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Management Report

Management reports, briefs issued by Samsung Economic Research Institute

Ten Best Hip Products of 2005

Ten Best Hip Products of 2005

LEE Min-Hoon

Dec. 26, 2005

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At the end of a three-year economic slowdown, Korean consumers are slowly opening their purse. Private consumption rose 3.5% from a year ago, showing the biggest growth rate in three years. In 2003 and 2004, consumption registered a meager growth of 1.2% and 0.5% respectively.

Notwithstanding the relatively higher consumer spending this year, the growth rate was still behind the GDP growth of 3.8%. This was a clear sign that Korean consumers were still cautious in spending, in the face of uncertainty governing the country's political and social fronts.

Although the standards of living improved slightly, and the public's perception of the economy's performance brightened during the year, both the consumer expectation index (measuring economic conditions for the next six months) and consumer evaluation index (measuring current economic conditions as compared to the previous six months) crawled below the benchmark 100 line, indicating that consumers were mostly pessimistic than optimistic in their general outlook.

To get a more precise picture of their mood, Samsung Economic Research Institute (SERI) conducted a three-day survey from December 8 to 10 of its subscribers to www.seri.org, eliciting answers from 11,406 people. They were asked to list ten products they considered to be the most "hip" in 2005. This report analyzes their choices.

Most respondents showed a keen interest in leisure and cultural products, a clear sign that they are searching for means to relieve their collective angst and social stresses. A half of products listed were leisure items such as the newly-restored Chonggyechon Stream that runs through the middle of downtown section in Seoul, alleviating the dreary landscape of concrete buildings; the latest craze over K-1, a violent sport featuring merciless combats; the smashing TV drama hit called "My Name is Kim Sam Sun," the story of an independent-minded girl who succeeds as a baker by relying on her own wits (and other TV drama series, including "My Rosy Life," and "Be Strong, Kum Sun" all featuring strong-willed women who pursue their destiny with resolve); Kart Rider (online game); and a hit movie "Welcome to Dongmakgol." The television drama series triggered a big success with their main characters portraying a strong-willed heroines battling out the challenges of everyday life.

The rest consisted of satellite Digital Multimedia Broadcasting (DMB) mobile phone, car navigation system, and blogs, all of which have attributes of electronically-linked entertainment and leisure.

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