Hyundai’s New Brand Strategy Challenges Japanese Automakers


Hyundai, South Korea’s largest car manufacturer, knows that US consumers are on tight budgets, so the brand is releasing an aesthetically pleasing line of cars that offer high value at low prices.

Despite an industry-wide downturn, the brand achieved a 6.2% sales increase in November, even while competing against such heavyweights as Honda and Toyota. Analysts suggest that this will enable Hyundai to further pursue new marketing and design schemes in order to improve brand value.[more]

“If you’re just competing on price, and consumers have no emotional connection to the car, they’ll buy the best deal,” says Phil Zak, Hyundai’s head of US design.

Hyundai first created a new design concept called “fluidic sculpture” more than three years ago. The brand’s goal is to entice consumers with the speed and sexiness of luxury European models. For example, Hyundai’s popular Sonata style was redesigned to be wider, longer, and lower to the ground.

“The basic idea is a car that looks like a premium car, but not at a premium price,” says Zak. “We’re looking to pull people out of Camrys and Accords and give them something different.”

The Hyundai Genesis, a competitor to premium sedans and a product of the new design strategy, has given the company a boost in sales. But in order to justify a higher price and take customers away from established Japanese auto brands, Hyundai must continue to offer American drivers top-notch quality and contemporary design.


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