Hyundai, Corona Hit It Big On Interbrand's List


A handful of top marketers from brands that made the grade or improved their standing on Interbrand's yearly list of top 100 global brands were on hand to ring the closing bell at the New York Stock Exchange on Wednesday.

Marketing Daily spoke with two of them: Jose Pares Gutierrez, commercial VP of Grupo Modelo SAB, which markets six beer brands in the U.S., including Corona -- which made the list for the first time, entering at number 85; and W.J. Cho, EVP of Hyundai Motor Co.'s marketing division.

Hyundai's ranking rose four places to No. 65 and outperformed its peer group in brand value growth, up 9.3% versus last year versus the industry average of 2.8%. The company was No. 84 in 2005.



In the U.S., Hyundai has spent the last 10 years clawing its way up the cliff of respectability, and this fall, plans to announce to the U.S. market that it has reached the summit with its first true luxury car, Equus. Cho concedes that the car presents a bit of a conundrum for the company: while competitors like Toyota and Honda have dealt with the possibility that consumers will not accept luxury cars from non-luxury brands, creating separate channels -- Lexus and Acura, respectively -- Hyundai is keeping the Hyundai moniker on Genesis and Equus.

Cho says the very expensive proposition of creating a new sub-brand is no guarantee of success. He says the company has not discarded the idea of a sub-brand but for the time being is downplaying the Hyundai nameplate on Equus. "We have been in the industry for a relatively brief amount of time, so we need some more time to build brand equity. That's the biggest challenge we have," he tells Marketing Daily. "But the biggest increase we saw in terms of brand valuation was when we launched Genesis."

The Interbrand results are based on financial performance of the branded products or services, the role of brand in the purchase decision process and the strength of the brand to continue to secure earnings for the company.

Modelo markets six brands including Corona, Corona Light, Modelo, Pacifico, and now, Victoria. The company recently tested the latter brand in Chicago, says Gutierrez. "We introduced it in Chicago three months ago and have seen high rates of sales, so we are planning to roll it out nationwide, but the idea was to first understand customer dynamics."

The amber Vienna-style beer, being sold on draft in Chicago, is actually the oldest beer brand in Mexico according to Gutierrez, who says it was first brewed in 1874 and acquired by Modelo in 1932. "It has many years of tradition and is a very unique beer that gives you lots of refreshment without the heaviness of a strong dark beer."

Gutierrez also says that the company is aware that draft beers are becoming much more popular. "Four years ago, Modelo didn't export anything in draft; now Modelo Negro and Pacifico are sold in draft in the U.S. Draft has become an important way of selling beer in the U.S. because consumers can taste it on premise and then, if they like it, buy it in supermarkets in larger quantities."

Unlike some competitive brands, Corona does not market specifically to Hispanic Americans. Corona has been the leading beer brand in Mexico for several decades, but Gutierrez says only 25% of its U.S. volume is purchased by Hispanics.

Indeed, marketing strategy for Corona focuses on mainstream sports, and Gutierrez says that will continue with efforts focused on football, basketball and baseball. He says the company -- which is positioning Corona against premium beers -- has just signed an agreement making Corona official sponsor of the Association of Tennis Professionals, and of ATP tournaments around the world.

Corona, whose U.S. AOR is Cramer-Krasselt, is also a sponsor of professional soccer team D.C. United. In Mexico, the brand also sponsors eight soccer teams of the main league, as well as boxing, wrestling and baseball.

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