Hyundai outlet takes a new tack

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Hyundai outlet takes a new tack

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The Hyundai City Outlet in the Dongdaemun fashion district is targeting Chinese tourists with specialty foods, cosmetics and K-pop products. [HYUNDAI DEPARTMENT STORE]

Hyundai Department Store on Friday launched a premium outlet in Dongdaemun in central Seoul, home to many outlets such as Migliore, Lotte Fitin and Doota.

With the new outlet, Hyundai is offering unique stores and services in hopes of the youke, or Chinese tourists, who flock to the area, as well as Koreans who are increasingly shopping online.

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The Binggrae banana-flavored milk store. [HYUNDAI DEPARTMENT STORE]

Hyundai Department Store Group said the new Hyundai City Outlet Dongdaemun occupies a nine-story, 37,663-square-meter (405,401-square-foot) building located in the popular shopping district. Hyundai spent 20 billion won ($16.7 million) decorating the interior of the new outlet like a premium department store.

The new outlet includes shops selling popular foods and beverages and a one-stop beauty section that allow customers to actually try out various products and to have fun while shopping.

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The Hyundai City Outlet in the Dongdaemun fashion district is targeting Chinese tourists with specialty foods, cosmetics and K-pop products. [HYUNDAI DEPARTMENT STORE]

Additionally, the company pulled out all the stops to attract as many youke as possible by including a shop specializing in banana-flavored milk shop and a store selling products from YG Entertainment, one of Korea’s big three entertainment companies and home to musicians like Big Bang and 2NE1.

The JoongAng Ilbo took a tour of the outlet the day before the official opening and found the banana-flavored milk flagship store located in the basement especially unique. The shop offers soft-serve ice cream, lattes and baked goods, all made using the iconic banana-flavored milk from Binggrae, which is very popular among Chinese tourists.

“We have exported 15 billion won worth of our banana-flavored milk to China last year,” said a representative of Binggrae. “The store will be a tourist attraction for youke.” In fact, there were already many Chinese tourists lined up in front of the store on Thursday to take pictures with the oversized model of a banana milk bottle.

Furthermore, Hatai Confectionary and Foods opened up shop right next to the banana milk store with a store called Haitairo. The store fries up potatoes in the shop to serve its famous Honey Butter Chips.

Meanwhile, YG Zone will open on Tuesday for the K-pop fans. The 132-square-meter store will choose a different artist every month and sell special merchandise related to the artist. The store chose boy group Winner as this month’s artist, and will sell notebooks, t-shirts and limited-edition albums. The boy group was named Rookie of the Year at last year’s Golden Disc Awards.

International sensation Big Bang will be the featured artist next month. “We plan to launch figures and special products for artists such as Psy, 2NE1 and more,” said at representative for Hyundai Department Store.

Hyundai chose to hone in on youke in order to differentiate itself from other outlets. The new outlet has special help desks that offer tax refunds at shipping stores that allow customers to send purchased goods to China using UPS.

Hyundai said it hopes to attract more than 4 million foreign tourists to the store every year.

Moreover, Hyundai is targeting local customers interested in showrooming, or the practice of visiting a store to check out products before making purchases online.

In particular, a store in the basement sells the same products that are available through the Hyundai Home Shopping TV channel as well as from social commerce company Wemakeprice.

Through this store, Hyundai is trying to change the concept of outlets and give customers the chance to have hands-on experiences with products, in order to compete with the rapidly expanding online retail market in Korea.

“The young generation does prefer shopping online,” said Kim Young-tae, CEO of Hyundai Department Store. “However, online shops cannot offer what outlets can, which is allowing family members to gather together and to enjoy shopping and eating.”

The local outlet market size is expected to grow to 15 trillion won this year, but the competition is getting fiercer. There are more than 20 outlet stores, including those operated by Lotte, Hyundai and E-Land, in downtown Seoul alone.

Hyundai City Outlet said its sales goal for this year is 200 billion won, or 13.3 million customers.

BY LEE HYUN-TAEK [kim.youngnam@joongang.co.kr]

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