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Hyundai Closing In On Honda As Their Brand Value Rises

Hyundai Motor Corp. surprised everyone this year by making the biggest increase in automotive brand value and recognition. Hyundai for the first time ever beat such marques as Porsche, Lexus, and Nissan. Honda and Toyota are now forced to take Hyundai more seriously as it is now closing in on them at a rapid pace. According to J.D. Power and Associates, Hyundai has one of the highest consumer satisfaction ratings of all vehicle manufacturers and its brand value has greatly increases after the introduction of their hot 2006 model lineup.

According to the 2006 Best Global Brands survey Hyundai Motor Company has emerged as one of the worlds leading brands with stellar levels of customer satisfaction that rival the best in the industry. Brandon Yea, Hyundai’s vice president for branding strategy, states “Hyundai represents solid quality and representation at every level now as we have everything from the low end to our new entry into luxury sedans with the Alzerra.” Hyundai is now being seen as a serious player in the automotive industry. While other automakers are worried about profits (GM and Chrysler), Hyundai is thinking about how much more market share it will take this year. The Alzerra was targeted at the Acura and Lexus luxury car markets and has shown great promise so far.

Apparently Hyundai has taken a page from Walmart’s founder Sam Walton – price yourself as aggressive as possible while providing what your customers want and need. Hyundai has out priced their competition and now sits poised to become, perhaps, the major automotive player similar to what Walmart did with its retail stores. According to the Harvard Business Review, Hyundai has the perfect business model and will be the automotive manufacturer to beat in the coming years. Large automotive dealership chains like Hendrick Automotive Group and Sonic are adding Hyundai dealerships as fast as they can be built.

Hyundai isn’t sitting on its laurels with the good news, however. They are investing heavily in research and product development. They are also planning and designing more competitive models. “We have found great success in every product line we have been involved in and will continue to add to this. Our philosophy is similar to MDWholesale.com, one of our business partners – To provide the best value at the best price for our customers,” stated Yea. GM and Chrysler will learn a lot about the car business from Hyundai, they don’t have a choice.

Benefits of Mobile Website for an Automotive Business

The present period of mobile revolution provides an opportunity for businesses to capitalize on the mobile marketing strategies. According to comScore, nearly 73 million Americans accessed Internet through their smartphones in 2010. The rise of smartphone usage for accessing Internet has made mobile web presence a competitive necessity for every business.

When it comes to automotive businesses, mobile websites aid greatly in improving business as automobiles are widely searched products over mobile Internet. Moreover, due to the easy access of mobile Internet, cell phone users also use it to find out nearest auto dealerships in their area.

This article discusses about the benefits of creating a mobile website for your auto business.

Mobile web usage for auto content: Statistics show that the growth of mobile Internet usage is robust. A significant number of people are looking for automobile related content on their mobile phones. According to ‘comScore/Millennial Media Mobile Automotive Study – 2011′, more than one in five (21 percent) mobile users in U.S. access auto content almost every day.

Mobile websites are easy to develop: Mobile specific version of websites can be developed easily. You need not create a new website for mobile display – you can simply modify your normal desktop website to suit the mobile browsers. You can even make use of readymade templates to develop a website as per your needs. But remember, when it comes to creating a mobile website for your business, it is better to approach a reputed marketing agency which offers mobile website development services specifically for automotive businesses.

Can reach wider audience: The increase in usage of smartphones and tablets, has also made a multi-faceted web presence reach wider audience. Recently, research firm IDC forecasted that there will be more mobile web users than PC web users in US by 2015. This clearly states that there are high chances for your mobile website to connect with large population and generate huge traffic. Especially, when a customer is looking for local information, he is most likely to access the mobile Internet and get the information. Hence, they prove to be much effective in getting customers for the business.

Goal specific content makes the search easy for the user: Due to the less screen size and the need for easy loading of the pages, the content provided in the mobile website is limited to only key information of a particular vehicle. This specific product-focused content makes the website highly optimized for the automotive searches. Hence, when user is looking for particular information of a vehicle, your website appears first in the search results due to the exact match of the key words in your website content with the search term. Also, optimizing your website for local search makes your website appear first in the local searches. Hence, mobile websites can make the search easier and also improve your automotive brand visibility.

Differentiates you from competitors: A mobile website of your auto business gives you a competitive advantage over your competitors in the market. It also enhances your business reputation. A mobile website helps you stand out of the crowd; presents a positive and contemporary brand image of your business in the market.

With increasing number of mobile users, mobile websites can make your business reach a large section of people. Therefore, it is necessary to create a mobile website for your business and enjoy all the above said benefits.

Used Bentley – The Legendary Automotive Brand

Unfortunately I am not lucky enough to own a Bentley. I am not even lucky enough to own a used Bentley. If I am being honest with you, I am not actually lucky enough to own anything other than a slightly battered Vauxhall Corsa. Whilst this may be a good car, it is practically non-existent alongside the might of the legendary Bentley car brand.

