All around the world, more people are incorporating elements of health, self-actualization, experience and mindfulness into their daily lives. As more and more people pay attention to their well-being, they increasingly want to keep up with their healthy habits when they travel. A growing segment of travellers is taking trips specifically found on maintaining and improving their personal health and well-being. This shift is driving the growth of lifestyle tourism. Although less than half of the nations in the Asia Pacific region promote wellness on their national tourism websites, this number has grown more than 60% over the last 5 years (13-21 countries)1. Apart from the popularity of their beauty and traditional bathhouses in South Korea, the Jeju Island project is expanding from its traditional medical tourism focus to add wellness amenities and services.
4 in 10 millennials said that their main motivation for their most recent holiday was to reduce stress – Expedia survey
How to pave the way to market entry?
Firstly, brands must acknowledge Korea’s homogeneous but unique culture. Throughout its history, Korea has been able to maintain its ethnic and cultural identity. People generally assume that global marketers such as Coca Cola and McDonalds pursue a standardized global marketing strategy – the truth is that many of their sub-components such as pricing and advertising are localized. Despite Korea’s strong collectivistic culture, individualism (or better known as kaesung) is becoming more prevalent in recent times. A person’s individuality was equated as selfishness in Korea’s culture but not anymore. Korea’s individualistic and collectivistic tendencies do not fall neatly in either category but seems to be both simultaneously. Brands must take into consideration Korea’s “we-me” culture when strategizing their marketing plans.
For hotel, spa and travel operators seeking presence online in this Korean market, being aware of the tools they use to research trips is critical. It is imperative that your presence be known on Naver platform to allow Korean tourists to know you better as they research, when on location and when they need to stay in touch. We recommend having a Naver blog to represent your ‘brand-stake’ in the market. Coordinate and synchronize your messaging in Korean on Instagram and Kakao Story. Having Korean language social media strategy will not only grow your brand asset but also as a platform to drive new revenue, execute promotions and staying connected with your Korean consumers.
How to capture the interest of your target audience in Korea?
1. Optimizing SEO Strategies
- Naver Blog
South Korean users spend 50% of their time reading blogs daily – for online travel research, product reviews, food culture and more. Having a Naver Blog improves search rankings because Naver Search favours content on its own platform. This is a critical step for businesses looking to optimize their SEO strategies. Through Naver Blog’s public page, companies can create a comprehensive profile that spells out a company introduction, its history, products, services and awards. It has various customization features that are designed to interact and engage with consumers and for promotional content. Businesses looking to penetrate the market must consider the unique role of Naver Blog in their marketing plans.
2. Leveraging on Paid Searches
- Naver Keyword Ads
South Korea’s search engine is dominated by Naver, a local player in the industry. Naver is different from Google as it serves as a web portal than a mere search engine. Its SERP and search algorithm is built upon the Korean language which gives it a huge advantage locally. Naver Ads related keyword recommendations are much more accurate but only offers two languages (English and Korean) for keywords. The decision on where to focus on your paid search resources is greatly dependent on your industry, budget, goals and other factors unique to your business.
3. Creating Localized Content to Deepen Engagement on Social Media Platforms
- Instagram (Korean emotions, Korean #hashtags)
According to a recent survey in Korea, time spent on Instagram amounted to a combined total of 2.6 billion minutes for all respondents – a 73% increase from a year before. Instagram’s on-year growth in Korea is stronger than that of other social media apps such as Facebook and Twitter. It is particularly popular among the age group ranging from teens to those in their 30s. While most social media services are about building relationships, Instagram allows users to figure out what is trending among their peers. A survey done by Expedia found that two-thirds of those interviewed aged between 18-34 said that “Instagrammability” of a location is the most important factor when booking a holiday.
While Instagram is popular among the younger users (Gen-Z and Millennials) in Korea, those in their 40s and 50s prefer Korea’s own messenger app like KakaoTalk. It started as a free call and messaging app just like WhatsApp but since it is widely used in Korea, it has evolved to include other services such as banking, taxi and music apps. One of the pull factors of Kakao Talk lies in its ultra-cute emoticons called “Kakao Talk Friend”. Another reason for its popularity is Kakao Story – the Korean version of Instagram which is favoured by Korean travellers and travel influencers. When planning trips, most Koreans seek well-regarded influencers for ideas on where to visit. Kakao Talk is a great combination of convenience and enjoyable experience that Koreans adore.
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While Korea seems like a difficult market to penetrate and its seemingly paradoxical inclination towards something familiar but different, it is still possible with the right planning. At 90 Degrees Asia, we not only manage your blog and ad campaigns, but we also provide customer services such as answering queries and appointment setting in the Korean Language. Get in touch with our digital marketing specialists here to find out how we can help you achieve your marketing goals.
Content Strategist in Asia Pacific digital marketing. She practices yoga in her free time.