Coupang Dethrones E-Mart as Top Retail Brand in South Korea | Be Korea-savvy

Coupang Dethrones E-Mart as Top Retail Brand in South Korea

A Coupang logistics center in Seoul (Image courtesy of Yonhap)

A Coupang logistics center in Seoul (Image courtesy of Yonhap)

SEOUL, Apr. 1 (Korea Bizwire) – In a seismic shift for South Korea’s retail landscape, the e-commerce giant Coupang has surpassed the long-dominant E-Mart to become the country’s highest-ranked retail brand, according to the latest quarterly evaluation by brand consultancy BrandStock. 

Coupang achieved a brand stock top index (BSTI) score of 902.8, vaulting to 9th place overall in BrandStock’s assessment of the top 100 brands in South Korea for the first quarter of 2023. E-Mart, previously the retail leader, slipped to 12th. 

The milestone reflects Coupang’s ascendance as it reported its first annual profit of 617.4 billion won in 2022, just 13 years after its founding. Membership in its Wow loyalty program has swelled to 14 million from 9 million in 2021 as growth has rapidly accelerated.

In contrast, E-Mart’s sales fell behind Coupang to around 29 trillion won last year while posting an operating loss of 46.9 billion won on a consolidated basis – its first annual deficit as a public company amid faltering revenue and a perceived lack of fresh growth drivers. 

“With Coupang’s rise to become the top retail brand this quarter, we’ve witnessed a dramatic upheaval in the traditionally offline-centric domestic retail ecosystem,” BrandStock analysts said, predicting, “Online-focused retailers appear poised to become the new mainstream going forward.” 

Beyond e-commerce’s ascendancy, the evaluation highlighted resilience in pandemic-battered sectors like travel as consumer demand normalized. Korean Air jumped four spots to 8th overall with a BSTI score of 903.1, while Hanatour climbed three rungs to 28th as the impacts of COVID-19 faded. 

Streaming brands like YouTube (6th) and Netflix (20th) also saw major gains, reflecting the platforms’ surging popularity amid a global entertainment renaissance catalyzed by the pandemic’s disruptions.

The assessment underscored Samsung’s brand dominance, with the conglomerate’s flagship Galaxy smartphone line retaining the overall No. 1 ranking at 939.3 BSTI points. 

In contrast, major appliance brands like LG Whisen, Samsung Bespoke refrigerators and Winia tumbled amid economic headwinds and elevated inflationary pressures weighing on domestic consumption.

The BSTI model, developed by BrandStock’s virtual trading exchange, combines simulated equity pricing with periodic consumer surveys to quantify brand equity across over 1,000 corporate and product brands spanning 230 industries. 

Ashley Song ( 

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