Hyundai plans to boost digital presence in India to tap new age customers

South Korean auto major Hyundai is looking to enhance digital presence in India so that its online channel can function as a key customer acquisition point while running parallel to its existing offline sales network, a top company official said.

The company, which is present in the country through wholly-owned subsidiary Hyundai Motor India Ltd (HMIL), also plans to expand its sales infrastructure in rural areas and small towns which currently account for around 20 per cent of annual sales.

"Currently, the customer instead of visiting a dealership, garners knowledge about the brand from online and websites, influencers. So, probably in the future there will be some evolution of new sales channel in terms of digitisation. It is a very unique situation," Hyundai Motor India Ltd (HMIL) Managing Director and CEO SS Kim told PTI in an interview.

As an original equipment manufacturer (OEM), the company believes that it should work on some solution and make younger generation more comfortable with the Hyundai brand in the country, he added.

While insisting that the company is not talking about any disruption to the existing dealership model, Kim said, "I am talking about how to align or move ahead together. We are studying that option internally. The existing dealer partners will be very important even in that scenario."

The company, which is the second largest passenger vehicle maker in the country with a market share just below 20 per cent, seeks to have both online and offline sales network working together, thus enhancing its reach even more.

"Our responsibility is that if the customer wants to see and experience our vehicle, it is our responsibility to make that happen so we need physical dealerships. At the same time we are thinking about more digitalised, more online focus, it will be kind of a parallel to the existing offline sales model," Kim noted.

In automotive business, even if customer gathers some information online, at some later stage he wants to visit the dealership to touch and feel the product, he added.

"So for that reason we need offline presence. So what we are looking at is some kind of collaboration between online and offline," Kim said.

HMIL currently has 502 dealerships and about 475 rural sales outlets across the country. Having established itself firmly in the urban areas, the company now aims to expand its reach in the small towns and rural areas.

"We are now focusing on rural sales..there is immense growth potential in these markets," Kim said.

To expand its reach, the company is undertaking various initiatives like organising marketing activities in rural areas, participating in rural fairs, undertaking certain CSR programmes in villages and interacting with local financiers. HMIL is also augmenting the number of its rural sales outlets.

Besides, if any of such outlets is doing significant volumes, the company has parameters to get it upgraded to a tier II sales outlet, Kim said.

When asked about company's plans for enhancing market share in the domestic passenger vehicle segment, he said that HMIL does not seek volumes, but instead focuses on customer satisfaction.

"Maybe, if we are successful in this strategy, market share will automatically follow," Kim added.

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