Genesis experiment forges ahead

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Building a new luxury automotive brand takes guts, skill, and determination. Despite the daunting task, Genesis is attempting the feat.

The all-new global premium brand is gearing up to go head-to-head against luxury competitors such as BMW, Mercedes-Benz, and Audi. The budding brand, a division of South Korea’s Hyundai Motor Group, launched as a standalone marque in 2015 and hasn’t looked back.

With no history or legacy, it isn’t discouraging Manfred Fitzgerald, Senior VP, Genesis, from taking on the competition. “Everybody says you need a history or a legacy. We’re establishing that. We have a wide canvas right now so we are making history and that gives us a lot of freedom. That puts us in a good space because we don’t have any kind of legacy. It is up to us to form and shape this brand and create what we have in mind, which is something bespoke, different, and resonates with the people,” says the former Lamborghini executive during Monterey Car Week in California.

Peter Schreyer, Hyundai Motor Group’s chief designer, isn’t worried either. “Look at Audi, for example. Audi was not a luxury brand in the 1980s. It was not that good. It took time, but they followed their one belief and it worked in the end. This is what we need to do with Genesis as well. But we cannot take 30 years like they did. We need to follow a strong identity and judge the design from one product to the next because then you can create trust in the customer.”

Following in the footsteps of Elon Musk and Tesla, Genesis opened its first Canadian retail boutique store on Toronto’s trendy Queen Street East in May 2017. “What Tesla got right is looking at the consumer and consumer behaviour. The automotive industry still has a lot of lessons to learn about what the consumer is all about today,” says Fitzgerald.

“We, our kids, and the generations in between have all changed their behaviours, their habits and their way of not only consuming, but also of acquisition. For us, as the new kid on the block, it’s more about bringing our brand to the people instead of having them come to us. So it was a pretty logical and natural step to go in high-frequent areas like shopping malls where we have a good brand fit to show what we are and what we’re all about,” he says.

For us, as the new kid on the block, it’s more about bringing our brand to the people instead of having them come to us.

So far, there’s no pushback from dealers in North America. “The dealers, especially in the U.S., are always a part of the equation. In other countries, we will operate without dealers. In our new markets, like China and our entry into Europe, we’ll follow a different model of direct sales. We’ll have flagship stores and direct interaction with our customers without having a dealer in between,” says Fitzgerald.

Creating trust and credibility with the customer is key to building the brand. Genesis’ unique business model consists of all-inclusive pricing, complimentary scheduled maintenance, and a “Genesis at Home” concierge for sales and service so consumers can save time by requesting test drives that come directly to their home or office.

They can even schedule an oil change and have someone pick up their vehicle and deliver a replacement while the servicing takes place. The model is designed to create transparency and make it less stressful for customers.

But Fitzgerald admits more effort is needed to get the message out, especially about the concierge service. “That will take time because it’s a new concept. Once people understand how convenient it is and how much we appreciate their time by saving them time, it will catch on very, very quickly.”

“For us, it is important to establish relationships with the customers built upon trust. We shall not fail in our products. We shall not fail in our services. That is something that is very, very important,” says Fitzgerald.

Three additional retail boutiques and about 30 more stand-alone Genesis facilities are expected to open across Canada between 2017 and 2021.

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