November 17, 2009
2009 has been a banner year for Hyundai. In spite of the worst market conditions of the past quarter century, Hyundai has grown volume, profitability, and market share by an outstanding 1.2 percentage points. In an industry where every tenth of a point is hotly contested, this is a heroic result. Perhaps most impressively, the company is changing the perception of the brand, laying the foundation for continued growth.
Not surprisingly, both BrandWeek and Advertisng Age have recognized Hyundai as the 2009 Marketer of the Year. I can't think of a more deserving victor or a better company to take a look at for some lessons that can be learned from their performance.
First, they have terrific product. Genesis was named North American Car of the Year and was recognized by J.D. Power and Associates as the most appealing midsize premium car. The new Genesis Coupe has received rave reviews and has established new performance standards for the brand. Accent, Elantra, Sonata, Santa Fe, and Veracruz are all excellent products. Third party accolades have been exceptional, providing added credibility and giving the company a solid boost through public relations. A quick look at HyundaiMomentum.com reveals all of the positive news, reviews and accolades Hyundai has received — and as you'll notice, they are plentiful. This year, Hyundai achieved the highest ranking for a non-premium nameplate in the prestigious J.D. Power Initial Quality Study.
Second, they price competitively and back their product with one of the longest and most comprehensive warranties in the industry. They offer their customers great value and the confidence that they'll stand behind the integrity of their products and services.
Third, they have been aggressive, opportunistic, and strategic in their media planning. When competitors backed off, Hyundai responded quickly to secure important properties like the Oscars, Super Bowl, and NFL football. They draw big audiences, they are live and viewed live, and they're where important brands can make news. They complimented their broadcast presence with a consistent and aggressive focus on auto enthusiasts and in-market shoppers. They were determined to tell their story to people who influence purchase decisions and to people who were actually in-market, shopping for a new car. According to GfK research, the three most important sources of information when shopping for a car are online auto shopping sites, automotive enthusiasts, and auto magazines. Hyundai paid attention to the research and acted accordingly.
Finally and most importantly, Hyundai executives spoke directly to consumers to better understand their perspectives, hopes, and apprehensions during the recession. They listened and invested in building product and service enhancements that addressed consumer fears and made Hyundai a safe, confident purchase. Instead of relying on even bigger discounts, Hyundai announced the Hyundai Assurance Plan. They changed the nature of the dialogue. They found blue water and assumed the mantel of industry leadership.
Hyundai has developed the right messages: We build great products, back them with America's Best Warranty, and will protect you in the event you lose your job during these tough times. Hyundai has communicated this message to the right audience, making news in the process. And Hyundai has communicated the message at the right time. Kudos for a job well done.