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Dongbu Daewoo takes on the world

Dongbu Daewoo takes on the world

Tech company entices global customers with its localized home appliances

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Published : 2013-12-04 19:54
Updated : 2013-12-04 19:54

Customers look at a refrigerator with a door lock in Dubai, UAE. (Dongbu Daewoo Electronics)
Embracing religious, cultural and regional aspects of global markets with its products, Dongbu Daewoo Electronics Corp. is making waves in the world’s home appliances market.

For instance, most Iranian women wash their hijab by hand, mostly because the delicate fabric can tear in a washing machine. Also, Muslim women don’t want their head scarves to be washed together with dirty laundry.

Considering these cultural factors, Dongbu Daewoo Electronics came up with the idea of adding a washing function for the hijab to a washing machine model.

The specialized laundry function, called the “Islamic rinse,” conforms to rules for rinsing the veil, such as rotating the contents for certain lengths of time in clockwise and counterclockwise directions, and preventing the fabric from being ripped apart. 

(from left) The wall-mounted front-load washing machine “Mini”, A washer with a laundry function for washing hijabs, A washer printed with Nazca lines (Dongbu Daewoo Electronics)
“The response from Iranian buyers was very positive when the product was first released in 2011, and I expect that it will sell well in other Middle Eastern countries,” said Chai Kyung-ah, general manager of the appliances firm’s public relations department.

A refrigerator with a lock for the doors is another hit in the Middle East, where water shortages are a major issue.

The company has sold 200,000 units of the fridge model each year in the region for the past 10 years, and the model comprises around 80 percent of the firms’ refrigerator exports to the Middle East, according to the company.

The lock prevents the refrigerator from being opened too many times, in effect helping to save energy and water.

Printing traditional patterns on appliances is another marketing measure deployed by the tech firm to appeal to local consumers.

In the first year of the release of washers printed with Nazca lines in Peru in 2011, sales increased by 60 percent from the previous year.

Credit for the idea of printing the traditional patterns goes to Kim Chang-jung, former head of the Peruvian office.

He was dispatched to Peru alone and sometimes had to travel into dense rainforests to meet customers.

“Despite the difficult business environment in the South American nation, the firm achieved outstanding growth by making efforts to better understand the Peruvian customers,” said Kim, who is now working at an office in Colombia.

“Trying to respect the culture of the local market and making contributions to the growth of local communities seem to have worked,” he said.

Following the success of the washing machine model with the traditional Incan patterns, the electronics firm released a series of washers with traditional symbols inspired by Machu Picchu, an Incan city, and Cusco, the capital of the Incan Empire, earlier this year.

The products are attractive to Peruvians who take pride in their Incan culture, according to the electronics firm.

Among many other home appliances, “Mini,” the world’s first mounted front-load washer, best caters to the needs of Korean households in which a baby is being raised, or single-person households in which laundry loads are often smaller.

The small wall-mounted washing machine, with a load capacity of 3 kg, saves time and helps reduce the cost of utility bills.

Since the laundry machine takes up little space, it is less intrusive in terms of design than those of a typical front-load 15-kg washer, according to the Korean company.

The firm is also trying to get a foothold in the Chinese market by releasing products specifically designed for Chinese consumers, such as the “Classe Cube,” a three-door fridge with a compartment for tea leaves.

It recently established its first overseas research and development team in Tianjin, China.

By Kim Young-won (

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