Can a Testimonial Change Buying Criteria?

“This Car Saved My Life”

If you were to go shopping for a new car today, how would you decide what to buy?  Once you figure out whether you want a sedan, a hatchback, a van or an SUV – what criteria will you use to choose?

What Are Your Criteria?

Do you want the most reliable car?  The most economical car?  The car with most horse power?  The car that will turn more heads than any other?

What factors are on your list?  And what’s most important?

Volvo wants to shake up your car buying criteria.   Volvo wants you to move a factor that’s often given little attention, or even ignored, to the top of your list.

The Most Important Thing about a Car

Volvo believes the most important thing about a car is safety.  And it wants you to think the same.

Safety has been Volvo’s focus for decades.  The car maker’s long history of safety innovations began with passenger compartment steel safety cages and laminated windshields in the 1940s.  Since then they’ve introduced scores of other safety advances.

Volvo’s Shifts Safety Message into a Higher Gear

Last month the company shifted its safety claim into a higher gear.  They did it, not by having salesmen describe engineering intricacies, but by having a very select group of customers tell their stories.

Talk to Survivors

The company recruited a dozen Volvo drivers who survived serious car accidents and had them chat with prospective car buyers in a pair of Miami shopping malls.

The mall displays had shiny new Volvos, safety posters and signs that read: “Talk with real people who survived thanks to Volvo.”

Powerful Personal Stories

The Volvo Survivor Sales Agents told their very powerful and very personal stories.

One of the survivors who brought a copy of her head x-rays to explain the extent of her injuries said “I thought I may never see my daughter again.”

“Choosing the right car is a matter of life and death.”

“Let me show you the Volvo that saved my life.”

“After that accident, I wouldn’t think of getting any other car but a Volvo.”

“That car gave its life to save mine.”

A Powerful Impression

The survivors’ stories made quite an impression on the shoppers in the mall and rearranged their car buying priorities.

One man commented “I used to think about the color, the design – but now I think about my family.”

The Best Salesman I’ve Ever Met

Another observed “This guy’s not a salesman.  But he’s the best salesman I’ve ever met.”

60% Increase in Visitor Traffic

The company reported that the Survivor Sales Agents attracted 60% more visitors than typical mall displays.  30% of the people who spoke with one of the survivors took a test drive.  And most of that group ended up at a dealership to get a Volvo.

Can customer testimonials change buying criteria?  Based on the Volvo Survivor Sales Agents story, the answer appears to be yes.  But it can’t be just any story.

What about Your Company?

Does your company have powerful enough testimonials to reshape your prospects’ buying criteria?  What could your best customers say that would tip the balance in your favor?

Volvo’s message is safety.  What’s yours?


The Volvo Survivor Sales Agents story was produced as a video by Letca Films and the New York agency We Believers.  You can see it here.