I have, however, been lucky enough to both drive and be driven in the luxury of a Bentley – in fact, the luxury of two Bentleys. Nope, I am not absurdly rich or successful – but I was given a ticket for a day driving beautiful Bentleys to see just what they felt like. It was, I have to say, one of the best Birthday presents I have ever been given, and I thought I would share the experience with you here. This is part to make you insanely jealous, and in part to share just how special these historical and traditional cars actually are!

So, what did I drive? My first car, in the morning, was one of Bentley’s huge behemoths, monstrous creatures with insanely huge engines and enough leather spread around inside to have felled an entire heard of cows. It was a big one, but a fun one – the well known and well loved Bentley Azure T. I felt like I was sat in the world’s longest car, an effect that I am sure was enhanced by the fact that my car is quite so tiny!

As I drove this baby, I was impressed by how smooth the ride was – and how nice the seats felt. Considering that the Azure was essentially a used Bentley, you would never have guessed that anyone else had ever had the pleasure of driving it – which has something to say for the cleaning crew that look after the centre’s supercars! As I swung it gracefully around the tarmac, I was also struck by the fact that despite the obscene 6 ¾ litre engine, this car didn’t roar, but purred instead a deep smooth rumble, surely a sign of great workmanship.

Although this first drive was wonderful, after lunch I decided that something a little sportier was on the cards. After all, I will probably never have enough money to own one of these wonderful cars, and I wanted to take advantage of the situation whilst I still could. It isn’t everyday one gets to drive a Used Bentley! The Continental Supersports that I picked was interesting, because despite having a distinctly Bentley styled grille, this was undeniably modern – more so since mine was a glistening bright white!

This was my favourite drive, maybe because it felt a little wilder, like a horse pulling at the reigns. I think the W12 power unit really did it, although all I was really paying attention to as I drove it around the circuit was the acceleration, which was fast, and the steering which felt light as a feather for such a massive car. Again, I loved it!

The Digital IQ of Prestige Brands in China

An exclusive report from L2 and Labbrand

The massive potential for retail businesses in China is no surprise to anyone-least of all prestige brands. After years of annual double-digit growth, China’s booming economy has left tens of millions of consumers seeking new ways to spend their disposable income. In 2009, China became the world’s second largest luxury market behind Japan, surpassing the United States.

Even though these trends were recognizable at least 20 years ago, many prestige brands are still playing catch-up in this diverse and rapidly changing marketplace. With 384 million internet users-more than the U.S. and Japan combined-much of the competition for customers and brand loyalty will play out online. The investment prestige brands make in their own digital competence could be a deciding factor in their ability to survive and thrive in China, and is likely to become increasingly important as the market matures.

What is Digital IQ and How is it Measured?

In July of 2010, L2, a think tank for prestige brands, partnered with Labbrand to measure and rank the digital competence of one hundred prestige brands in China[1]. The measurement methodology, “Digital IQ,” gives each brand a combined score based on website translation, functionality and content, search engine optimization (SEO), social media performance, and digital marketing efforts

Digital IQ Ranking: China

A Closer Look at the Numbers

These rankings reveal several interesting trends and correlations with other available metrics. For example, the eight fashion brands measured show a strong positive correlation (0.72) between Digital IQ and brand value as reported in BusinessWeek’s annual 100 Best Global Brands report[2]. For the six automotive brands measured in both studies, the correlation is also strongly positive, at 0.61. These correlations do not necessarily mean that increasing Digital IQ guarantees an enhanced brand value. Nevertheless, the strength of these correlations suggests that the relationship between brand value and Digital IQ is not arbitrary. It is possible that valuable brands are more likely to have higher brand awareness, and therefore enjoy higher returns on the same or smaller investments in digital. Alternatively, valuable brands may be more likely to have higher marketing budgets and invest more heavily in digital media.

Prestige brands with the highest Digital IQ scores are breaking away from the pack. In mature markets, measurements of digital competence show prestige brands tightly bunched together-

leaders do not achieve significant separation from brands with average Digital IQ scores. But in China, digital Geniuses are not just in the lead-they’re winning big. For example, the five brands in the Genius category boast a mean Digital IQ more than 25 points higher than that of the next five brands. In comparison, brands ranked six through ten show a mean difference of only 13.2 points compared to those ranked eleven through fifteen. Digital leaders start “breaking away” at an inflection point around Digital IQ 120. Brands at the bottom end of the ranking demonstrate a similar but opposite effect-they lag significantly behind brands with average Digital IQ scores.

