Hyundai India, which turns 20 this year, is looking to ride on nostalgia to reconnect with consumers. From the launch of ‘family car’ Santro in 1998 that redefined the compact hatchback segment with its tallboy design, to its current portfolio of vehicles, the OEM is looking to transition from a mass brand to a modern, premium one. It recently released a digital film, The Deal with Accent, as part of its integrated marketing campaign Brilliant Moments to celebrate its two decades in India. The four-month long campaign focusses on connecting emotionally with consumers as it culminates with the launch of a new family car — rumoured to be a revamped version of Santro — scheduled to launch in October.
It will be positioned between the Eon and Grand i10. Hyundai’s clear strength has been its design and regular product refreshments, which make it the only significant competition to Maruti Suzuki India (MSIL). One of its game changing products was the i20. “While Swift could not make into the ‘premium’ hatchback segment, Hyundai’s i20 got the first mover advantage with features seen in an entry-level sedan,” says Kaushik Madhavan, VP, mobility (automotive and transportation) practice, Frost & Sullivan.
With 5.5 million customers, the South Korean car maker’s new positioning is visible across its portfolio, communication and dealerships. Between 2018 and 2020, it plans to launch eight new products including an electric SUV in 2019 and a sub-four metre SUV — a segment it was not present in thus far. According to experts, the new ‘modern premium’ positioning has also to do with the entry of its sister brand Kia, globally known for entry-level cars (hatchbacks). Furthermore, the focus is on attracting the attention of digitally-savvy millennials with communication and an overhaul of dealerships. “We want to cater to connected consumers with offerings like wireless charger, workshop automation and digital sales outlets.
The focus is on product and experience, CRM and analytics, and digitalisation to leverage big data,” informs Puneet Anand, senior GM and group head — marketing, Hyundai India. When it comes to communication, there is a steady shift towards digital. “We have increased our spends on digital marketing in the last four years by almost 10 times with a focus on experiential-led product campaigns,” Anand adds. Hyundai India is also transforming its dealerships by incorporating GDSI (Global Dealership Space Identity) with the promise of a modern, open and digital-centric showroom. Currently, 60% of Hyundai showrooms are GDSI equipped.
The road ahead
Despite two decades of operations, Hyundai India’s market share is 16% in the last two years even as MSIL’s market share increased to more than 50%. While Hyundai has emerged as the only significant competition to MSIL so far, it has suffered due to a limited presence in the entry-level segment. “A majority of MSIL’s growth comes from entry-level models, whereas for Hyundai, the growth is coming from the premium segment, such as i20, Creta and Verna,” observes Amit Kaushik, MD, Urban Science India. However, since India has now become the regional headquarters of Hyundai, Kaushik sees 2018 as a turnaround year for the OEM.
The move is likely to help in terms of faster decision-making, working on capacity constraint and limited presence in the entry-level segment. “The Korean chaebol may not have got its due in its journey of creating several firsts among cars in India. However, it can easily claim to be India’s tallboy among mass cars — having raised aspirations of the common man from the simple Maruti Suzuki 800,” sums up N Chandramouli, CEO, TRA Research.