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5,396 $m

Kia's star is rising with global sales up about 4 percent. As a result of its continued branding efforts-expressed in the slogan, "The Power to Surprise"-the Korean automobile manufacturer has successfully repositioned itself from a 'low cost alternative' brand to one that appeals to more design conscious consumers, or those who value an emotional connection to brands. Internal clarity and core values are strong at Kia and are articulated in the mantra "Vibrant, Distinctive and Reliable." Playing up its distinctive side, Kia embraced the concept of "sensory branding," a way to connect with all five of a consumer's senses. Toward this end, the brand created, a theme song, "Advent of Kians" in the spring of 2013 and a Kia fragrance as well. In order to increase relevance with younger consumers, Kia created the "Kia Motion" app, available on iTunes. In further efforts to reach younger consumers and increase its presence globally, Kia continues to be an active sponsor of sports. The Hyundai-Kia automotive group sponsored the 2014 FIFA World Cup and was, notably, the only car manufacturer to do so.

Consistent global dealership guidelines and digital branding communications were key to the brand's increase in global market share this past year, which included impressive growth in emerging markets. The brand grew in the Eastern European market, for example, by localizing and securing its position as a leading imported brand. Kia's presence in China improved significantly after a series of successful marketing campaigns, which included effective viral marketing. With new product releases in the pipeline, the outlook is positive for Kia in the U.S. market too. Vehicle design, unique features, and a growing reputation as a sustainable brand (Kia offers an array of fuel-efficient options, including hybrids like Kia Optima) are now important purchase factors. This combination of strengths is widening Kia's appeal to more affluent customers. With its green profile, performance gains, creative approach to marketing, and inroads into to key markets, it does not appear that Kia's momentum will slow down any time soon.

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