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Int’l consumers unsure about Korean products

Jan 23,2018
Korea-made products lack a concrete reputation among global consumers, according to a report from a state-run institute published Monday.

The paper was based on a survey of 1,200 consumers in the United States, China and Vietnam last month by the Korea Federation of SMEs (KBIZ). Four hundred participants were selected from each country, all of them aware of Korea as a country.

The survey asked which traits they would associate to products according to their country of origin.

Japan had the general image of making products with advanced technology. European products had the image of being “global,” meaning the brand or product would be recognized in any part of the world. Chinese products were perceived to have the advantage of being reasonably priced.

Korea, on the other hand, received good points in several sectors but failed to evoke any single image that set it apart from other countries.

In detail, survey respondents cited good design and price as general advantages of Korean products. Technology and a luxurious image, on the other hand, received relatively low points.

“Despite the recent boost in the quality and image of Korean products, results showed that they still fall behind in competition with Japan and Europe across all three markets,” said the state-run institute.

U.S. consumers generally perceived Korean and Chinese products to be similar, except Korea receiving slightly more points on product durability and China beat Korea by a long way in price and global image.

Vietnamese customers generally had a more favorable perception of Korean products over Chinese products. On the contrary, Chinese consumers thought Korean products fell behind across all traits.

Korean products generally scored badly in all three foreign markets on social responsibility by manufacturers and the quality of after-sales services. Putting effort into consumer satisfaction and building trust were other areas where Korea scored badly.

In terms of products, global consumers knew and trusted Korea’s electronic devices. Shoppers in China and Vietnam were keen to purchase Korean food and cosmetics in the future.

The survey also asked the dominant trait or image of Korea as a country. The No.1 response from U.S. consumers was traditional culture, accounting for 45 percent of respondents. Chinese and Vietnamese respondents cited entertainment, presumably affected by the diffusion of Hallyu, or Korean pop culture.

“Except for a very few areas including electronics, Korean-made products lack a particular brand image and a lot of the traits we were perceived to have in the global market are rapidly being caught up by China,” said Lee Won-sub, head of KBIZ’s membership support division.

“There is urgent need to build a solid country image and develop associated brands in approaching foreign consumers.”


BY SONG KYOUNG-SON [ong.kyoungson@joongang.co.kr]