Wondering about what luxury will look like in the future? Just ask Genesis.
For Mark Del Rosso, CEO of Genesis North America, luxury is personal. A car guy who grew up in his family’s car dealerships in the New York metro area, luxury is more about the experience than bright, expensive, often untouchable objects. For Jeri Yoshizu, executive director of marketing for Genesis North America, the social and cultural crossroads where we find ourselves today — where everyone is an artist, a photographer, a photo editor, a content creator — makes the world a rich place.
These are the ideas that are guiding the journey of Genesis as the automaker carves out a place among luxury stalwarts, tech-driven innovators and legacy brands.
That’s a daunting task in an increasingly cluttered world where getting someone’s attention — never mind keeping your own focus — can be a challenge. But Mark, Jeri and the Genesis team are up for it with a fresh approach and outlook. Designed to build affinity with buyers who are creative, curious, influential and looking for the next era in luxury car ownership, they are building one that centers on the experience more than the badge.
The First Step in the Journey? Bonding with a Younger Luxury Buyer
Genesis burst onto the car scene a few years ago with a fresh approach to luxury that won many awards and accolades. Then, last year, as Genesis prepared to roll out its first and much-awaited GV80 SUV, the company appointed a Mark as its new CEO and charged him with taking the upstart brand to the next level.
After plotting the course, Mark tapped Jeri to lead the brand to its new customer. The two had worked together at Toyota on a project code named, ironically, Genesis; the result was Scion, the youth car brand designed to appeal to elusive and difficult-to-reach young men who ignore most traditional media. From there, Jeri built a path at Toyota before leaving automotive altogether to focus on optimizing her husband’s record label. Mark went on to lead several divisions at Toyota and Lexus before landing as the chief operating officer of Audi of America.
Now, the two are focused on defining what luxury means in our current culture, especially in a pandemic and post-pandemic world where nothing is as it was even a few months ago.
And while some may see this as a challenge, Mark and Jeri see opportunity.
Artist, Creator, Curator: Where Genesis and its Owners Meet
The appeal of Genesis to buyers is “design based,” Jeri said. “Our customer is drawn in by design and art. They are very much into the fine details.”
And ,while yes, they’ll see elegant design ideas on the exterior and interior of Genesis vehicles, “it’s the nuance of how that is projected,” she said. The company is developing partnerships with media including “one around photography, using incredible photographers to shoot the car, target people who have an interest in photography. This ties back to our media buy and our content,” which will focus more on media platforms popular with younger consumers and early adopters who spend less time with legacy media such as the evening news. The goal is to connect beautifully photographed cars to the interest customers have in photography.
Building Customer Relationships by Eliminating Disruption
But the idea of drawing in consumers via a curated aesthetic experience on cutting edge platforms doesn’t stop with media; it continues to the online shopping experience. The team is building a “tier-less experience on line,” Jeri said, so the difference between the manufacturers website and the dealership website will be seamless.” It’s a challenge that buyers have in researching a vehicle; when they are on a manufacturers site and configure the vehicle, the journey can be interrupted by other brands targeting that customer. But with a seamless experience, customers will be more easily able to transition from the manufacturers site to the dealer’s site.
From there, customers can continue the seamless journey with the digital resources that Genesis built over the last few years — tools that came in handy during the pandemic lockdowns that curbed many businesses over the last eight months.
It started with the service valet. “87% of customers utilize this,” Mark said. “We send a loaner vehicle to wherever you want, take your car, service it and deliver it back to you.” This process and other digital communications tools allowed “97% of Genesis dealers to have a digital retail solutions in place, and more and more [dealers] are selling cars this way,” he said.
That led to the Genesis concierge: a personal shopper who will work with you as much or little as you want, and the dealer as well, to build your car and to answer your questions along the way. “We want to allow and permit transparency so we can answer questions people have,” Mark said.
These ideas have led to the next stage of seamless car buying: the sales valet. “Through pandemic we learned about the sales valet. If you’re doing a digital transaction and want the vehicle delivered to you, we can do that too.” All of these practices allow Genesis to not only scale up more quickly before physical dealerships have a presence in every city, but also, to allow consumers to buy cars in the most convenient way.
Still, Experience Is a Tactile, Real Thing
Our consumers “are sophisticated marketers in their own right,” Jeri said, noting that the core Genesis buyer is accomplished, adventurous and willing to curate their own experiences, including developing their own content. So, they are constantly on the hunt. And that means having experiences that go beyond the digital landscape and into the tactile realm of reality. “There’s a need for ‘butts in seats,’” Jeri said. “And the beauty of cars is exactly that. People want to touch it, sit in it, smell it; that’s not going to go away.”
The emotion of a car is something that becomes real when it’s experienced in person and often, what cements the relationship. “The interior, the beauty of white space, in keeping with the idea of Korean architecture,” Mark said, is the inspiration of Genesis design. “Sometimes you get into a car and see an abundance of gear, but an interior that is soothing is beautiful,” he said. That is the mission of Genesis and, it’s what ultimately what will build the next era of luxury automotive customers.