Genesis Motors shifts marketing into high gear

The Hyundai-owned, digital-first luxury brand aims to drive more sales by talking about what sets its cars apart.
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This story originally appeared in the March/April 2019 issue of strategy.

It can be an uphill battle establishing status in a category that’s as obsessed with legacy as luxury auto.

Since launching in 2016 – without a dealer network – Genesis Motors has focused on building a disruptive brand to compete against heritage players. But now the Hyundai-owned co. is looking to become more product-led as it prepares to face competition in new models, with the impending launch of crossover SUVs.

Genesis buyers go online to customize their cars, which are then delivered to their home for test-drives and picked up for scheduled maintenance after purchase. That experience is unique, so Richard Trevisan, director of brand for Genesis, says explaining it was a major focus of its initial messaging – promoting price transparency and home delivery convenience as key values.

“We’ll continue to build brand awareness, but we need drivers to want to test drive the vehicle. It is a brand message, but we’re making the product the hero,” says Trevisan.

That shift toward product can be seen on Genesis’ digital projection screen inside Pearson Airport. Installed in December, the projection currently focuses on home delivery, but Trevisan says it will soon change to talk more about “the pleasure of the drive.”

What’s more, auto insiders have been piling accolades onto Genesis’ vehicles, as they pick up prestigious titles such as North American Car and Truck of the Year. Those are bona fides that Trevison plans to bring to a wider audience.

“We’ve educated people about what makes the brand different – now we have to inform them about what sets the vehicles apart,” Trevisan says, referring to its bigger focus on engineering and safety.

Last year alone, Genesis sold 1,441 cars in Canada – up from 525 the year before. It’s hoping to keep the momentum going, with plans to triple its boutique retail footprint to 30 by 2021.