Kaua‘i Made on stride for great things

Special to THE GARDEN ISLAND

Since its launch in July 2006, the Kaua‘i Made program has made inroads in the marketing world.

“Hits to the Kaua‘i Made Web site in the first week of March have gone through the roof,” said Beth Tokioka, Director of the Office of Economic Development.

Tokioka attributed the increase to its marketing efforts with the Kaua‘i Visitors Bureau in the first quarter of this year.

They purchased an ad in the KVB Vacation Planner. Kaua‘i Made representatives accompanied KVB to travel shows in Chicago, New York and Los Angeles and distributed shopping guides with the Web site address. They partnered with KVB to do an e-mail blast which included a blurb about Kaua‘i Made.

In the first week after the travel shows and e-mail blast, the Kaua‘i Made Web site received 5,000 hits, with 2,500 hits coming in one day. Since they began tracking the number of hits in August, the site was averaging 50 per day.

“I’m encouraged that our Web site is starting to get some traffic,” Tokioka said.

Another thing they have been tracking is the referring source. In the period between March 6 and March 18, the number one source was direct, meaning people typed in the Kaua‘i Made Web site address. The number two source was the Google search engine. The number three source was

kauaiworld.com, the Web site of The Garden Island.

“This is tremendous,” Tokioka said.

Kaua‘i Publishing Company is one of 13 new member businesses for 2007. Prior to Kaua‘i Publishing Company — producers of The Garden Island, Essential Kaua‘i and Kaua‘i Business Report — membership, Kauai.gov, the County of Kaua‘i Web site, used to hold the number three slot.

This information, along with the idea that reciprocal links between the Kaua‘i Made site and retailer sites would be mutually beneficial, were presented to retailers in the program at a meeting on Tuesday.

The meeting brought together a variety of retailers: large and small; those with multiple outlets; and those with specialties.

“The meeting helped me to better understand what the program is currently doing for them and how we can better partner with them,” Tokioka said.

Gale Sagucio from JJ ‘Ohana in Hanapepe said she learned different ways to use the Kaua‘i Made marketing and retail support materials when promoting products. She sees the potential to benefit retailers.

“The program is still young,” Sagucio said. “We need to give it a chance.”

Rod Sueoka of Sueoka Store in Koloa said he sees the exposure with the publications and the aggressive marketing that Tokioka is doing on the Internet.

“I’m happy with Beth, and I’m happy with the program,” Sueoka said.

Sueoka hopes to have more participation in the program from food vendors.

Tokioka said the feedback from retailers has given her ideas for next steps. She said she will survey the retailers for types of products they are looking for and their requirements. She will then create a matrix which she will share with vendors who can then make calls to appropriate retailers.

In turn, Tokioka said she can add better data to her vendors list that would provide more targeted information for the retailers.

“It was good to hear from these retailers that they are interested in utilizing the program to their best advantage,” Tokioka said.

Tokioka said she sees the need to conduct seminars for product makers so they can make their products more “retail friendly.” The information shared by the retailers gave her the content for those seminars.

Touch screen monitors at resorts is a promotional vehicle that Tokioka will look into as a result of the sharing of ideas at the meeting. Drive guides, given to rental car customers, could give the Kaua‘i Made retail map more visibility.

The Kaua‘i Made program came out of a 2005 county ordinance requiring vendors selling products advertised as Kaua‘i-made to be able to demonstrate that the product is made with Kaua‘i manpower or products.

Interested product manufacturers and retailers have to apply for the program and pay a $175 permit fee. Permittees receive use of the Kaua‘i Made logo on product packaging and marketing materials. They also receive point-of-purchase displays, brochures listing Kaua‘i Made retailers and vendors and a full-page listing on the Kaua‘i Made Web site.

“The Kaua‘i Made (marketing and retail support materials) are professional and tasteful,” said Joe Neil of William and Zimmer Woodworkers. “The Koa Store” makes good use of table tents, shelf talkers, posters and decals.

Neil said 90 percent of the business is tourist oriented. Tourists purchase gifts to take home for others and remembrances for themselves.

“The fact that (their purchase) was made here makes it all that more special,” Neil said.

“If we have value emanating from inside, that people are proud to be a part of this program, we can do so much more,” Tokioka said. “We have only scratched the surface in terms of what we can do to get more exposure, link retailers with vendors and provide learning opportunities.”

• Cynthia Matsuoka is a freelance writer for The Garden Island and former principal of Chiefess Kamakahelei Middle School. She can be reached by e-mail at aharju@kauaipubco.com

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