Insights What selfies can teach us about buckling up correctly

Best Use of Insights: Volvo’s #SelfiesforSafety

Disclaimer: I previously drove a Volvo 240DL that went 250,000+ miles before its (early) retirement. The radio never worked, but it ran like a charm for its entire career. While not a huge fan of driving, I loved that car.

Volvo is using selfies in an unexpected, unselfish way. The company has a long history of safety-focused research, and the #SelfiesforSafety campaign extends on this theme, looking to learn how people use safety belts in everyday situations. This data is usually hard to come by, especially from a diverse cross-section of the global population. Volvo took to Instagram:

Crowdsourcing consumer insights

  • Goal: Learn how people use safety belts in everyday situations 
  • Platform: Instagram
  • Ask: Take a selfie in a safely parked car, wear the belt, tag #selfiesforsafety and @volvocars
  • Participants: 2000+ people
  • Insights: 4 in 10 participants wore the safety belt incorrectly
  • Best practice: Fit the top of the safety belt across your chest and over the shoulder, not your arm. Adjust the lower part of the safety belt snug and low over your hips. Never across your stomach. Sit upright with your back against the seat backrest, and you’re good!

Even though the three-point safety belt has existed for over 60 years, people still don’t use it optimally!

Is it paying off?

As it happens, Volvo’s insight-driven, safety-focused strategy has played a big part in building brand loyalty. The company reports that its safety-led changes have had a measurable impact on brand engagement despite minimal marketing spend — audiences are interacting with Volvo’s campaigns and buying cars. Ultimately, as we’re always learning, it comes down to a better understanding of end-users. Brands create value because they offer value to people.


In December 2019, Autocar singled out Volvo as “probably the most interesting car company in the world right now”. Since the 2008 economic crisis, and subsequent acquisition by Geely, the brand has launched an ambitious new vision, pushing for electrification, enhanced safety features and a subscription-based sales model. There’s also talk of a Volvo-Geely merger. Industry veterans are convinced Volvo’s current disruptive approach is actually in keeping with the brand’s safety-focused history. Whether Volvo’s long-term gamble will pay off remains to be seen. But we’re happy to see brands have courage in their convictions, and demonstrate the dynamic thinking necessary to succeed in these unprecedented economic environments.

Simple insights can achieve brand purpose

When it comes to generating value from data — both within an organisation, and externally with customers and stakeholders, Volvo’s approach demonstrates that a long-term strategy pays off. More importantly, capturing user insights can be cost-effective, grow loyalty, and drive tangible business results. Most organisations have plenty of low-hanging fruit they are yet to harvest. Volvo meanwhile, have made their research publicly available as part of their “Equal Vehicles for All” initiative, so other manufacturers can design cars that are safe for everyone. We’re impressed.

Great brands are built on improving the lives of the people they serve. How does your brand serve people? That’s a great place to start, not just with the marketing.