Home shopping to celebrate 10th birthdayNext month, TV home shopping channels celebrate 10 years of transforming the way Koreans spend their cash.
Home shopping opened for business in August 1995 with two companies, 39 Shopping (currently CJ Home Shopping) and Korea Home Shopping (currently GS Home Shopping). NS, Hyundai and Woori joined them in 2001.
Since then, sales have jumped to about 4 trillion won ($3.9 billion) last year, from 33.5 billion won in 1996. The number of products sold on TV shopping channels has surged, and a new kind of celebrity, the home shopping host, has emerged.
For small and medium companies, home shopping was a revelation. Through the distribution channel offered by home shopping, infrared ovens, juicers, airtight containers and steam cleaners all became big hits.
Mostly budget items were sold in the early stages, but from 2000, designer label clothes, including Andre Kim, started appearing on home shopping channels.
In a sign of home shopping’s growing clout, more recently, digital gadgets, like MP3 players and digital cameras, are made available on home shopping channels before retail outlets.
Home shopping channels have become more sophisticated in their marketing methods: Shopping hosts present products using three-dimensional graphics, and consumers will be able to search for products using just their TV remote controls.
But home shopping has also had its downsides. Homemakers became addicted to shopping on television, and at one point, 60 to 70 percent of products were being returned. As a result, home shopping channels came in for criticism in some quarters for its excessive hard-sell techniques.
More troublesome is that sales of TV home shopping have plateaued since topping 4 trillion won in 2002.
“Sales are not increasing much because the cable TV market is saturated and Internet shopping malls have emerged as new competitors,” said Kim Jin-hyeok of Samsung Economic Research Institute.
In a bid to arrest this trend, home shopping companies are heading abroad, with GS Home Shopping, CJ Home Shopping, and Hyundai Home Shopping now broadcasting in parts of China.
by Yum Tae-jung, Park Sung-ha
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