Kia shifts marketing focus to boost retention

Kia is increasing its focus on retention as it looks to build relationships with its customers and boost engagement and loyalty, according to UK marketing director Mark Hopkins.

Video: Kia’s latest marketing campaign promotes its Reevoo customer review platform

He said the car maker has previously focused its marketing on customer acquisition and, while this remains a priority as it looks to build brand awareness, it now sees new opportunities in communicating with customers to boost retention.

Hopkins said he is hoping to establish a “longer term engagement plan” that will turn its website into more of a loyalty platform and help to boost sales not just of new cars, but also its after care and service plans. He admitted that while all new customers are given a welcome pack and offered access to a MyKia portal on its website, it “could do more” to communicate with customers beyond information on car launches.

Marketing Week speaks to Hopkins, in his first interview since joining Kia at the end of last year, about the marketing opportunities for the car marque, its loyalty plans and how its uses sponsorships to build brand awareness.

Kia’s UK marketing director Mark Hopkins

Marketing Week (MW): What are the marketing opportunities for Kia at the moment?

Mark Hopkins (MH): Kia is still the new kid on the block so there is plenty of opportunity in driving spontaneous and assisted awareness and using product launches and programmes such as the World Cup sponsorship to activate that. We are investing at an above-the-line level to make sure people understand Kia, what we stand for and what we have in our portfolio.

The opportunity now is to add a layer of equity around the strength of our product offering. The mantra for Kia is making technology accessible to people and mixing that with strong levels of design aesthetics and drivability.

Now we have started to establish ourselves it’s also about retaining customers with a lot of focus on a longer-term CRM and content strategy to ensure that we’re continually engaging with our customers.

MW: How do you plan to do that?

MH: In the past we have focused more on CRM and what’s new rather than the brand having a solid relationship with our customers and prospects. It is very much about designing that and putting it in the market.

The opportunity is there to establish relationships through the website. If I’m ruthlessly honest it could be much more of a platform for a relationship. Having just come into the brand that is very much something I am going to be focused on. We have established the opportunity to have that loyalty relationship but we are hoping to do much more.

MW: What role do sponsorships play for Kia?

MH: Any large landmark or sports platform that we can associate ourselves with is a huge opportunity. Demographically the sponsorship of the Kia Oval has been a good match and we have been able to build on the positivity of the relationship with the Oval, which has an affectionate place in people’s heart.

We 100 per cent [want to do more sports sponsorship]. Kia globally is a brand that because it wants to be seen as young and vibrant has developed a strong association with sport. It’s about finding the right partnership opportunities to amplify the brand and its values and it’s also a great way to engage with our customers through content.

MW: What effect has the integration of the Reevoo customer review platform on the Kia website had on the brand?

MH: It has been enormously successful. The opportunity to have customers speak on your behalf is something that consumers really engage with. The fact we have this Trip Advisor-esque community saying what they think of the models and giving a robust and honest opinion gives people peace of mind. It diminishes the risk in decision-making.

We now want to drive Reevoo into areas beyond the physical product. The car market tends to focus on cars but what you are offering as a brand is much more than the physical car, it’s the insurance and after sales care. That is something we can start to amplify through Reevoo, the strength of the product offering and the customer experience throughout the dealer relationship.

MW: With the UK car market seeing sales growth last year, what opportunity does this offer car marketers?

MH: The UK consumer has always had a strong relationship with the car so it’s a great opportunity for car brands to make sure they have a stamp in the marketplace so people can buy into the values they are offering.

Because of the cost of a car to the average household there are a number of areas that people will consider. It isn’t just the original purchase price it’s also about the retained value of that vehicle, the opportunity from finance plans, the running costs. The responsibility from car brands is to lay down the facts as transparently as they can to help customers make that decision.

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