SEOUL, Korea, April 12, 2014 (Korea Bizwire) – April 14 is the day Korea’s singles try to avoid going out as much as possible. Following Valentine’s Day on February 14, most East Asians observe White Day on March 14 on which boys and men give chocolate gifts to girls and women in return for the sweet presents received a month ago.
Koreans went several steps further, making every 14th day of the month henceforth something romantic, including Rose Day (May 14), Kiss Day (June 14), and Ring Day (July 14).
The 14th day of April is kind of different in that it is designated as Black Day for those singles who have not found their partners. As a show of solidarity, they come out with black clothes and order food and drink in black color like noodles in black bean sauce and black coffee.
Some singles are reluctant to wear black clothes to advertise their relationship status and instead decide to stay home for the whole day.
Of course, there are those who reject these designations outright calling them as a ridiculous marketing ploy. But some others take advantage of the occasions to get discounts from special offers at restaurants. Still others find their soul mates in social dating events.
For example, a social dating service operator “i-um” (meaning connection in Korean) will hold on upcoming April 14 an event for single men and women in which they could mingle and find potential date partners.
In the event, a total of 32 men and women participants in their 20s and 30s will make Chinese dishes including the black bean sauce noodles and engage in a variety of games. The same company will sponsor another event called “Single Run” on April 26 at Seoul Grand Park in the south of Seoul.
The 5K run event is not really about how fast you run, but more about having fun while running, including running in pairs in some intervals and running backward if you don’t find a partner.
Jajangmyeon on Black Day
In addition to dating service operators, restaurants are also excited about the prospect of selling a lot of black bean sauce noodles, or Jajangmyeon in Korean, on Black Day. According to an estimate, an average of 1.5 million bowls of Jajangmyeon is sold in a day in Korea. Maybe Chinese restaurant owners expect that the figure would triple on Black Day.
China Factory, a Chinese franchise restaurant operated by CJ Foodville, will offer a bowl of Jajangmyeon for free to any customer who orders dishes of sweet and sour pork with black rice vinegar and black pepper shrimp until April 20.
The restaurant chain has been doing the same marketing event since 2011 and the sales growth rate on Black Day has been over 140 percent from the daily average.
On Black Day the sales of Jajangmyeon from its convenience store chains have increased significantly, according to GS25, a major 24-7 convenience store brand in the nation. GS25 said its revenue for the Chinese-style black noodles on April 14 Black Day soared 32.6, 39.2, and 47.1 percent, respectively, over the years of 2011, 2012 and 2013.
Creative marketing campaigns to boost the sales for the “golden marketing period” have been staged across the nation. One of the most popular strategies for boosting sales were related to such marketing events as ones highlighting Black Day-specific messages: “Don’t be sorry for yourself just because you’re still a single” for instance.
In this vein, GS25 convenience stores are planning to hold a special promotional campaign called “Completely forget [your lonely situation] just like you get completely blacked out” in the run-up to this special day for the year.
Convenience stores are also offering special promotions not to miss the golden opportunity. GS25 convenience store chain will offer discounts on 25 food and beverage items including black bean sauce ramens, chocolates, and canned coffees.
Japaghetti, one of the most popular instant noodle brands manufactured by Nongshim Co., will also offer a special promotion this year following last year’s big success in the Black Day event. Japaghetti is a portmanteau of two words jajangmyeon and spaghetti.
In addition to the romantic-sounding days such as Rose Day and Kiss Day, there are several other special days in Korea to promote certain product items. Some of the most prominent include Pork Belly Day (March 3) and Tuna Day (March 7), designated by the National Livestock Cooperatives Federation and the Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries, respectively.
The effect of so-called day marketing is surprisingly visible. For five days from February 27 to March 3, the sales of pork belly at E-Mart stores have increased 36.7 percent from the same period a year ago. This is up 138 percent from a month ago.
There are many other special days up to 40 in total, including Cucumber Day on May 2 and Chicken Day on September 9. Some may say these are totally useless exercise to benefit no one except merchants. But there are some people out there who may benefit, including those singles who find their better halves.
It remains to be seen how this year’s Black Day will fare for Korea’s retailers and restaurant operators, as well as for lonely souls.
Written by Lina Jang (firstname.lastname@example.org)