LOS ANGELES — For many automakers, the 2008 recession was a desperate time that called for desperate, brand-sacrificing measures. For Hyundai, it was an opportunity to project a new image built around solidarity with the American consumer rather than boring bargain-priced products.
With the new Shopper Assurance program announced last week, Hyundai is returning to that consumer-focused formula, seeking a fresh way to boost lagging sales, recapture some of the marketing glow that powered its rapid growth in the late 2000s, and distinguish itself from rivals with bigger marketing budgets and better product portfolios.
The individual elements of Shopper Assurance — transparent pricing, flexible test drives, online transaction processing and a three-day money-back guarantee — aren't new ideas. They are a mix of past marketing gimmicks from other automakers and services offered by dealership groups and startups.
But given its success with similar shopper-friendly initiatives in the past — the first Assurance program in 2009 offered an easy return policy for buyers who lost their jobs — Hyundai saw an opening to be the first manufacturer to roll the four components into a single program.
"I said, why don't we just put a nice marketing bow on it, call it 'something assurance' and get credit for this before any other new car brand does?" Hyundai Motor America Chief Marketing Officer Dean Evans told Automotive News ahead of last week's announcement.