Visitors, though fewer, still look for authentic Kaua‘i products

Surely, the downturn in visitor arrivals this year will have an impact on local businesses, and some will be more severely impacted than others.

While statistics fly back and forth in an effort to quantify the actual economic hit we’re experiencing, logic would tell you that less foot traffic in our places of business automatically translates to a reduction in revenues. Or does it?

The Kaua‘i Made program was launched by the county of Kaua‘i two years ago to promote local businesses and entrepreneurs who create unique products using material and labor from Kaua‘i. It also benefits retail outlets that join the program and sell Kaua‘i Made products.

Today, 92 businesses have met the Kaua‘i Made standard and chosen to join the program. At a low annual fee of $50 per product/product line and $75 per retail outlet, the Kaua‘i Made program is arguably the best marketing deal on Kaua‘i. A listing on the Kaua‘i Made Web site and in the official shopping guide — available on brochure racks throughout the island — is worth thousands of dollars. And that’s just the start of benefits offered to Kaua‘i Made members.

For customers it’s a great deal as well. We know that 85 percent of the visitors who come to Kaua‘i are shopping for authentic, locally made products. Aside from going to the beach and renting a car, it’s what virtually all of them do at some point during their trip. The Kaua‘i Made seal offers a guarantee that the product is of high quality and genuinely from Kaua‘i. Members who use the logo effectively create an important and valuable point of difference for their product or retail establishment.

In times such as these, the real beauty of the Kaua‘i Made program is that members’ customers don’t have to physically be here to make a purchase. Also, because the program requires the product maker to invest back in the island’s economy by using labor and materials from Kaua‘i whenever possible, we see dollars circulating here rather than slipping off-shore.

Of course, not every product will qualify for the Kaua‘i Made program. Applicants must participate in an evaluation process to insure that the product meets quality standards and utilizes a significant amount of materials and labor from Kaua‘i. Applications for the 2009 program are currently being accepted and will begin to be processed in September. If you have a great product, or a retail establishment that could benefit from some extra promotional muscle, NOW is the time to consider Kaua‘i Made as a part of your overall sales and marketing efforts.

To learn more about the program, call 241-4946, e-mail kauaimade@kauai.gov or visit www.kauaimade.net

• Beth Tokioka is director of Kaua‘i County’s Office of Economic Development. She can be reached at btokioka@kauai.gov

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