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Management Report

Management reports, briefs issued by Samsung Economic Research Institute

Korea's Top Ten 'Hits' of 2004

Korea's Top Ten 'Hits' of 2004

LEE Min-Hoon

Dec. 18, 2004

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Korea's economy was expected to grow by more than 4% in 2004, marking marginal progress over the 3.1% of the previous year. That slow growth kept consumption down, widening the gap between exports and domestic demand. The actual state of the economy was bad enough, but when compared to weak economic indicators, the public perception of the economy's performance was even worse.

To get a better feel for consumer sentiment at a time of economic slowdown, Samsung Economic Research Institute (SERI) conducted a three-day opinion poll from December 8 to 10, asking 10,800 subscribers of www.seri.org to recommend top ten "hit" products of the year. They were, in order of popularity: 1) Cyworld (an Internet community of web-logs); 2) Multi-function cellphones; 3) Vita500 health drinks; 4) The popularity of "Yonsama" and the Korean Wave in Japan; 5) High-capacity MP3 music players; 6) Low-price cosmetics; 7) The Korean TV miniseries "Lovers in Paris"; 8) The bestseller book: "The Magical Way of Learning Chinese Ideographs"; 9) Longterm mortgage loans; and 10) Spicy food.

Overall, Korean consumers showed a great deal of interest in generational fads, picking products following their own judgment, according to their own preference, irrespective of social conventions. The choice of "Cyworld," "Yonsama and the Korean Wave," and "Lovers in Paris?indicated their readiness to express themselves unencumbered by social conventions or traditions. The bestseller book like "The Magical Way" confirmed the propensity of Korean students being academically competitive; the popularity of spicy food and health supplements like Vita500 seem to show that young Korean consumers' are as keen as ever to relieve social stress and tension at a time of business slowdowns.

If the popularity of these products reflected a kind of rational calculation on the part of consumers, things like "multi-function mobile phones" and "high capacity MP3 music players" confirmed this trend. Choice of other things like low-price cosmetics and long-term mortgage loans, demonstrated how eager consumers are to maximize income by going for items with lasting value.

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