If you review market share among import brands you probably will notice Hyundai’s numbers are climbing. This recession has taught a lot of people in our industry not only how to survive but how to steal market share from others. Hyundai is no exception and has done a very admirable job at this in 2009.
In talking with our import clients, it seems Toyota dealers are being told by Toyota Motor Sales and its Distributors to adjust their image and financial programs to be more like Honda. Toyota is lusting after the lease programs and penetration that has kept Honda owners returning to the new car buying cycle every 36-48 months. Toyota is lessening its dealer cash on some models and driving lease payments and re-teaching its dealers about lease penetration. Toyota as a whole has definitely been watching Honda, and with this turn in the market, now wants what its competitor has.
Honda dealers, however, are different. This turn in the market left many Honda dealers light on inventory, especially after “Cash for Clunkers.” Honda dealers are now restocking their lots at what for them generally is a slow time of year (prior to their year-end clearance) and now Honda dealers are wanting what Toyota dealers have always had and that is dealer cash / and big rebate programs. Honda dealers want to be more competitive price wise against Camry & Corolla and think they need money on the hood to be able to compete It seems to me that Honda dealers want everything Toyota dealer have always had except for Scion and a full size pickup truck.
Nissan dealers are not as envious but still have points of contention. Most Nissan dealers have wrapped their mind around the fact that Titan is not going to be a volume leader, so they are ordering and selling what they can – holding excellent gross on the hard to find, not plentiful units. Nissan dealers seem to have decent inventory levels and ‘09 product left that can be price advertised aggressively. Nissan has a weaker performer in Sentra (and no markup in Cube and Versa), so it relies on Altima, Murano, Rogue and Maxima for its volume and gross. Nissan wants a better van product and better SUV brands like Toyota has.
So that brings us to Hyundai – with its import competition all chasing after what the other has, Hyundai has focused solely on the Hyundai Advantage this year and adding additional rebates on top of the Government ‘Cash for Clunker’ money. Hyundai dealers have looked more at their brand and their marketing, without as much regard for others, and it clearly has made a positive impact. Hyundai doesn’t compete in trucks and not really the SUV segment (Santa Fe just never appears to dent its Toyota, Nissan and Honda counterparts). Hyundai has solely worked its advertising plan with the premise of what is best for Hyundai. The programs it has run that surely led to this award are very different and do not slant its competitors in quite the negative light. Hyundai has focused on looking out for what is best for Hyundai and spent millions of dollars to tell a compelling story.
All advertising, especially automotive is subjective to a persons thoughts and opinions. Some people claim Hondas ads are too boring, Nissans are too loud and bold, Toyotas are always selling the deal – but the proof is in the pudding – or in this case the Marketer of the Year Award.
John Paul Strong
John Paul Strong combines his two decades of automotive marketing experience with a team of more than 140 professionals as owner and CEO of Strong Automotive.