|Hyundai Motor’s sales chief Kwack Jin speaks during a press conference at a gallery in Buam-dong, Seoul, Tuesday. (Hyundai Motor)|
Hyundai Motor, which has gradually been losing customers to foreign brands on its home turf in recent months, on Tuesday unveiled a revamped membership program that aims in part to lure back loyal customers.
The combined domestic market share of Hyundai and its affiliate Kia Motors slid from 83.2 percent in March to 78.3 percent in November.
Despite its strong performance in overseas markets, Hyundai’s domestic car sales fell 11.9 percent to 54,302 vehicles last month from a year ago.
“It is true that a growing number of existing customers are turning to foreign-brand cars. We need to take prompt action to buck the trend,” Hyundai’s sales chief Kwack Jin said at a press meeting in Seoul on Tuesday.
As part of the effort, Hyundai has decided to pour 150 billion won ($140 million) ― almost double the existing budget, worth 80 billion won ― into extending mileage benefits that can be used like cash at the carmaker’s service centers.
Hyundai customers used to earn the same number of membership points for each purchase. But under the new plan, the mileage benefits increase when an existing customer buys a Hyundai car again.
Customers can earn mileage worth up to 2 million won depending on the number of new car purchases, and the points can be shared by family members toward another purchase.
On whether the enhanced mileage benefits were more effective than price cuts in luring customers, Kwack, the Hyundai executive, made it clear that the new program should be considered separately from car prices.
“The program reflects our renewed commitment to Korean customers,” he said.
During the media event, Hyundai also hinted at a drastic shift in its marketing strategy in line with the recent launch of the new Genesis, the carmaker’s flagship luxury sedan.
According to the company, it used to put more resources into marketing top-selling, mass-market models such as the Avante compact or the Sonata sedan.
But the carmaker said it would specify marketing strategies for its current 13 car models and add diesel-powered or high-performance models to spice up its overall lineup.
The company also plans to refurbish its existing 1,424 service centers nationwide by 2016 and its global operations in the coming years.
By Lee Ji-yoon (firstname.lastname@example.org)