KOREA: NOT FIRST MOVERS, BUT REALLY FAST FOLLOWERS

The other day at Lifestyle & Design Cluster, we sent a couple of project managers, two handful participants and other collaborators on a trip to South Korea, which is currently going through a great development. Below you can get an insight into what made an impression on our delegation. We often say that Asian companies are first movers when it comes to technology. That’s not the case in Korea. Neither regarding consumers, companies or educational institutions. On the other hand, they are crazy fast to jump on a trend that is already rolling.

Different companies are not afraid to send products in the market, we would consider in Denmark to be semi-finished and missing a lot of fine-tuning of the product. South Korean companies run incredibly fast on the market – and it works. Something relatively simple as ladies’ bags with solar cells on the side, that can charge a cell phone, sells really well, and Samsung Fashion are experiencing progress on many of their products from the “human fit” brand.

“It’s crazy how South Koreans move on things when they are there. They may not get the ideas for innovation themselves, but they get it extremely quickly, when presented to new things. We can clearly learn that in Denmark, says Heidi Svane Pedersen, Project Manager at Lifestyle & Design Cluster.

The IKEA-effect

It may sound strange, but in South Korea, IKEA is disrupting the market. Not only have they introduced the Koreans to a whole new word, “hygge” and its meaning, they have also introduced equal salary and equal terms for the same job functions. No matter if you are male or female.

In addition, after IKEA´s entry, the Koreans have been affected by some kind of enlightenment in furniture. In the beginning, IKEA was making social dumping, as Koreans could not understand that their furniture was so cheap. Until they discovered that prices were similar in all other countries, and it’s just the domestic manufacturers of furniture that have been too expensive.

All this information also allows customers to change behavior. For example, it is not normal in South Korea to use your home quite a lot. You do not enjoy yourself, and it is normal that you buy a sofa to sit on the floor and use it as a backrest.

Education

In South Korea, they are currently making a great deal of progress that will not fail. Therefore, at Hondik University every year there is a ritual that we know in Europe from a slightly different industry.

In the same way as when a new pope is to be designated, the university’s leadership in various creative education programs, including technology, locks in a hotel room and barely comes out before they have made a whole new admission test that ensures that they only get students with the right mindset.

 Textile City Daegu

South Korea’s fourth largest city was once home to the country’s textile production. However, other countries took over much of that production. They were out competed. So, Daegu reinvented itself. Now they focus on technology in clothing and textiles. Huge players like Samsung are in the picture, while also working intensively to match new start-up companies with large, established brands to constantly drive development forward. Both the government, Samsung and various funds support the city’s business community. And another fun fact is that the TV shop is huge in South Korea. In Denmark, the concept died many years ago. In South Korea, it’s doing really well. 6000 sold suits in 20 minutes via the GS Home concept, where two hosts entertain and talk about the products on the screen. The program takes about a couple of hours.

Specific learning with us home in out suitcases

One of the participants was the CEO Christopher Silcowitz from Kabooki, who produces and sells children’s clothes. He chose to take part in the study trip to experience, on his own, how South Korea is like as a business country. It was a positively surprise.

– The study trip to South Korea gave us a market insight and good angles on what it means to do business in South Korea. We have subsequently decided to establish cooperation with a distributor in South Korea, he says, and emphasizes the satisfaction of the trip.

The majority of the other participants on the trip have declared themselves satisfied or very satisfied with the trip and its overall content in the questionnaires they have subsequently completed.

The trip was initiated by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Lifestyle & Design Cluster and partners.

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