LOS ANGELES - Hyundai's new U.S. marketing chief wants the brand to make stronger pitches about its improved quality, design and engineering to strike a more emotional chord with buyers who traditionally shopped the brand on price and value.
"We have a lot of work to do to create deeper, richer stories," said Steve Shannon, the former GM marketing executive hired as Hyundai Motor America's vice president of marketing in April.
Consumers frequently put Hyundai on their shopping list because of the brand's practical attributes - value, warranty and fuel economy, Shannon said.
Hyundai now wants to attract shoppers on a more emotional level, Shannon said at the Automotive News Marketing Seminar held Tuesday in Los Angeles.
For example, marketing and advertising efforts touting Hyundai's engineering abilities may feature new technology like its upcoming infotainment system BlueLink, or a new 5.0-liter V-8 engine and eight-speed automatic transmission to debut on the 2012 Hyundai Genesis sedan, Shannon said.
Hyundai - shedding some of its long-time appeal to price-sensitive consumers – has expanded its U.S. lineup in recent years to include luxury sport sedans such as the Genesis and Equus.
The automaker is also benefiting from well-received styling moves and improved quality scores by third parties such as J.D. Power and Associates and Consumer Reports.
Shannon has been leading Hyundai's U.S. marketing efforts for just 5 weeks now and has already left an imprint.
Hyundai began a program this month that guarantees the trade-in value of models after two years of ownership, if the customer trades for a new Hyundai.
The program is designed to remove a lingering consumer concern about Hyundai resale values and comes as the brand begins marketing models such as the Equus, a $60,000 sedan designed to compete with the Lexus LS and Mercedes-Benz S-class.
The brand's Hyundai Assurance program crafted under former marketing boss Joel Ewanick made waves when it was debuted in 2009 during the downturn when unemployment soared and industry sales tanked.
Under the program, buyers could return a car without penalty or loss of creditworthiness if they lost their job or declared bankruptcy within a year of purchase.
Hyundai has sold 204,374 vehicles through April, up 31 percent from the same period in 2010, putting the automaker on pace to set another U.S. sales record.