SEOUL, Dec. 3 (Korea Bizwire) – As the popularity of Honey Butter Chips increases, tie-in sales are becoming more frequent. A grocer combined a box of sweet potatoes with a bag of the Korean-style potato chips. Some sellers bundled various cookies, chocolates and the chips into a plastic bag in an effort to sell other unpopular sweets. Hitejinro, one of the largest breweries in South Korea, bundled the chips with a 6-can pack of its Hite beer. These tactics have led some to refer to the sales strategies as “hostage marketing”.
As these abnormal phenomena are increasing, the Fair Trade Commission is investigating the sales. The Monopoly Regulation and Fair Trade Act currently bans tie-in sales, which force customers to buy popular products that are usually bundled with poor sellers. If the combination sales were intentionally planned by the manufacturer Haitai, an affiliate of Crown, the company could be held responsible for the illegal sales.
Haitai, however, insists that it is not responsible, since retailers themselves plan and execute the tie-in strategies. A company official indicated that the snack maker’s responsibility was limited to manufacturing the items and delivering them to retail stores. “The sales were not controlled by our company. As far as I understand, the commission is going to examine distributors, not the manufacturer,” an official added.
Honey Butter Chips have even appeared on eBay, the auction site of the American e-commerce giant. A set, consisting of three packs, is selling for US$56.75, equivalent to 63,000 won, a shocking markup given that the original cost was only 1,500 won per bag. As of December 2, a total of 11 sets, or 33 bags, had been sold out of the 14 available.
By Veronica Huh (firstname.lastname@example.org)