Monday, June 3, 2013

Hyundai Faces Branding Questions With Its Luxury Sedans

It's big and beautiful, but would you know it's a Hyundai?
Five years ago Korean automaker Hyundai made a bold move by introducing the upscale Genesis and Equus models to their American lineup.  Buyers have responded very positively to the two sedans, and sales have beaten expectations.  Both are big and beautiful, with their model names much more prominent than the familiar Hyundai "H" logo.

But what about the question of branding?The company seemed to want it both ways, having the luxury sedans stand as the flagships of their line, and keeping them a bit aloof and the possibilities open to assigning them to a new luxury sub-brand a la Toyota's Lexus. Which direction did they move to, and has it proved a success for the brand?

Hunter Communications Original News Source:
Popular Mechanics

Link to article:
Excerpt: "According to Derek Joyce, product public relations manager for Hyundai, the carmaker has completed its research and decided a separate luxury sub-brand is off the table. 'We've had really good success with Equus and Genesis basically bolstering our whole model lineup—the whole Hyundai lineup—in terms of customer satisfaction,' Joyce says.

Both cars have exceeded Hyundai's expectations. In 2012, Genesis coupe and sedan sales hit 33,973 units, and Equus sales, which started in 2010, reached 3972 in 2012. Joyce said Hyundai had hoped to sell just 2000 to 3000 Equus models per year.

Citing examples such as Toyota and Lexus, Nissan and Infiniti, and Honda and Acura, Joyce says that separate luxury brands can provide special services and showrooms that result in high buyer satisfaction rates, but the core brand doesn't really see any big benefits. For Hyundai, it makes more sense to keep the Equus and Genesis in its own lineup rather than lose its clout and enter a competitive luxury market with an all-new luxury brand.

Yet Hyundai's decision to not spin off a separate luxury sub-brand also presents a dilemma: Should Hyundai work to assimilate the two sedans and any future luxury models into its core lineup, or let them exist as brand outliers? Stand directly in front of a Genesis sedan and there's no way to tell it's a Hyundai (or any brand, for that matter—the wheels and the rear sport Hyundai logos but the nose is completely clean). Standing directly in front of a Hyundai Equus, with its special V-shaped logo, is even more confusing. (You'll find the stylized Hyundai logo only on the rear.)"

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