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HomeQ&AI'm Glad I'm Not in Love in South Korea

I’m Glad I’m Not in Love in South Korea

I’M GLAD I’M NOT IN LOVE IN SOUTH KOREA

My birthday falls on February 17th so I’ve never been all that excited about Valentine’s Day, preferring instead a day that’s all about me! Plus, like many others, I hate the commercialization of holidays. It could be worse however; I could be in love in South Korea.

Korean Coupledom

With love celebrations falling on the 14th of every month, plus anniversaries and important milestones (i.e. 100 days since a couple has met), South Korea has perfected the commercialized of romantic relationships in a way that would make even North American marketers envious.

It all starts with Diary Day in January, where lovers present each other diaries with all the important aforementioned dates circled in red. With the plethora of dates to observe throughout the year, it’s probably the most practical of the love holidays!

February 14th is celebrated in much the same fashion as it is in North America, except it is the girl that does all the giving. The guy then has a month to ponder what to get his gal in return and reciprocates on White Day, usually with elaborately wrapped candy. Rose Day, Kiss Day, Silver Day, Photo Day and Hug Day are all quite self-explanatory.

And don’t worry about singles in Korea. April 15th, Black Day, is set aside for them to commiserate together and publicly eat noodles in black bean sauce, in the hopes of meeting their soul mates. If they are so fortunate, one month later they can express their newfound love (or infatuation?) by exchanging yellow roses. The unlucky (some may say lucky), who are still dateless, meet for curry.

Searching for Love

Companies eying the increasingly wealthy Korean market – in particular it’s younger generation, are savvy to incorporate these holidays into their marketing campaigns.

The simple image of the Absolut Vodka bottle has been used for years but evolves in creative ways to convey different things in different cultures. Sometimes it is as simple as changing the text of the advertisement and at other times the image itself changes. Consider the following ads. The first was used in South Korea in advance of White Day and is very similar to an ad used in Miami aimed at the Hispanic population. Vodka as an expression of your undying love has also been used in Valentine’s Day campaigns in North American (incidentally the same image was used again with the captions “Absolut Bravo” and “Absolut Amica”).

The Opportunity

So if vodka spells love, what implications are there for your product? Koreans trying to woo their lovers are always on the lookout for something novel or cute (in South Korea cute sells (think Hello Kitty), not sex).

For Canadian wine producers, what better day to launch a new product than Wine Day on October 14th? Money Day in December may seem overtly consumerist but Christmas is not widely celebrated. I guess South Koreans decided to embrace the excesses of the season without a religious pretext and it’s a great time to introduce a new consumer product to South Koreans.

If you would like more information about love holidays, send me an e-mail and I’ll pass along a news article with more details.

Copyright © International Strategies Ltd. 2005.

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