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Firms’ image biggest factor in buyers’ minds

Corporate image has a major influence on local consumers who said their purchases were largely based on the image companies cultivate, according to a survey by the Korea Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

More than 80 percent of those surveyed said they were influenced by corporate image when purchasing products, while only about 15 percent said they were not.

Consumers also were found to hold domestic companies in better regard compared to their foreign counterparts.

About 40 percent said their opinion of South Korean firms was better than those of multinational companies here. A little more than 12 percent sided with the foreign firms.

The survey was conducted by the chamber last week on 350 consumers.

What decided corporate image was the quality of goods, according to almost 70 percent of the respondents.

Another 12 percent said the breadth of the company weighs more on image, while almost 9 percent said the image was built on a consumer-focused management style.

“It is not easy to give consumers that vote of confidence in terms of corporate image, but once it is established, it can hugely weigh on their purchasing decisions,” said Lee Hyun-seok, head of the chamber’s research department.

Small numbers of respondents said they found corporate vision and long-term growth potential, along with ethical management methods, to be the biggest factors in corporate image.

South Korean companies, once in the hot seat for their reluctance to adhere to global management practices and corporate ethics, have over the past decade or so shown great improvement in these areas, industry watchers noted.

The chamber said that one interesting aspect of the survey concerned ethical management. Although it was among the smaller factors, a large number of consumers said they would buy goods from an ethical company, even if it offered the same products at the same or higher prices.

More than 90 percent said they would purchase from a more ethical corporation, while just 8 percent answered in the negative.

“Consumers initially did not seem to place too much emphasis on corporate ethics, mainly because they have no knowledge of which company is actually exercising ethical management practices, but once they do have that information, then they show a drastically increased inclination to purchase from an ethical company,” the chamber said.

Almost 90 percent of respondents felt that corporate Korea’s image had improved greatly compared to the past, with Samsung in first place in terms of good image.

LG was next, followed by Hyundai, Yuhan Kimberly and POSCO.

Consumers said their information on corporations was derived mainly from media reports, followed by the internet and advertisements.

Certifications of product quality were another factor that weighed heavily on purchasing decisions.

More than two-thirds of the consumers said they were affected by such certifications, while only around 3 percent said they were uninfluenced.

By Kim Ji-hyun  (jemmie@heraldcorp.com)
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