SEOUL, May 10 (Korea Bizwire) – The ‘silent majority’ among consumers are beginning to raise their voices on issues related to their own interests.
Experts argue that the recent change in consumer behavior may become a major variable in shaping public opinion, which so far has been led by the government and other interest groups.
The recent controversy surrounding Lotte Mart’s affordable fried chicken and large-sized shopping malls has sparked an unexpected consumer action to advance their demands and change public opinion.
Lotte Mart, the discount store chain of South Korean retail giant Lotte, re-introduced Tongkeun (which means ‘Big Bucket’) Chicken, nine years after it was shut down after being criticized by politicians and public opinion in 2010.
Tongkeun Chicken, which offered prices only one-third of the average price at other chicken franchises, gained massive popularity until it was stopped by harsh criticism that large were conglomerates were once again attempting to deprive small business owners of their survival.
This time, however, public opinion is edging towards supporting the return of Tongkeun Chicken.
The Korea Franchise Association raised concern recently that Lotte Mart’s continued discount sale of the chicken may threaten the survival of small business owners. In contrast, a majority of consumers supported the new product.
With the recent decision among major chicken franchises to raise the average price of chicken to 20,000 won (US$16), consumers welcomed Tongkeun Chicken, which costs only 5,000 won.
The issue surrounding plans to establish a new Starfield shopping mall complex in Changwon, South Gyeongsang Province is also a notable example of consumers actively raising their voices.
Starfield Changwon is a project led by Shinsegae Group to set up a major shopping mall complex in the Gyeongsang region.
The plan is to create a shopping mall and theme park to offer customers a satisfactory shopping experience and entertainment as one of Gyeongsang’s signature landmarks.
The project has been strongly opposed by local business owners who claim that the new complex will devastate the local market economy.
Consumers, on the other hand, formed advocacy groups in support of the new Starfield project, holding regular press conferences to change public opinion.
The supporters also participated in a town hall meeting held recently to discuss the project’s way ahead, actively advancing their point of view.
“To protect small businesses, we need to bring more people to Changwon,” they said.
“The new Starfield complex will attract people from other regions to come and contribute to Changwon’s local economy.”
The project to build a new Lotte Shopping Mall in Seoul’s Mapo District, a problem that has been drifting for six years due to government inaction, has prompted angry local residents to gather and raise their voices in support of the new mall by collecting signatures and pressuring Seoul authorities.
“Consumers, previously sidelined from the decision-making process, are now making a stand to lead public opinion by actively expressing their demands on issues related to their own interests,” said a source familiar with the distribution industry.
“Consumers are increasingly becoming a new factor in charge of shaping public opinion.”
H. M. Kang (firstname.lastname@example.org)