Kia’s rebranding efforts have been largely successful. That’s because, unlike other automakers whose execution wasn’t as fast nor as consistent, Kia’s rebranding was broad and fast-paced. Take, for example, the new Kia logo. This was spread over the entire model range in a relatively short time, while others only debuted their new logos once they’ve updated the vehicle for a facelift or a new generation. Marketing and press materials also bared the new Kia logo, while Kia dealers all over the world have also largely followed suit.
It’s one thing to give a new Kia brand a fresh set of trendy clothes, but it’s another to offer a revolutionary retail experience altogether. The latter is exactly what we experienced at the Kia 360 experience center in Gangnam and their flagship dealer in Gangseo (both in Seoul), and if you’re in the area, why not pay them a visit? In addition, what you’re about to see from these two retail spaces could soon come to a Kia dealership near you.
Feel Right At Home
Immediately noticeable is the Global Space Identity 2.0 (GSI 2.0) of these facilities. Since Kia dealers are the main touchpoints of the customers with the brand, it’s only appropriate that these facilities are at their best foot forward from an aesthetics perspective. Apart from rocking the new logo, Kia dealers are also stylized in neutral tones and materials that are primarily made out of (or look like) wood and metal–showcasing the luxurious yet sleek nature of Kia’s vehicles. It also certainly helps in making the dealership feel more comfortable than your own living room.
GSI 2.0 is something that’s sure to be adopted by all Kia dealers globally, but Kia’s facilities in Seoul take it a step further–and it’s one that could come soon to the Philippines, though nothing has been confirmed. Kia’s vehicle designs have been centered around the “Opposite United” design philosophy–combining the contrasts of voluminous shapes and minimalist details to create cars that look great whatever the lighting and environmental circumstance.
Digitalization Meets The Human Touch
That principle of contrast has also been applied to the customer experience as well. Digitalization has played a major role in transforming Kia’s retail experience. In fact, Kia Gangseo’s customers are greeted by a 14.6-meter-long LED screen. With the 32-inch touch screen, customers are able to configure their cars Gran Turismo style, from the exterior to the interior and even down to how the car looks in various lighting and surroundings. Besides the giant LED screen, there’s a wall filled with smart tablets that showcase the entire color palette of your chosen Kia vehicle. Even if you aren’t buying a Kia, this area of the Gangseo dealership is a fun way to kill time–one that we hope will be adopted in Philippine dealerships.
Speaking of killing time, the Kia flagship Gangeso dealer lets you do that in two ways while your car is being serviced. You can have a robotic barista make you a cup of coffee, or take a look at the Interactive Ground–an intimate space where you can test your photography skills by utilizing the LED screen displaying virtual backgrounds and the vehicle on display.
Despite the heavy use of digitalization and even the choice of having a retail service free from sales agents, these Kia facilities will still make you feel emotionally connected with friendly and heavily-personalized staff that anticipate your needs and wants. Just imagine taking a business-class flight but in a personalized dealership setting.
Turning The Test Drive Into An Experience
Lastly, Kia has also transformed the rudimentary test drive into an experience in itself. This is probably not going to happen to the Philippines considering our traffic, but it’s still worth a shot. Kia Gangseo call their test drive experience “Drive On”, and it’s not just simply taking the vehicle around the block. Again–in an LED board that looks like a racetrack selection from Gran Turismo, customers can choose various test drive courses that mimic a typical Kia customer’s usual route. Some are short, but some can last to an hour to let you experience everything that a Kia has to offer.
With Kia’s new global brand identity, it’s easy to change how your facade looks, or how the ads and marketing materials communicate what the brand stands for. But to truly make the customer feel emotionally connected to the brand, it’s the dealership experience that will set the tone for what they can look forward to when they finally own that dream Kia. With these two facilities, we can expect some, if not all of Kia’s digitalized yet personalized experiences to carry over to Philippine dealers soon. Opposites United isn’t just a marketing term for its design language–it’s apparently a principle that blends contrasting ideas in order to offer an unprecedented level of digital yet personalized ownership for Kia’s customers.
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