The secret to the worldwide success of Shin Ramyun, Nongshim’s signature red-hot spicy instant noodles, lies in the company’s unwavering determination to stick to its original flavor, according to Park Jun, the chief executive of noodle maker Nongshim.
“My belief is that what is most Korean is the most global,” Park said in an interview with The Korea Herald. “Sometimes you lose the quintessential characteristics of the product by following local trends or characteristics. But the tongue-achingly hot spiciness of Shin Ramyun is what makes the noodle so unique and different from any other in the world,” he said.
|Nongshim CEO Park Jun|
Park noted that even in the U.S. or South America, consumers love Shin Ramyun for what it is, something that the firm had not initially counted on when it first entered those markets. The spicy noodles can now be seen in any given supermarket in the U.S., South America, Asia and even on the top of the Jungfrau, one of the main summits of the Swiss Alps.
On the back of such universal demand, Shin Ramyun posted $110 million (111.2 billion won) in overseas sales for the first half of this year. The figure is almost half of Nongshim’s H1 sales.
Park said that another key to the success was the company’s plan to pursue long-term progress.
“We have positioned Shin Ramyun as a premium product in China, Southeast Asia and Africa, where noodles are regarded as low-involvement items, cheap and easy to get. We did not change the price according to local circumstances. We had to wait for people to accept our positioning, and it paid off,” Park said.
But sticking to its original, authentic flavor does not mean ignoring the local culture. In order to win over the Muslim population, Shin Ramyun gained halal accreditation from Malaysian institute Jakim last year, after establishing a production facility that suited Islamic rules for halal food in Busan in 2011.
And Nongshim is planning more. The company hopes Shin Ramyun will gross 250 billion won in sales from 100 countries this year.
“We have just opened a branch in Australia. We will expand our market in China, the U.S. and Japan. We still have smaller but significant markets in Toronto, Shikoku and Nagoya. What about Niger? We still have a lot to do,” Park said.
Nongshim’s role model is the world’s No. 1 food maker Nestle.
“Nongshim makes food and the whole world eats it: That’s our vision,” Park said.
By Bae Ji-sook (firstname.lastname@example.org)