, we are also investing a huge amount of resource into our sponsorship properties, the IRFU and Uefa, to create unique, lasting and meaningful communications and activations. We also have invested more in media partnerships that primarily communicate the Volkswagen brand whilst also offering genuinely meaningful content for consumers.

Looking at the EV developments, we are currently working on being an information leader on the topic and we have invested heavily in building online resources and tools to help demystify EV driving to consumers.

We will shortly begin launching the ID family of  high-range, affordable electric-only models, from 2020. The ID family is a paradigm shift for the automotive industry. Volkswagen democratised cars once upon a time with the Beetle and aims to do it again for electric vehicles with the ID family.

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