Companies see high-end lines as recipe for success

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Companies see high-end lines as recipe for success

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Chef Christopher Kostow, middle, and Eric Frechon on Samsung’s Club des Chefs make culinary delights using the company’s Chef Collection during the launch of the premium kitchen appliances last month in New York. LG Electronics’ LG Tone Plus bluetooth headset, right, was jointly developed with Harman Kardon. By LG Electronics, [JoongAng Ilbo]

A new trend is taking hold among leading Korean IT and consumer electronics manufacturers. Companies like LG and Samsung have been stepping up their marketing in collaboration with overseas luxury brands.

LG Electronics starting today will retail a Bluetooth headset called LG Tone Plus, which was developed with high-end U.S. audio company Harman Kardon.

LG Tone Plus is designed with a metallic feel and the person wearing it places it around the neck. The battery on the headset lasts 550 hours.

“We will publicize our leadership in the world’s Bluetooth wearable headset market by providing high quality sound with joint efforts with Harman Kardon,” said Heo Jae-churl, vice president of the Korea Sales and Marketing Division of LG Electronics.

LG recently has ramped up its marketing in collaboration with luxury brands and designers.

In September LG Electronics released a limited number of high-end washing machines designed by British graphic designer Holly Fulton, and earlier this year company released a premium kitchen appliance line called LG Studio produced with U.S. designer and TV personality Nate Berkus.

LG Studio is priced at $20,000 for a refrigerator, microwave oven and dishwasher and is sold in 200 stores in the North American market.

“The brand credibility goes up when slapping a luxury image on existing products and producing them as a limited edition, and this also contributes to brisk sales of other goods,” said an LG Electronics official who requested anonymity.

Sales of high-end branded products and spillover to other LG merchandise are expected to help raise the IT and consumer electronics manufacturer’s second-quarter performance.

“As the consumer production department’s product portfolio has been converted to high value, LG Electronics’ operating profit in the second quarter is expected to increase 9.6 percent [year-on-year],” said Park Kang-ho, Daishin Securities analyst.

Samsung Electronics also has targeted the luxury consumer goods market hoping to be the global No.1 in the industry next year.

Instead of collaboration, Samsung plans to concentrate on marketing and promotion.

“Instead of working with overseas luxury brands on product designs and production, we are focused on increasing joint collaboration through advertising and events, while the product itself is created by us,” said a Samsung Electronic official.

Such a marketing effort is reflected in the Chef Collection, which Samsung introduced in March. This is a premium kitchen appliance line that includes a refrigerator, oven, microwave and dishwashers. Chef Collection became a hot topic as chef Michel Troisgros, who received three stars from the Michelin Guides, promoted the kitchen appliance package.

The Chef Collection retails between 5.9 million won and 7.4 million won. In the past three months since its release, it has sold more than 5,000 appliances.

The expansion of the Chef Collection in the global market has been smooth as well.

“The response to the Chef Collection was great in Africa, which has a demand for premium home appliances,” said Yoon Boo-keun, Samsung Electronics president of consumer electronics, during a meeting with reporters Wednesday at the company’s headquarters in Seocho, southern Seoul.

“The premium market is important for Samsung and LG and it is strategically meaningful in solidifying the companies’ image as global companies,” said Song Jae-yong, a professor of business management at Seoul National University. “For the time being, collaboration with overseas high end brands and designers will continue.”

BY lee so-ah [ojlee82@joongang.co.kr]


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