By Don Southerton, BCW Editor
With work that centers on Korea-facing business, I have some deep insights into the extent and the role that South Korean companies play as top foreign investors in the United States. The many Korean brands with significant US investment include the familiar Hyundai, Kia, Samsung, and LG, along with Hankook and Hyosung (both car tire related), Doosan (Bobcat), Translead (trailers), Rotem (trains) MOBIS (auto parts), Innocean (marketing) and Forever 21 (apparel).
Surprising to many is that ever increasingly my “Korea work” takes place here in America and globally, not in Seoul. I then explain that along with thousands of others I have benefited from the growing popularity of Korean brands. I expect this trend to increase with the EU and KORUS FTA (Free Trade Agreements).
Candidly, I feel the true impact of South Korea interests in the U.S. is overlooked when considering the magnitude of Foreign Direct Investment, employment opportunities, and product appeal across America—although the job side is most often promoted. By this I mean what is usually missed is “why” Korean firms continue to invest billions of dollars in facilities, people, and marketing in the U.S.
Why? It’s a win-win. Frankly, Korean products sell. In other words, Korean brands have invested heavily in the U.S. market and continue to expand because they see significant opportunities for growth. Meanwhile, the American consumer finds products of high value and quality along with a trendy design.
And as a closing thought, I have seen Korean brands build upon themselves. By this I mean a Kia car owner might shop at Forever 21, while toting a Samsung Galaxy smartphone with plans for a K BBQ lunch. Not to mention "Liking" Gangnam Style on TubeTube, and if a golfer and using Titleist balls, the brand in now owned by a Korean company.
Questions, Comments, Feedback? I'd be interested in your thoughts. Just email me.
As always, if you or your company has need for my consultancy, please let me know.