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[Power Korea] World is too small for GS Home Shopping

Capturing TV consumers’ hearts, Korean style

The Korea Herald is publishing a series of articles titled Global Brand as part of the first installment of Power Korea. Korea’s success story is a 60-year-old tale written by not one, but many who worked to build one of the world’s most powerful nations from the ashes of war. This Global Brand series is designed to honor those who made this Korean Dream come true. This is the 12th part of the Global Brand series. ― Ed.


In every Korean industry, there seems to be a “Psy” possessing the star power to wow an unsuspecting global audience.

GS Home Shopping, the first to introduce home shopping into this country, is the Psy of home shopping networks.

Armed with the confidence from its successful domestic operations, the company is now avidly wooing international customers based on its unique marketing style, which it calls “the Korean style” of doing things.

GS Home Shopping is leading the trend to offer a “combined” sales conduit consisting of not only television, but online shopping malls, catalogues and mobile channels.

“GS Home Shopping has two powerful engines. One is its home shopping knowhow, and the other is our partners at home who provide top-class goods and services,” says Huh Tae-soo, chief executive of GS Home Shopping. “Based on these engines, we guarantee success to our overseas partners, while at the same time catapulting our company to global status to achieve win-win results.” 
Huh Tae-soo. (Illustration by Park Gee-young)
Huh Tae-soo. (Illustration by Park Gee-young)

Huh, the youngest brother of GS Group head Huh Chang-soo, has proved that he is much more than a member of the founding family with his efforts and performance at GS Home Shopping.

On television, GS has managed to “localize” home shopping, which actually originates in the U.S.

Instead of focusing on conveying the exact functions and the outline of the products, which is usually the case in the U.S., GS thought to bring them closer to heart by showing what these products can do for the consumers in their daily lives.

In short, the company added values such as happiness and satisfaction to create the ultimate “Korean style” to shopping at home.

This way, consumers were able to see exactly how they could add more value with the products or services they were considering to purchase from the comfort of their own homes.

Entertainment was another element introduced by GS. Instead of woodenly talking on about the products on air, the hosts try to appear more natural and casual, as if chatting up a real audience on the set.

Text messages were the next step that allowed customers to take part of the “show,” along with so-called “brand programs” under which particular hosts were selected to sell products of a particular category.

These strategies have been effective elsewhere in the world, such as in Thailand and India, where hosts go lengths to demonstrate the products and have popular hosts selling selected items.

In terms of transactions, the company set a new record in the industry by logging more than 3 trillion won ($2.7 billion) in 2012, and was trailed by CJ O Shopping and Hyundai Home Shopping.

This kind of performance is not new to GS, having hit the 1 trillion won mark in 2001, and 2 trillion won in 2010.

And for 15 years, the company has been at the top of the market. The daily average number of orders GS receives reaches around 100,000, and up to 97 percent of the products aired get delivered within the day the order is placed.

India, Thailand, Vietnam, China and Indonesia

These are the five international markets that GS Home Shopping has successfully set foot in.

Aside from the sales that the company has been ramping up in these areas, another significant feature is that the on-site partners are all top-ranked in the industry.

Global Mediacom, for example, is Indonesia’s top media company that owns three national television stations, newspapers, magazines, advertising agencies and more.

MNC Shop, which is the joint company that GS created with Global Mediacom to operate in Indonesia, opened as the country’s first 24-hour home shopping channel last year.

GS focused on shipping only premium products and services to Indonesia, company officials said.

The live programs also were a change from the previous method relying on recorded footage, they added, along with the strengthened after-sales services that allowed customers to return their items at any time within the warranty period.

In India, GS’ partner is Network 18, a leading media firm, while in Thailand, it works with True Visions. In Vietnam, GS Home Shopping is tied with the SonKim Group, and in China, Huimai Shopping.

Top-quality partners

A home shopping empire could not be sustained if not for a wide assortment of products and services to choose from.

And through its strong global network, GS Home Shopping has secured such venues to provide world-class items such as Hurom juicers, Happycall kitchenware, Lock & Lock sealed ware, SAMPAR facial packs and HAAN digital foundation sets.

“GS Home Shopping has the ability to source only the best brands of each country,” said Lee Jin-young, team leader of GS Home Shopping’s overseas sales division.

From home, Samsung and LG provide to GS, while from abroad, Canon, Philips, Morgan, Patrice Breal, Naturtex and Ferrino are also among the long list of partners.

Fun with fashion

Fashion is another new element that GS Home Shopping has played with and succeeded in.

In November last year, GS Home Shopping joined hands with top fashion designer Son Jung-wan to develop a new indigenous brand, SJ WANI.

Son was placed in charge of product development and design, while GS put its distribution and marketing acumen to use.

The move proved to be a huge success, with SJ WANI recording up to 100 million won in sales per minute in its launching show.

The decision to collaborate with artists was made based on ideas from CEO Huh, who believed that fashion would be a key ingredient in home shopping.

Borrowing the name and quality of a top designer brand was one of the ideas that stemmed from such beliefs.

For the past two years, in terms of orders, its designer brands such as Morgan, Soul and KAAL E SUKTAE X Robo have rung up tens of billion of won worth of sales.

To follow the trend, GS Home Shopping has raised the amount of transactions it handled in the areas of lingerie, apparel and leisure sportswear for television to up to 28 percent last year, up from the previous 21 percent recorded in 2008.

What’s up next?

This is going to be a busy year for GS, which has plans to further branch out in the global market, based on the competitive products and services it has already developed for its consumers.

In the markets of India, Thailand and Indonesia, for instance, the company plans to increase its growth and profitability by expanding its scope to fashion and grooming.

In China, GS has noted the growing demand for kitchenware, and based on this observation, the company plans to focus on mostly sealed glassware and other goods used in the kitchen.

Huh believes there is always room for more growth, and the next decade will be GS’ chance to prove this philosophy.

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