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       Can a brand that dropped out of the Top 10 list in 2020 rebound and double its market share this year?

Manny Aligada, president of Kia Philippines, believes the Korean brand can.

       The Chamber of Automotive Manufacturers of the Philippines, Inc. (CAMPI), of which Kia is a member, reported total vehicle sales of 223,793 for 2020. Of this, 2,129 unit sales were Kia’s, which is equivalent to 0.95% market share, a 57.6% plunge from the 5,019 unit sales and 1.36% market share that Kia scored in 2019.

       At the same time Geely PH sold 2,158 vehicles, thus dislodging Kia from 10th place. 

        Aligada pointed out that Kia slowed down in the context of the entire industry suffering a 40% plunge in sales due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the resulting community and business lockdowns.

       Now Aligada is excitedly looking forward to ramping up Kia’s sales this year to at least 5,000 units, equivalent to the brand’s 2019 total, in order to double its market share from 0.9% to 2.0%. 

       Having surpassed (with sales of the Association of Vehicle Importers and Distributors) the industry’s revised (downward) 240,000 forecast in 2020, industry leaders are looking at a 20% growth to 300,000 unit sales in 2021. But that was before the Department of Trade & Industry announced that safety measures on imported motor vehicles will be temporarily imposed this year. 

        If the safety measures are extended, the growth forecast for 2021 may be reduced to 10%.  The industry’s long-term plan is to hit total sales of at least 400,000 by the year 2025, which had been already achieved back in the pre-pandemic 2017-2018 era.

KIA’S GAME PLAN. Despite the new tax and other new challenges that may emerge this year, Aligada has hatched a game plan to achieve triple-digit sales growth in order to double Kia’s market share.  “We lost market share in 2020,” he said. “Now, we have a growth strategy going forward to 2025.”  

KIA Philippines president Manny Aligada

       At a virtual roundtable discussion with the media last Thursday, Aligada revealed that his  optimism for the year ahead is premised on the plan to “unbox” at least two new Kia models to add to Kia’s best-selling lineup: the Soluto subcompact sedan, K2500 business and utility truck  and the Stonic subcompact crossover which, despite being introduced in the last quarter of 2020, sold 200 units in December alone. The other Kia vehicles — the Seltos, Sportage, Picanto, Sorento and Carnival — also contributed to total sales in 2020. 

        Moreover, Kia will expand its current nationwide dealer network of 40 with five more this year. 

       At the same time, Kia will intensify its digitalization so as to gain a wider audience and tap varied markets as well as adapt to the contact-less business environment required by social distancing protocols.  In the latter part of 2020, Kia opened a virtual showroom to market its product lineup to customers in the safety and comfort of their homes.

       “Walk-ins used to be the source of sales, but this vanished last year due to the pandemic,” Aligada said. “Things have shifted to the online engagement of customers – virtual showroom, Website, Facebook page.  But after creating awareness, the challenge is to engage the customer.”

BETTER CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE.  Ensuring good and efficient after-sales service is one way of engaging customers for the long-term, Aligada added. “Loyalty to a brand develops if a first-time customer’s experience of after-sales service is good. After-sales service sells the second car.”

       Corollary to this, Kia PH will further engage dealers to provide better customer experience through better availability of parts, enhanced service quality and lead time, plus lower cost of ownership.

       For better availability of parts, Kia PH has increased inventory 5 times covering maintenance, mechanical and collision parts.  Kia has partnered with DHL so that parts from Korea and China will be delivered directly to the dealer within 7 days.

       To improve service quality and lead time, Aligada said that Kia has provided 100% skills training and certification of all the 300 dealer front-liners.  This year, Kia will introduce new remote diagnostic technology so that Kia Motors Corp. (KMC) can examine a car at the dealer real-time and provide expert advice to resolve any problem faster.

       To lower the cost of ownership, Kia dealers will offer mineral motor oil as an option when customers bring in their vehicles for Preventive Maintenance Service.  Total, which supplies Kia PH, claims that mineral motor oil lasts as long as the more expensive synthetic motor oil.

       All the above are highlights of Kia’s Promise to Care program providing a 5-year warranty or 160,000 km, whichever comes first, and 24/7 Roadside Assistance that is free for the first 5 years.  (The Kia K2500 has a 3-year or 110,000-km warranty.)

TO INSPIRE.  Kia has been in the Philippines for 30 years, and will celebrate its second anniversary as part of AC (Ayala Corp.) Motors this month.

        Aligada said that KMC is entering a new era of brand transformation, globally transitioning from “Kia: the Power to surprise” since 2013 to “Kia: Movement that inspires.”

       “The Power to surprise” was better fit for the underdog brand, Aligada said, while “Movement that inspires” captures brand purpose and expresses Kia’s aspiration of Future Leading. Together with the new tagline, KMC will launch a new logo that is “bold, connected, expansive.” The new brand tagline and logo have been rolled out in other markets, and Aligada plans to launch it locally in the second quarter of 2021. 

        Looks like Kia PH, led by Manny Aligada, has a lot of promises to keep and challenges to meet on the way to doubled market share this 2021.  Industry pundits will be watching to see if his game plan hits targets as the year progresses.

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