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Korean firms open a digital ‘silk road’

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May 08,2005
LG Electronics and Samsung Electronics are opening up something of a digital silk road in Central Asia, as their brands of digital appliances are market leaders in countries such as Russia, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan. A decade after it first entered the Kazakhstan market in 1994, LG Electronics grabbed the leading market share there in the markets for major household appliances such as air conditioners, vacuum cleaners and microwave ovens. In Uzbekistan, LG is tops in six product categories, holding more than a 50 percent share of the market in each item. In Russia, demand for Korean mobile phones is rising. Samsung Electronics said yesterday that it sold 1.8 million handsets in Russia in the first quarter of this year, and that its cumulative sales of mobile phones in the country have now exceeded 10 million. According to a recent report released by a Russian market research firm, Samsung has been atop the mobile phone market there since the first quarter of last year. The companies have also been catering to the local cultures. Samsung, in Russia, has created the Samsung-Tolstoy Literature Award and sponsors the Bolshoi Opera Theater. LG Electronics, in Kazakhstan, offers the first karaoke players that support the local language, and organized a month-long karaoke festival last year. Other culture marketing has led to events like the LG Chamber Music Festival and LG Scholarship Quiz. In March, the company hosted a Korean film festival in Kazakhstan; in Uzbekistan it is an official sponsor of the country’s soccer association. “We have succeeded in making LG a well-known nationwide brand,” said Choi Young-gyu, head of LG’s Kazakhstan subsidiary. “We will now focus on developing a premium brand image and on new markets such as Turkmenistan and Kyrgyztan. This year, we expect sales in Central Asia to increase by 50 percent.” by Wohn Dong-hee


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