Kia: Entering a Saturated Hispanic Market
Kia entered the US Market in the 90s, at a time where there were already many established brands: Ford, Toyota, and Nissan, to name a few. These brands had already been making investments in not only the American market but with Hispanics in particular, for many years prior to Kia’s arrival. Thus, in order for Kia to be successful, it had to make meaningful investments to get in front of the Hispanic audience.
In order to maximize that investment, Kia first examined its main competitors, namely Toyota and Nissan, whose growth had largely been driven by the Hispanic market and its historic affinity for Japanese vehicles, stemming from their usage in many of their countries of origin. Kia recognized that their competitors were doing several things right in order to sustain increased market share over several decades. Kia also determined that in order to be disruptive, they did not have to recreate the entire wheel. Kia clearly made investments in their product and price point to make it attractive to the American consumer, highlighting such across their advertising efforts. Furthermore, the Kia team leaned into several of the same proven channels and approaches that were already being leveraged by its competitors and engaged in a conquesting strategy aimed at connecting with the same consumers as Nissan and Toyota, and slowly stealing share. Since entering the market, Kia has not let up its aggressive media strategy and continues to make significant investments in connecting to and converting the Hispanic consumer.
Kia has also excelled as a brand playing in-culture, understanding the needs and motivations of many of their Hispanic customers. Yes, this means being present for big cultural events, like soccer, starting with the 2006 FIFA World Cup, and continuing to this day with announcements like being the title sponsor for Brazil’s Supercopa tournament. However, to be an effective in-culture marketer, it goes deeper than that. Just as Walmart’s iconic “save money, live better” messaging places Walmart at the center of driving progress (the money you save can be used for other things you want or need), Kia has also aimed to position itself as a brand that empowers the Hispanic consumer to achieve their goals. By showing that they understand the lives of hardworking Latinos and how Kia as a brand shares those values of hard work and perseverance, Kia has been able to make meaningful connections with their target market. They then take this further, working with influencers that not only resonate with the values of Kia but also those of the US Hispanic community. In 2019, Kia worked with several influencers like Andrea Londo, a self-proclaimed “border child” who worked hard and aspired to live out the American Dream. Londo’s commitment to the American dream deeply resonates with US Hispanics. Kia continues to support this connection through its “Driving Forces” content series.
Kia positions itself as “a once-underdog brand… stand[ing] with those who…’Give It Everything’ to adapt, morph and transform, but still embrace their individuality.” This is at the heart of what many Latinos are striving for—especially younger Latinos, who are living and thriving with multiple identities and affinities. By leaning into shared values and culture, and maintaining an aggressive media effort to get that message in front of the market, Kia has been able to make substantial gains with Hispanics over the years, winning accolades like SUV of The Year from the Latin Flavor Cars of the Year Awards earlier this year.
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UMG, based in Greenville, SC, is the first full-service Hispanic marketing, advertising, and event management firm in South Carolina. UMG helps companies connect with multicultural audiences through exceptional strategies, effective communications, compelling creative and measurable results. For more information about UMG, visit https://umg.agency