BRANDING IRON

COMMENT

TOBY HAGON

Any new brand takes time firstly to be noticed, and, secondly, to be considered a viable secondly, to be considered a viable challenger that people aspire to buying.

And you can multiply that for newcomer luxury brands, which are competing with some of the biggest, most respected names in the car business.

Witness the challenges of Infiniti and Lexus. Each has been around almost 30 years, and each doesn’t have anything like the pull of Mercedes-Benz.

The challenges are numerous. Genesis must define itself as a brand and what it stands for. It has to establish a viable dealer network, get its message out and begin convincing at least some affluent buyers to pass over the established players – which many will have existing relationships with – and take a chance with the largely unknown.

Then there’s the issue of producing cars that people actually want to buy, something that’s not as easy as it sounds.

Hyundai’s long road has already begun, though.

There are already hundreds of Genesis hire cars chauffeuring people all over Australia. While those cars are Hyundais, they’ve given tens of thousands of people an insight into how far Hyundai has come.

Speak to the drivers and many say people are surprised to learn it’s a Hyundai, not an Aston Martin (blame the winged badge). That healthy first step has taken a few years, but the hard work is still ahead – and will be for many decades.

“It’s going to take time,” admits Kate Fabian, former Hyundai Australia marketing executive and the woman now in charge of establishing Genesis in America.

Fabian has studied the ups and downs of other brands, including Lexus and Infiniti. But she says Genesis will focus more on customer service and the ownership experience rather than the metal. “It’s not just about the product; we’re about the experience,” says Fabian. “Unlike a lot of the other luxury brands, including BMW, Mercedes and Audi [where] it’s all about the machine.”

Whether Genesis succeeds longer term will probably depend on the appetite of future management to wear big losses during what is sure to be a long gestation.