In 1976, Rock and Roll Hall of Famers Fleetwood Mac released “Go Your Own Way”—a mantra that perfectly sums up the bold steps Genesis Motors Canada is now taking.
Since the November launch of Genesis – Hyundai’s luxury brand – it’s started from scratch and taken on every opportunity to chart its own unique selling proposition. Here’s some of the ways it’s standing out.
Genesis’ online shopping experience
Hyundai call it “Genesis at Home,” and it’s a complete modernization of the vehicle purchase system: a start-to-finish online sales shopping experience via the Genesis website, more akin to buying a pair of shoes online than a car from a salesperson. It’s achieved by setting fixed all-inclusive prices with no negotiation, and no need for dealership interaction.
Consumers can book a test drive via email or phone, and a Genesis representative comes to them. The same system applies for getting a trade-in value for your current vehicle, applying for credit and approval, as well as any type of maintenance including oil changes.
“Nobody except Genesis has a full online sales option for the consumer,” said Michael Ricciuto, director, Genesis brand. “The Genesis Motors Canada model may be the most unique offering globally.”
Genesis opens the doors to its first retail pop-up location
An online-only sales model will excite some that may want a fast-pace no-hassle buying process, but that’s not felt by all. Some buyers – traditionalists – still prefer heading to a physical location, seeing all the options, and asking a vehicle specialist questions.
And that’s why part of the planned rollout was for Genesis Motors Canada to have retail storefronts throughout Canada offering consumers the choice of an online or retail shopping experience.
The first of those storefront locations – Genesis Downtown – opened on June 1 on Toronto’s high-traffic Queen Street East. It’s the first of six boutique sales to open this year, with another in Toronto to follow, along with two in Montreal, and solo operations in Quebec City and Vancouver.
In addition, there will be a one-car showroom ‘experience centre’ located in the soon-to-be-renovated domestic departure area at Toronto’s Pearson airport to build brand awareness. By the end of 2021, Genesis Motors Canada plan to have 30 more stand-alone boutiques.
Before its doors opened to the public, Autofocus.ca had a chance to check out Genesis’ pop-up location and talk with Ricciuto over plans and expectations. As we took the tour around the 4,000-square-foot retail space, it was clear this temporary location resembled nothing like a traditional dealership, and had more of an art gallery vibe.
The space is elegant and edgy, with a Genesis logo shining brightly on the wall as you enter. High-quality pictures of Genesis vehicles, its luxury parts, and colour palettes are strategically placed throughout the boutique on grey, concrete walls.
There’s nothing too flashy, simply open space without the need for separated offices. The real art in this gallery are the vehicles themselves, with three Genesis vehicles in the middle of the floor.
The whole experience to be operated by the Downtown Automotive Group is calm and inviting, without any sales pressure tactics. Customers are greeted at the front by a customer relations staff member and offered an authentic coffee from the attached Dark Horse restaurant. At all times, a GXM (Genesis Experience Manager) is at your disposal for any questions or a test drive.
“We are still a young brand—and consumers are still wanting to learn what Genesis is about,” adds Ricciuto. “These new boutiques give us the ability to get people higher up in the purchase funnel by getting consumers into a physical location and talking to a GXM to learn about the brand, a particular car, as well as the services provided.”
In two years time, this pop-up location will close down and head one block away into its new home—part of Downtown Automotive Group’s Autoplex, which will feature six other automakers.
According to Ricciuto, the Genesis Motors’ space will have a classy, non-traditional approach along the lines of this pop-up location. He describes the boutique system as something you would more likely see in Europe, with simply a dedicated floor and drive-through.
“We’re just putting our money into sales, not a 20,000-sq-ft showroom with marble counter tops. We’re placing the money into the customer experience.”
How much time will it take for the brand to take off?
Most new ventures take time to gain exposure, and that doesn’t occur easily in the automotive space. Genesis has an advantage by being Hyundai’s luxury wing in terms of maintenance, retail space, and financial resources, but it wants to go about this new brand without using the “Hyundai” name.
More important than that leg up, though, is the fact Genesis is ahead of the curve, with a unique business model that gives it control over its own inventory, Ricciuto explains, a key advantage it has over other brands.
“Outside of Tesla, all other OEMS have an established dealer franchise system. They’ve signed an agreement that every vehicle needs to be sold through an authorized dealer, and therefore they cannot directly sell to customers.”
The agent – Genesis doesn’t call them dealers – has no inventory to push, as they don’t own it. All of the inventory is centralized by the brand, allowing buyers to customize vehicles as they wish.
For now, there isn’t too much to sell—a G80 mid-size sedan, a G80 Sport model, and G90 full-size sedan, with the 3-Series competitor G70 to arrive in early 2018. However by 2021, its roster is expected to expand to six vehicles.
On many fronts, Genesis Motors Canada is going its own way, and all that’s needed is time to broaden the brand’s exposure and awareness; that extra time will correspond well with its increase in offerings.
And if you’re looking for an edge, Genesis may have that on Tesla, too, with Hyundai service facilities already established to assist customers in need—an area in which Tesla is struggling to establish a network of repair facilities.
Will these new bold ways of business bring success to Genesis or will this eventually lead to many lonely sales days ahead? Only time will tell, but for now Ricciuto and the Genesis brand seem confident that their unique business model has come at the right time and will be sustainable for the long road ahead.