Is Hyundai the Only Car Company Currently Listening to the Consumer?


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Will my next car be from Hyundai? The odds of a “yes” would not be high if you considered the fact that my last five purchases have been from Toyota. However; I’m impressed with Hyundai’s bold new Assurance program. In short, Hyundai Assurance is a vehicle-return program that allows a car buyer to return their purchase if the buyer becomes unemployed. Sure there are some strings attached to the program, but overall I believe the message will help reduce the anxious feelings that some potential buyers have about the economy this year. Employee pricing – “you pay what we pay” – a strategy that has been copied by most of the other auto makers sounds good on the surface because it suggests a lower price tag. In a like manner, “zero percent financing” (also copied) suggests a lower monthly payment. But if you are going to finance the purchase of a car your biggest fear is probably the thought of a future “pink slip.” After all, nothing reduces your ability to make a payment quite like unemployment, and the U.S. consumer has definitely been voicing that concern.

Hyundai used the Super Bowl to roll out their Assurance message and it’s one of the few Super Bowl commercials I actually remember. In my opinion the program and message is a bold move that has the potential to differentiate their brand even as overall car sales plunge. I also suspect that other car manufacturers are likely to follow Hyundai’s lead on this strategy.

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What is the economic impact and potential risk if thousands of cars get returned? I don’t know, I’m not a risk manager. Will this program fix the auto industry? I wouldn’t count on it. But my hat is still off to Hyundai for really taking the time to listen to potential buyers’ most pressing fear – and then building a program that specifically addresses that issue.

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