Fifty-nine percent of the luxury brands in the study of Digital IQ in China were also measured in a separate study of the Digital IQ of luxury brands in the U.S., dated September 2009. Brands measured in both indices demonstrated a correlation of 0.58 between their Chinese Digital IQ and their U.S. Digital IQ, suggesting that digital competence in one market can be leveraged in another. Beauty brands Lancme, Clarins, and Este Lauder show the greatest positive disparity between Chinese and U.S. Digital IQ. This suggests their recognition of the opportunity to build brands in China through digital media. Meanwhile, champagne brands Veuve Clicquot, Mot & Chandon, and Dom Prignon demonstrate the largest negative disparity-none of them support a Chinese language version of their brand site. Negative disparities may speak to inability or carelessness when translating digital competence from West to East.

Missed Opportunities and Winning Strategies

Most prestige brands earning high Digital IQ scores in China share at least two attributes: local relevance and availability across a broad range of media.

Local relevance stems partly from familiarity with Chinese sites like Baidu, Kaixin, and Youku, which can be loosely compared to Google, Facebook, and YouTube, respectively. But brands doing business in China must recognize that for Western sites and their Chinese counterparts, different strategies are required; simply translating site content is often ineffective.

While homegrown search engine Baidu boasts 62 percent market share in China[3], only 39 percent of measured prestige brands come up first in its organic results when searching by English brand name. Meanwhile, 94 percent of brand sites came up first on Google.cn (prior to its departure from China) when using English names. When searching with Chinese names, approximately 30 percent of brand sites are not among the top three search results on either search engine. This indicates the difficulty of brand name translation for many multinational brands. These numbers suggest that many brands approach search visibility with a Google-centric mentality that fails to recognize the Baidu algorithm and other local nuances.

One way brands can enhance SEO is by creating more opportunities for consumer interaction through a combination of social network sites (SNS), microsites, bulletin-board systems (BBS) and e-commerce and mobile websites.

Although many prestige brands are eliciting thousands of user-generated comments, video uploads, blog posts, and photos on popular SNS like RenRen, Qzone, Kaixin001, and YouKu, very few are interacting directly with consumers on these sites. As consumers are increasingly expecting brand communications to be interactive, rather than one-way broadcasts, digitally savvy brands that are beginning to engage directly with users on SNS platforms stand to gain an edge. Mercedes-Benz, Audi, and BMW host contests on RenRen, while Dior has a page on Qzone. Digital Genius Lancme boasts an official group on Kaixin001 with more than 250,000 members. Johnnie Walker also hosts a group on the platform.

Four of the brands in the study have invested in branded online communities. Digital Genius Lancme launched an online community called Rose Beauty in 2006 and has four million subscribers. Este Lauder and Clarins also host branded beauty communities. BMW has created a community for the estimated 150,000 BMW drivers in China through its MyBMWClub.cn site. Meanwhile, Audi, Mercedes-Benz, and Porsche have created simple-interface BBS to help facilitate discussions with avid fans. Although the appropriateness of microsites as a means of online consumer interaction is debatable, efforts from these brands demonstrate a heightened commitment to the Chinese marketplace.

On average, brands that embrace e-commerce boast Digital IQ scores 50 points higher than brands that do not sell online. The size of the e-commerce market in China may have quadrupled from 2006 to 2009[4], but only ten of the 100 prestige brands in the study offer online transactions. The Beauty & Skincare category leads with six of 13 brands selling online. Many prestige brands opt against e-commerce for fear it will reflect poorly on the brand’s premium status and diminish control over the sales experience. However, as fashion brand and China first-mover Ports 1961 is the only foreign brand outside of the Beauty category to sell online, making e-commerce available would be a clear point of differentiation within many prestige categories.

In addition to website enhancements, SEO, and SNS, it is imperative for luxury brands to develop a mobile strategy. There are an estimated 745 million mobile phone subscribers in China[5], and more than one quarter of mobile users access the internet through their phones[6]. China has considerably lower in-home internet penetration than most developed nations, and many Chinese consumers move directly from no internet to mobile internet. Yet, only 42 percent of the measured brands have mobile-enabled sites. Hong Kong brand Shanghai Tang is one of the first luxury brands to incorporate a Chinese language iPhone application.

Conclusion

While at least rudimentary digital competence is essential for prestige brands operating in China, specific digital strategies should be customized based on a brand’s vision and personality, opportunities and positioning, rather than a “check box” approach. As with other brand communication and media, digital strategy should be informed by comprehensive and up-to-date market research, strengthened by sound analysis and concrete brand positioning, and executed with distinctive and compelling creative work. Ultimately, brands with a deeper understanding of their Chinese customers, local competition, and familiarity with their own reputation and strengths will fare better, both online and off.

[1]“L2 Digital IQ Index: China”. Scott Galloway &, Doug Guthrie, June 16, 2009.

[2]“100 Best Global Brands”, BusinessWeek, September 2009

[3]“China Online”, eMarketer, December 2010

[4]iResearch, February 2009

[5]Ministry of the Information Industry, People’s Republic of China, August 2009

[6]“Global Device Insight Report”, Nielsen, October 2009