Korean goods have a better image in the EU after FTA

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Korean goods have a better image in the EU after FTA

Korean-made consumer goods have good reputations among Europeans, according to a report by the Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency (Kotra) on Monday. European consumers say they are willing to purchase Korean cosmetics and food and beverage items at prices similar to those made in the United States, Japan and Germany.

Kotra surveyed 229 consumers from 19 different European countries for two months from January this year and asked how much they would pay for products from the U.S., Japan, Germany and China if Korean-made products were priced at 100 units. For cosmetics, participants responded 107.2 for the U.S. product, 104.8 for the Japanese, 112.3 for the German and 59.9 for the Chinese. For food and beverages, they answered 100.5 (U.S.), 114.2 (Japan), 112.8 (German) and 68.3 (China).

While European consumers considered Chinese products to be worth less, Korean products didn’t have much of a gap with those from other developed countries. The change in perception about Korean consumer goods is partly due to the free trade agreement (FTA) that took effect in 2011 and the so-called Korean Wave of cultural content that started to penetrate Europe’s culture and entertainment industry, Kotra said.

In the survey, 58.6 percent of respondents said they had more chances to know about Korean products after the Korea-EU FTA, and 46 percent said they actually use Korean products more. Those who answered they are more accustomed to Korean products because of the Korean Wave was 56.2 percent.

Still, Korea’s major export goods, such as automobiles and home appliances, were still rated lower than European- or Japan-made products. Placing the price of Korean automobiles at 100, German products were rated at 145.8 and Japanese at 121.9. In the home appliances business, European consumers were willing to pay more for German and Japanese products, at 120.1 and 115.7, respectively.

Korean products received good marks in terms of design, quality and actual performance but were rated relatively lower in terms of brand awareness and after-sales service.

“It is positive news that Korean-made consumer goods are gaining good reputations in Europe,” said Yang Eun-young, a director at Kotra. “However we need continuous marketing of national brands and also improvement in after-sales service.”

In terms of future prospects, the agency picked cosmetics, food and beverages as the most promising items for export to Europe. Mid- to low-priced cosmetics are gaining ground. The agency also forecast medicine and medical supplies will be a growing market in Europe due its aging society and the technical edge of Korean companies.

BY KIM JEE-HEE [kim.jeehee@joongang.co.kr]
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