Speaking in Melbourne this week, Kia Australia chief operating officer Damien Meredith admitted that Kia "had been on sale for too long in Australia" and it was now time to fix its struggling brand perception.
“The brand at the moment is not in a strong position,” Meredith admitted. “All the studies that we see and feedback that we get from the reports shows that we have got a lot of work to do. My emphasis is that focusing on the product rather than the pricing over a period of time is going to help.
“In regards to where the brand is and where we want to be, we want to lift the brand again in a sustained manner. It's no good being the flavour of the month then 12 months later it's back down again. It’s not an easy thing, brand perception and changing that of.”
Meredith, who came to Kia's from sister company Hyundai, said the friendly rival’s consistent brand building strategy is something Kia is set to follow.
“There’s no question that Hyundai Australia is incredibly consistent with what they’ve done over a period of time and we will be following that line with the product message and general communication. We are going to be a lot more consistent in the market place.”
According to Meredith, the best way for Kia to move forward is via a measured and sustained manner that allows for the product to do the talking and allow the dealers to remain sustainable.
“We are going to focus on quality communication and that’s not to say we won’t mix it hard with retail [sales] when the time comes, at specific times during the year, but we are going to focus on product and make sure we are going to grow the business in a sustained manner. What we have to do is protect the margin for ourselves and the dealer network. It's very important that the dealers have opportunity with our brand to make money, that’s a very important thing we want to do.”
In most global markets where both Hyundai and Kia compete, the split is usually in the bigger company’s favour by 60:40, but in Australia that figure is closer to 75:25 against Kia, something the South Korean brand is keen to change without taking share away from its sister brand.