Foreign beers gain popularity here
Koreans have long been accustomed to two types of beers from two domestic breweries _ Oriental Brewery (OB) and Hite-Jinro _ that dominate the market. However, there is a sign of change as consumers turn their eyes to import beers seeking to taste something exotic and unique, customs and industrial data showed Wednesday.
According to data from the Korea Customs Service (KCS), the nation imported beers worth $25.2 million in the first five months this year, up 27.3 percent from a year ago. In 2011, 118.1 million bottles of foreign beers were sold reaching more than 100 million for the first time.
Retailers say they sell more than 200 kinds of beers from all over the world reflecting diversified demand from customers. Most of them are in the younger generation who enjoyed foreign beer brands while studying abroad or on international trips.
Women who enjoy premium foreign beers also contributed to sales of import beers, say firms in the industry. Diageo Korea, which imports Guinness and Irish red ale Smithwick’s, says young female consumers are the main consumers of their products.
“Female consumers pay more money for premium beers. We are targeting their advanced taste,” said a Diageo spokesman.
Marketing strategies adopted by foreign beer importers also create more demand for them, industry watchers say. Dutch beer manufacturer Heineken hosted an electronic dance music festival titled Sensation last month at KINTEX in Goyang, Gyeonggi Province which drew more than 20,000 local people.
OB, which imports Mexican beer company Corona, hosted a marketing event at Haeundae Beach, Busan earlier this month targeting young vacationers at one of the nation’s most famous holiday destinations.
Experts say beer sales from Europe will increase further thanks to a bilateral free trade agreement which has been effective from July last year. Beer prices from the 27-country economic bloc will decrease by 4.3 percent every year for the coming seven years.