SEOUL, Mar. 19 (Korea Bizwire) — Despite the rising cost of living in South Korea, premium supermarkets are quickly gaining popularity among high-income earners, with a focus on quality over quantity.
The popularity of premium products as a recent retail industry trend has inspired a number of supermarket chains including E-Mart and Lotte Mart, as market saturation has prompted retailers to seek a new source of income.
Shinsegae first opened its high-end supermarket Star Super in 2003 at Samsung Tower Palace in Gangnam. Since then, a number of SSG Food Market shops have opened in Seoul and Busan, with the target market being the top 5 percent of income earners.
SSG Food Market offers products of the highest quality and has a sophisticated interior design to add to the chain’s premium brand.
As part of efforts to attract big spenders, E-Mart Inc, a retail unit of Shinsegae Group, has also launched a new supermarket chain called PK Market.
Modeled after traditional markets in the U.S. from the 1950s and 1960s, the new supermarket is positioned as a premium market that the company hopes will appeal to the general public, with a focus on the ‘grocerant’ experience where shoppers can have their food cooked for them on site.
With plans in talks for E-Mart to unify three of the premium markets under Shinsegae, Lotte is also following suit.
Some Lotte Mart branches have posted drastic sales increases after going premium.
The Dogok and Gongdeok locations posted 21.7 percent and 43.1 percent sales increases, respectively, after being renovated into premium food markets, with over half of the products sold being limited items previously found in flagship stores including a premium wine selection and fresh lobster and crab imported from Canada and Russia.
Targeting the top 30 percent of income earners, Lotte’s premium food markets hope to reach out to a wider audience, the company said.
The new retail trend draws a stark contrast, however, with the nation’s bleak economic prospects.
The unemployment rate for young people aged between 15 and 29 stood at 9.8 percent last month, while new job addition hit its lowest rate since January 2010, according to data from Statistics Korea.
Hyunsu Yim (firstname.lastname@example.org)