Identify Hyundai MotorÂ’s product-line objectives? Support your answer with relevant examples. Discuss the product-line strategies
pursued by Hyundai Motor to facilitate growth and reposition its brand.
Hyundai Motor’s product-line objectives:
• Line Extension (Line-filling)
According to Gidman (2007), Hyundai Motor focuses on affordable efficiency, and is perceived as a producer of entry-level cars. Although Hyundai Motor’s consumer brand equity has been that of producing entry-level (affordable) cars, it has been “moving up-market steadily in recent years, with models such as the Equus and the Veracruz SUV” (Eisenstein 2008, p33); further extending its product line (line extension) with minivans and sport utility vehicles (SUVs). “Today the company boasts nine models, ranging from the entry-level Accent to the higher-end Veracruz. In between are the compact Elantra; the Santa Fe and Tucson SUVs; the mid-sized Sonata and Azera; the sporty Tiburon; and even a well-received minivan” (Gidman 2007).
As a result of its efforts to gain consumer confidence (e.g. improving quality and assurance to buyers with longer warranties), there has been an increase in both sales and public perception over the last decade: sales of the entry-level Accent increased by 74% in the first quarter (Gidman 2007). In addition, the Santa Fe was named one of the best midsize sport utility vehicles (Consumer Reports 2008).
• Line Extension/Line Stretching (Up-market Stretch)
Despite Hyundai Motor’s success in improving its image from being the “Worst Car Ever Made” to a 72nd ranking in the 2007 Best Global Brand survey, the company still has a perception problem to combat; being perceived as a manufacturer of entry-level cars. Hyundai Motor’s “policy of building the factories first and worrying about sales later”, and aggressive sales target resulted in inventory pile which led “to the sale of its cars to rental fleets - a practice that tends to make brands lose prestige with buyers” This could be seen in the first quarter sales of the Accent (least expensive) increasing by 74%, while the Sonata sedan (more expensive) was down by 30%. (Gidman 2007)
Hence, in “a bid to increase market share and boost its brand image” (Arbor 2008), Hyundai Motor has decided to further extend their product line (line extension) with an up-market stretch into the “highly competitive luxury market” with the Genesis – Hyundai Motor’s first foray into the luxury market (Eisenstein 2008).
With its upscale amenities being comparable to other luxury sedans (Boudette 2008), the “Genesis targets mid-luxury models such as the Lexus GS, Infiniti M. Mercedes-Benz E-Class and BMW 5 Series” (Eisenstein 2008, p33). “Hyundai plans to continue using its most successful weapon - pricing – to gain an advantage” (Eisenstein 2008, p33). According to Joel Ewanick, Hyundai Motor’s senior US marketing executive, the Genesis appeals to consumers who want luxury and prestige at an affordable price (Brandweek 2008). The Genesis also has another purpose – to enhance the Hyundai brand and improve sales for its other higher-end offerings such as the Sonata sedan (Eisenstein 2008). In order to appeal to consumers (customer service) and increase brand equity, Hyundai Motor has decided to create “a special sales process, and is insisting on special training for sales staff at dealers” (Eisenstein 2008, p33) for the distribution of the Genesis; adding (perceived) value for the consumer.
Thus, in an attempt to “break out of its perceived mold of mediocrity” and “change the mindset of the car-buying populace” (facilitate growth) in its latest venture, Hyundai Motor decided to repurpose its brand by “disassociating itself from its former self-imploding-aluminum image and repositioning itself as a premium automobile brand that still offers” affordable and reliable quality vehicles. This can be seen in Hyundai Motor’s ad campaign effort, which uses the theme “Think About It” – appealing to consumer intelligence by providing transparency into the auto industry standards; whereby the Hyundai name is not mentioned. (Gidman 2007)
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