Coway aims to attract 2 million customers in Southeast Asia by 2020

By Kim Da-sol
  • Published : Jan 28, 2019 - 16:17
  • Updated : Jan 30, 2019 - 09:53

South Korea’s leading water and air purifier maker Coway announced Monday a plan to attract 2 million customers in Southeast Asia by 2020, amid its high popularity in the overseas markets.

During an event celebrating the company’s achievement of securing 1 million units sold last year, Coway CEO Lee Hae-sun unveiled the company’s overseas expansion plan.

Coway CEO Lee Hae-sun (fourth from right) poses with Coway Malaysia executives and employees for a photo during an event held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Friday. (Coway)

“We appreciate Coway Malaysia’s achievement and effort to secure 1 million customers in Malaysia. The Malaysian market will play a key role for us to expand our business to other Southeast Asian countries and introduce localized products and brand marketing, to achieve a goal of attracting 2 million customers by 2020,” said Lee.

Since the company tapped into the Malaysian market in 2006, it has been consolidating its water purifier rental service base with its low-cost monthly lease service for water purifiers. As the country’s first rental scheme for the product, it made water purifiers much more accessible to local consumers, the company said.

In 2017, Coway’s Malaysian office recorded 207 billion won in sales, up 45 percent from the previous year. Last year's goal of 284 billion won is likely to be achived, the company said.

“Amid Coway’s stable brand image and popularity, we would expand our product lineup in Malaysia and introduce new products such as mattresses so customers can enjoy rental as well as care services,” Choi Ki-ryong, the managing director of Coway in Malaysia, told The Korea Herald during an interview at the company’s Kuala Lumpur office.

According to Choi, roughly 90 percent of all sales are made through rentals rather than outright purchases. The Malaysian corporation brings in 80 percent of Coway’s revenues from its four overseas branches in Malaysia, Thailand, the US and China.

The robust growth in Malaysia was attributable to the success of new sales and service system for the expansion of customer base, such as door-to-door sales channel, according to Choi.

“Malaysian market is expanding rapidly considering the population size and national income level. There is a huge potential in the market here, not only economically but the environment is very similar to that of Korea,” said Choi, adding that Malaysian rental market is growing in a similar pattern as it did in Korea.

Currently, Coway is the top water purifier company in the country with a comfortable lead ahead of its rivals. Its Korean rival Cuckoo entered the market in 2014 while SK Magic did in the last year. Chungho and LG are expected to enter in the near future.

“Despite intensifying competition, we have been recording high growth through our premiumization strategy. While a monthly rental fee is similar to that in Korea, we plan to offer customers a brand image of high-quality products and premium in-home servicing system,” said Choi.

Coway has about 12,300 locals working for the company. They include roughly 4,000 “Cody,” or Coway Ladies, who provide maintenance services, and health planners who make both maintenance and sales calls.

All consumers in Malaysia receive bimonthly visits from a Cody who checks the operation of their purifiers, cleans out filters and receives feedback about customer experience.

Coway said it will also intensify its CSR plans in Malaysia not only for brand awareness but to offer more employment opportunities for women in Malaysia.

“We are staging various campaigns including that supports women‘s employment here. Our service representative organization is comprised of mostly women with children. We care about giving them better welfare benefits and incentives,” said an official from Coway’s Malaysia unit.

According to the company, it also plans to offer drinking water facility system to some 1,000 households living in native regions in Malaysia until 2022. Up to 10,000 people are forecast to receive actual benefit from such a campaign, the company said.

By Kim Da-sol (