Creative Marketing at Its Best: Let Busy Korean Consumers Shop for Groceries in the Subway

January 13, 2012 § Leave a comment

This is from 2011, but is SO AWESOME that it deserves to be blogged about again 🙂

Tesco’s supermarket chain in Korea, known as HomePlus, wasn’t doing very well compared to its competitors. One of their setbacks was the number of stores they owned, so in order to reach more customers without increasing the number of locations they brought in a (very cool) marketing campaign that brought the supermarket to the Korean consumer. Putting up advertisements in the subway that were pictures of the actual store shelves of HomePlus locations, people waiting in line at the subway could snap pictures of the QR codes below each product and get their groceries delivered to them–without ever stepping into the actual store.

I wish something this awesome could come to America as well, but there’s a few reasons why I think this could only have been such a success in Korea:

  1. Delivery service is amazing in Seoul. I used to joke with a friend that even if I ordered dinner, late, while at a Buddhist temple in the middle of the mountains, my jjigae (broad term referring to Korean spicy stew) would still find its way to me. Delivery in America, on the other hand? Depends on the city, and depends on the restaurant/bakery… and isn’t nearly as cultural a fixture.
  2. The subway is a very important part of almost every Seoulite’s life. Thus the exposure that HomePlus was getting was concentrated and large-scale–whereas America only has a few subway systems, so reach is less far. Also, most subway advertisements (large ones, at least) that I’ve seen in San Francisco and Boston are on the far end of the wall, across the tracks. So unless the ads were closer, or in/on the subway cars themselves, people have no way of getting close enough to scan the QR codes or peruse the 2D snack aisle.
  3. Korea is technologically very advanced, so the majority of people who have phones have sophisticated ones that are smart and have QR code scanners built-in. Smartphones aren’t nearly as widespread in America.

Regardless, this is a very cool example of culturally relevant and innovative marketing/branding/advertising. Check out the short and well-explained video!


Read more:

Digital Marketing Strategies: What’s Next in Consumer Marketing

Tesco builds virtual shops for Korean commuters



The style of The North Face apparel one wears makes you either a loser, a gangster, or head honcho–at least in Korean elementary and middle schools

January 10, 2012 § Leave a comment

I can’t remember if this kind of posturing happened on such a scale while I was in elementary or junior high, but I did go to school in Utah so one could say I wasn’t exposed to the American average. Nevertheless, this CNNGo article gives a nice summary of what I’d previously only heard through the grapevine (aka my mom): The North Face jackets are in high demand among Korean grade-schoolers, and depending on what version they wear, their social lives and status are either happenin’… or stolen from them.

(No mention in the article of what happens to those who don’t even own a jacket, not even the “bottom” style, Nuptse 2. Are they “losers” too, only… tier 2?…)

Anyway, it is apparent that Korea’s intense materialist culture and need to save face via consumerism has reached the young and younger customer market by attaching social significance to poofy, feathery (and American! Most important) outdoor wear. However, my questions are

A) How and when did this trend start? and

B) Did The North Face’s branding/marketing/advertising have anything to do with it?

Also, the article never differentiates between boys and girls. Are girls wearing down jackets and getting bullied for it too? Somehow I doubt it… and that makes me go on to wonder if there is an equally vicious game among female students that isn’t as violent or obvious as the male one.

Korea’s love for American goods is definitely variable (beef, anyone?) but overall American brands are very popular and seem to have caught on well (i.e. Starbucks, Nike, TOMS, UGGS, Forever 21 etc.). But I’ve never heard of a foreign good being such a delineated consumer status symbol for school kids–and by feature, no less, not even by brand. And that’s not to say there aren’t plenty of analogous examples elsewhere in the world; but this kind of fad seems to have surprised everyone (reddit responses,’s opinion, a tumblr blog post on the subject. Renewed violence over these jackets in the Korean news.)

In addition… it’s not like these jackets come in kid-size. I’m imagining black marshmallows with heads and legs sticking out, swaggering around the school…

How Korean Food is Perceived in America

January 6, 2012 § Leave a comment

While I adore Korean food and would be content eating it for breakfast, lunch, snack and dinner, I know that I’m not the most objective person to ask since I am also Korean American. 🙂 I would credit the integral role of kimchi as being one of the reasons why it has taken so long for Korean cuisine to come into the public consciousness… but then again, cheese and curry (both which are smelly) are both delectable and can even be refined, so maybe there’s still hope yet.

And according to the Chosonilbo’s article Korean Cuisine Takes Bigger Bite Out of ‘Big Apple’, it’s not just me after all:

One out of three New Yorkers give Korean cuisine the thumbs up, according to a survey by the Ministry for Food, Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries.

One example of the food’s growing popularity is the bibimbap burgers created by one of the Big Apple’s leading chefs, Angelo Sosa, who sells them at his own restaurant, Social Eats. Sosa claimed first place in the latest Greatest Burger in America competition, which was hosted in May by, a U.S. website that specialized in food and restaurants. « Read the rest of this entry »

Saturday Night Live… in South Korea!

January 3, 2012 § Leave a comment

SNL in Korea?! Is the American brand of comedy and satire translatable into the Korean context?

While it’s only a few episodes in, viewer ratings have been pretty solid so far, although general consensus is that the first show was good, the second show… not as good.

If you’ve seen the show, what do you think? And if you haven’t… do you think it will be a success?

I haven’t seen an episode yet but will loop back here and post my thoughts if I do.

Saturday Night Live Korea

Picture taken from here.

Read more:

WSJ “Live from Seoul! It’s Saturday…Really…”

Dramabeans’ Summary of Episode One

AllKPop’s Editorial of Episode One


1.16.2010 Add: Pictures of past SNL Korea hosts and this week’s new host

Where Am I?

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