SEOUL, Sept. 21 (Korea Bizwire) – Distrust generated by scandals over pesticide-riddled eggs, the supposed presence of harmful chemical substances in women’s sanitary pads and hazardous humidifier disinfectants has caused more Koreans to look abroad for solutions to everyday needs.
The preference for goods that come with the “Western Advanced Nation” tag that oft emerges in times of general uncertainty is this time around slightly tinged with irony, as a prominent offender in the humidifier scandal was U.K.-based Reckitt Benckiser, and the local pesticide egg scandal was preceded by reports out of the European Union of insecticide-contaminated eggs.
Regardless, old habits die hard and deep-rooted beliefs never truly die, which may in part explain the rise in overseas direct purchasing habits on SK Planet’s e-commerce web platform 11st that were disclosed to media outlets on September 20.
Overseas direct purchasing entails the process in which consumers – usually motivated by the exorbitant prices of imported products – purchase foreign brand goods directly from the relevant online retail platforms and arrange for them to be delivered via package delivery at lower cost.
Taking a look at yearly sales figures from September to September, 11st found that the numbers for its beauty and health category goods (food products, cosmetics, detergents) increased from 2014-2015 to 2015-2016 by 124 percent, and 2016-2017 by 78 percent.
The numbers for home and life category goods (sanitary pads, laundry detergent, household products) also jumped by 65 percent from 2016-2017.
Similar patterns were observed at rival e-commerce platforms Gmarket and G9 (both owned by eBay Korea).
In comparison to sales of food and health products in 2014, Gmarket reported increases of 23 and 365 percent in 2015 and 2016.
Likewise, G9 reported increases, though far more astronomical, of 631 and 1,819 percent in 2015 and 2016.
Gmarket also saw sales of baby products explode by 865 percent from 2014-2015.
A 11st representative pointed out that purchases of beauty and health category products through overseas direct purchasing had risen relatively significantly, adding, “Popular brands and goods like sanitary pads, detergents and nutritional products that have passed foreign inspections make up a large part of the sales.”
Regarding the website’s surge in sales through overseas direct purchasing, the rep explained that the reasons for the phenomenon are that foreign products offer more competitive pricing compared to domestic counterparts and that Korean consumers take solace in the fact that foreign products have a wider user base.