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Hip-Hop Hamsters Help Kia Outpace Industry

Korean maker now fastest-growing brand in U.S.

by on Oct.24, 2011

Kia's Hamstars are back - and continue to help draw new buyers into the maker's showrooms.

In a crowded field, Kia has emerged as the fastest growing automotive brand in the United States with a combination of new products, clever marketing and growing owner loyalty that has satisfied customers coming back for more. The combination also suggests Kia is benefitting from a surge of favorable “world-of-mouth” endorsements over backyard fences and across driveways.

Using hip-hop hamsters to promote new products that have shifted from stodgy to stylish is clearly paying off for Kia, long lost in the shadows of its better-known Korean sibling Hyundai.

Kia’s dealer count has gone up modestly but sales per dealership have doubled since 2008 as the company’s aggressive product cadence has produced a series of well-designed vehicles such as the Soul, Forte, Forte Koup, Sorento, Sportage, Optima and now the subcompact Rio and Optima Hybrid.

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The results have been an impressive sales surge. Kia announced best-ever September sales of 35,609 units, an 18.4% increase over the same period last year and the company’s 13th straight monthly sales record. For the year-to-date, Kia’s sales are up 37%, topping 365,000, boosting the company’s market share to 3.9%. The Korean automaker also expects to increase its 2011 market share for the 17th consecutive year, according to Tom Loveless, its vice president of sales.