Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Why Hyundai Should Buy Saturn

So GM is in bankruptcy and it has definitively noted it will be shedding the Saturn brand. Apparently there are up to 16 suitors. I hope one of them is Hyundai.

Hyundai and sister brand, Kia, have long struggled to make a name for themselves in the US market. They have tried to position themselves as the car for the smart buyer - one who understands quality and good value. The problem - consumers don't think that way in spite of all of those consumer reports and meaningless industry accolades. Trusted brands sell cars - sometimes crappy ones. But if your brand doesn't have any real equity or simply holds a terciary role in the mind of consumers - you're sunk.

Despite Hyundai's best efforts, snazzy marketing campaigns and developing some truly spectacular cars which have won countless awards - they still sell fewer cars than many luxury brands without the profit margins to match.

Perhaps it's time to shed the Hyundai brand and help revive a name that actually means something to Americans? The Saturn brand stands for great value, affordable cars for young people who don't want to deal with sleazy car dealers or silly marketing speak. When GM launched Saturn - they asked then agency, Hal Riney, their opionion of the name for their new sedan, the Aura. Hal Riney's response - call the damn thing the Saturn Sedan. Enough with the stupid naming conventions.

This and many other innovations developed a brand with a strong following. While GM has certainly let Saturn slide, Hyundai would be smart to pick this puppy up and truly establish the Koreans as players in the US market.

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