Quality in the spotlight
THE days of dollar deals in Kia showrooms are on the way out. The push is to put the cars in the spotlight and the price-first approach is heading to the edge of the picture.
Kia now believes it needs to turn its cars into heroes, not just focus on luring buyers with sweet deals that have to be heavily subsidised and renewed each month.
“The truth is that most Australians don’t know much about Kia,” says new Kia Motors chief executive Damien Meredith.
“We’ve stopped all retail advertising on television and we’re focusing on product.
“The value will always be there. We will still be competing ... but I think people have to understand that we make and engineer great products.
“We need to get the message out about the quality of the product and the design, and using Graeme Gambold to develop the cars for Australia.”
This is familiar stuff at Carsguide, as we have long lauded the expertise and Australia-first focus of Gambold. The chassis-tuning guru’s efforts have helped Kia step out of the considerable shadow cast by “big brother” Hyundai, as it also employed solid engineering and goodlooking bodywork.
Meredith says concentrating on the bottom line in showrooms, instead of the rising strengths of the cars, has been counterproductive for Kia.
“I don’t think we’ve communicated it correctly. It’s very difficult to get that message through when you’re on sale all the time. I think we have to change our direction,” he says.
“We have increased the marketing spend and it will be directed towards product.
“What we want to do is get Australians to understand more about what Kia does with its product, its engineering and its design.”
Kia is underperforming in Australia this year, at least compared with Hyundai, despite a 0.2 per cent increase in sales through the first half of 2014 in an overall market that’s down 2.4 per cent.
The objective is to deliver at least 33,000 cars for the year, which will still leave Kia at less than 4 per cent of overall newcar sales.
“By end of the year we’d like to be at 35,000, but 33,000-plus is the reality. We don’t want to be going up one month and down the next. We want it nice and consistent.”
Meredith says the focus for this month is on the Proceed and Sportage and, although he is being cagey, the new push is likely to switch to the Cerato in August.
“We’re looking for sustained growth over time. And you can’t do that just by selling on price.”
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