Genesis, despite sales growth, needs brand awareness push, COO Claudia Marquez says


Genesis quintupled U.S. sales in October compared with last year and has filled a trophy case with industry awards over the past five years. But now it needs a big push to raise brand awareness, Claudia Marquez, COO for North America, told Automotive News.

“Growth year-over-year has been outstanding,” said Marquez, just six weeks into the newly created COO job. “Priority No. 1 is that we have to make sure that consumers understand that we have great products. They are outstanding. But we are missing awareness.”

The new GV70 compact crossover won Motor Trend SUV of the year last month. And last week, it was chosen as a utility-vehicle finalist for the North American Car, Truck and Utility Vehicle of the Year Awards.

“We know that SUVs do well, but we’re also doing great with our sedans,” Marquez said. Because Genesis is a growing brand, Hyundai Motor Group has given the newcomer priority for semiconductor chips in order to achieve its business plan for the year, Marquez said.

In the January-to-October period this year, Genesis sold 15,508 of the G70, G80 and G90 sedans and 24,112 of its GV70 and GV80 crossovers in the U.S. Both crossovers were launched within the last year. Next year, Genesis will launch the GV60 EV crossover and the Electrified G80.

But sometimes Genesis still seems like the industry’s “best kept secret,” Marquez said, and that needs to change. The automaker will shift more advertising to television in order to reach a greater audience with its brand message. Digital and experiential marketing will continue, she said.

Marquez was named COO of Genesis Motor North America in late September and reports to Jose Muñoz, CEO of Hyundai Motor North America and global COO of Hyundai Motor Co.

As Marquez took over her new job, the automaker told Automotive News that Mark Del Rosso was leaving his post as CEO of Genesis Motor America after a three-month leave of absence to deal with a personal matter.

Marquez was mostly recently CEO of Hyundai Motor Mexico. Before joining Hyundai in November 2019, Marquez held senior executive positions at Nissan North America, including at the Infiniti brand. Her tenure at Nissan overlapped with Muñoz, who was chairman of Nissan North America.

The public profile of the Genesis brand will also get a boost from the coming inauguration of its first stand-alone dealerships, Marquez said. Currently, Genesis vehicles are sold at Hyundai stores.

The first exclusive Genesis store is set to open in the first quarter of next year, she said.

Genesis expects to have about 150 exclusive dealerships by 2025, Marquez said. The Genesis brand will also have greater differentiation within Hyundai stores that continue to sell the luxury marque.

Another brand-building component, Marquez said, is this month’s opening of Genesis House New York that will showcase the Korean company and Korean culture.

The 46,000-square-foot space in Manhattan’s Meatpacking District includes a restaurant and culture institute, a tea garden, a library and a vehicle showroom for browsing — but not sales.

“We are distinctly Korean, which is an important part of our DNA,” Marquez said.

“What we’re doing there is expressing and showing the values of our brand to the customers so they can feel that.”

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