Korean consumers keep it R.E.A.L.

15 January 2014
SEOUL: Over the past 20 years, the social and personal interests of Korean consumers have been steadily moving away from political issues to economic ones which have a more immediate impact on their daily existence, a new study has said.

A report on the lifestyle of Korean consumers from the Cheil Worldwide agency noted, for example, that the top three social interests in 1991 were domestic politics, real estate and crime, but by 2013 the top three were unemployment, inflation and ending the economic slump.

As regards personal interests, jobs and income in old age had risen up the agenda in 2013 replacing such things as hobbies and household chores.

Cheil Worldwide said that today's consumers were living in a digital-driven world which exhibited the contrasting values of uncertainty and indefinite potential. It suggested the acronym R.E.A.L. (derived from the first letters of the four forces driving marketing - Reality, Experience, Authenticity and Life Share) would be the marketing keyword for the year ahead.

"Simply being an 'iconic' brand does not mean you can win the hearts and minds of consumers," said Kenneth Cho, Head of Cheil DnA (Data & Analytics) Center. "Practical experience, coupled with authenticity, is the best way to move your consumers," he declared.

The force of reality was evident in the practice of showrooming which demonstrated, Cheil argued, that consumers trusted only what they could see. Similarly, the customer experience was becoming increasingly integrated across channels – stores, websites, social media, mobile platforms, gaming and home shopping – and brands needed to get consumers to see, touch and feel items and offer experiences via these different channels.

Authenticity was essential as savvy consumers were able to see beyond a brand's ostentatious messages. Cheil cited the example of Coway, a Korean water purifier brand, which teamed up with a junior high-school in Seoul to educate students on benefits of consuming water rather than soft drinks.

After six months of drinking eight glasses of water each day, students experienced better health outcomes, including a reduction in body fat and lower levels of fatigue, thus enabling Coway to portray itself as more than just a water purifier brand.

Cheil proposed the fourth concept of Life Share as one to replace market share and share of mind in the competition between brands. "Advertising has to take place in consumers' daily lives instead of their mind," it stated.

Data sourced from Cheil Worldwide; additional content by Warc staff
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