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South Korea in the Spotlight – Should This Market Be on Your Radar?
Posted by Rebecca Ray on February 8, 2018  in the following blogs: Best Practices, Business Globalization, Global Marketing
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Winter sports enthusiasts – and the companies that sponsor them – are focused on the Olympics in, South Korea this month. This global sports event may prompt your organization to review jumping into South Korea for the first time. Or it may offer the chance to review your current investment level to prepare for the future. In either case, here are four actions you can take to support the executive decision-making process and, at the same time, gain more visibility for your team at the strategic level.

  1. Offer data on growth projections for South Korea and for your sector in particular. The country continues to grow at one of the fastest rates in the world, with its CEOs winning international recognition. Its telecommunications infrastructure provides higher quality, faster, and cheaper online speeds than most of the rest of the world. Virtually all South Koreans are connected – even when they’re way underground in the metro. Women, for example, spend an average of 3.75 hours on their mobile apps every day. Just imagine how your product or service could perform under these optimum conditions! Where do you find this data? Through professional and trade associations related to your industry, export.gov, and the office and website of your country’s commercial attaché in South Korea.

  2. Draw attention to the fact that the Korean export story doesn’t begin or end with Samsung, Hyundai, or K-Pop. With a relatively small home market, South Korean companies have a long tradition of going global from the outset. For example, cosmetic and beauty companies face stiff competition worldwide and in their home markets from the K-Beauty trend. What’s a good resource for coming up to speed quickly on your own sector? One overlooked source are the Koreans who live and work in your own community. You will have access to large expatriate communities in the U.S. (Los Angeles, New York City, and Palisades Park in New Jersey, for example), Europe (Frankfurt and London), China (Beijing, Shanghai, and Qingdao), and Japan (Koto, Osaka, and Tokyo).

  3. Paint a picture of the personas your company should target. Learn to view the South Korean market as a place to demonstrate where your other markets will be in one to two years – including the one at home. Analyze how your prospect/customer profiles in South Korea resemble and diverge from those in your home market. For example, could your next product launch benefit from more stylish packaging? Or perhaps you need to tweak your messaging to focus on why your service is just as good – or better – than what local and regional Asian competitors can offer.

  4. Identify the most appropriate level of linguistic support for the South Korean customer experience (CX). This applies even if your company is already active in the market. Are you localizing too much content or not enough? Are you providing localized pieces in the most attractive format (more graphics, anyone?)? Is tolerance for your source language, such as English, higher in your sector than for others in South Korea? What bar has the competition set for availability of local-language content, code, and programs? As you research the answers to these questions, keep in mind that Korean is number 10 on the Top 100 Online Languages list published annually by CSA Research, responsible for US$1.34 trillion in e-GDP.

While enjoying the XXIII Olympic Winter Games, put on your marketing hat and pay attention to the local and regional companies advertising in the background on billboards, buses, taxis, and other public venues. Though you may not understand the text, take note of the images that are chosen, people’s expressions, the colors used, and the density of surrounding text. Then think about how your company could enhance its current products and services for the South Korean customer experience. At that point, you’ll be well on your way to putting together a business case for entering or increasing your current investment in this important market.


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