Asia Minute: Hawai‘i Island’s Marketing Magic in South Korea

Apr 13, 2018

Hyundai Kona
Credit Wikipedia

The western side of the Big Island of Hawai‘i is getting some extra attention this week at an unlikely location. Kona is making headlines in South Korea—but not for reasons you might expect. HPR’s Bill Dorman has more in today’s Asia Minute.

Kona’s popularity in South Korea this week has nothing to do with tourism, but a lot to do with image. The Kona Electric is one of the stars of a new government-sponsored exhibition of electric vehicles in Seoul. Hyundai Motor makes the Kona, and the company says it is the first electric compact Sport Utility Vehicle in the world.

The Seoul government certifies that the Kona will travel more than 250 miles on a single charge of its battery.

It was just about a year ago that Hyundai announced it was going to use the Kona name as an SUV model—part of a pattern of naming vehicles after what it calls “acclaimed travel destinations.” The company wrote in a corporate release that the choice was “reflecting many of the lifestyle attributes of the desirable Kona district on the Big Island of Hawai‘i.”

Elsewhere in its promotional literature, the automaker mentions Kona coffee, surfing, water-skiing and scuba diving.

As to exactly what all of those items and activities have to do with a motor vehicle, in this case the beauty of the island may be in the eye of the marketer.

Credit Alexander Migl / Wikimedia Commons

Or, in the words of the company, “the island’s energetic image is reflected in the innovative, practical and highly functional design of Hyundai’s new lifestyle-focused SUV.”

And that’s just the west side.