The Genesis of a Brand

The chief of Hyundai’s fledging high-end brand, Genesis, is confident his cars can thrive in a sector dominated by the likes of Mercedes and Audi.

By Ghaith Madadha

However useful the Genesis model and Centennial full-size luxury saloon have been in raising Hyundai’s brand perception over the last decade, it was only logical that such distinctly up market models would one day require a standalone brand to compete in the luxury segment.

And so the Genesis offshoot was formally founded in late 2015, and both the brand and its flagship G90 model were given their regional launch in Dubai last month.

At the event, the Head of Global Genesis Manfred Fitzgerald, who used to be Lamborghini’s brand and design director, kept tight-lipped about pricing and market share projections. But he did say he was confident that Genesis would be a true competitor in the luxury auto market.

With brand perception and heritage playing such an important role in the luxury segment, how do you plan to position Genesis as a credible alternative to other long-established high-end carmakers?

At first sight you might say that we don’t have a history. But taking a look again, there is a longstanding history. For over 50 years this corporation has been very successful in what they are  still doing today, and the Genesis brand is the next logical step for the Hyundai motor group.

This is the first serious attempt going into the luxury field on a global basis, meaning that the company will have to compete on a global basis with incumbent competitors out there. This means that in terms of product and in terms of brand value, Genesis will have to be at least on par with them. In addition, this is an opportunity for us to bring a new value proposition to the table, and we believe that we can make a fine distinction.

You mentioned value. Does that mean that Genesis will be positioned based on price value?

I think the answer to that is actually very simple. Luxury goods and the luxury segment are all defined by one thing. It’s about creating emotions, and that is what we will be focusing on at each and every touch point for our customers. Let it start with the product, but more than that are all the other touch points. So there will be great customer care.

Is your strategy to convert existing luxury customers, or to foster a new client base migrating to the luxury segment?

I think there is no target customer in that sense. I think anybody who buys into our values, anybody who buys into our product and can relate to us as a brand and as a manufacturer is more than welcome. This won’t come overnight. A brand has to evolve and one has to give the brand time. So, there is no such thing as pushing buttons and believing you’re there. We are more about showing than talking, so we want people and customers to experience our products, and give us a clear verdict. And we believe that we have all the ingredients needed to be a true competitor in that kind of segment.

Which brands or cars have been benchmarked by Genesis and who do you see as your primary competitors, the segment-leading German ‘troika,’ Infiniti and Lexus due to a similar path or background, British luxury brands for their craftsmanship, iconography and brand perception, or Cadillac and Lincoln as re-emerging or resurgent luxury brands?

I think it’s very obvious who we are benchmarking there. As I said previously, if you want to compete in this field, you have to be at least on par with your core competitors.

Where do you see the brand in five or 10 years down the line, or longer, and what is the long-term plan?

I think it would be a major success if we, in three to five years time, are considered as a true competitor in this luxury segment. I think that’s the first goal. Further success to me would be if we could help in establishing ‘Made in Korea’ as a trademark for luxury.

How does the Middle East rank in importance or potential for Genesis? Is Genesis going for the market in the United States primarily or emerging markets, including the Middle East, or perhaps Europe?

I think the Middle East has great significance. The Middle East is known for being a luxury market. They value extraordinary things, and we believe that we have here a playing field to expose what we’re all about.