CheongKwanJang wins hearts of global retailers

SINGAPORE ― Global duty free operators were showing keen interest in CheongKwanJang’s booth at a trade fair held in this Asian city, Wednesday, seeking partnerships with the Korea Ginseng Corp. (KGC), producer of the world’s No. 1 ginseng brand.

KGC employees were busy talking with foreign buyers who were asking about the company’s products on display.

Apparently, Korean red ginseng is no longer strange exotic ingredient to the buyers participating in the 2018 Tax Free World Association (TFWA) World Exhibition & Conference held at the Marina Bay Expo and Convention Center from Sunday to Thursday.

The KGC has participated in this exhibition for two consecutive years to promote its signature CheongKwanJang brand, which is more than a century old.

“We signed deals with three major global duty free operators last year,” said Lee Heung-sil, head of the company’s new business team. “This year, we are scheduled to contact operators in the Asia-Pacific region.”

The TFWA has hosted the world’s largest exhibition for travel retailers twice a year in Singapore and Cannes.

This week’s event displayed 3,000 premium brands from 300 companies around the world.

Among booths for the health and wellness category, the largest one was allotted to KGC.

While introducing its best-selling products to foreigners at the event, the company told them a story about its red ginseng brand with pride in its manufacturing knowhow and craftsmanship.

It also hosted a “chill-out” party at night to serve its “ginseng cocktail” to officials from global duty free chains and experts in the industry.

“Unlike Koreans who tend to take bitter health supplements, non-Koreans are reluctant to try bitter herbal medicine,” Lee said. “They were afraid of red ginseng heating their bodies, but the cocktail dispelled their worries and received positive comments from participants.”

At the exhibition, the KGC especially promoted its CheongKwanJang Plus Series that has been sold exclusively at duty free stores overseas.

The strategic product line was first unveiled last year, when the brand made its debut at the TFWA exhibition.

With the concept of “family care,” the series targets a wide ranging age group.

Consisting of six types of red ginseng tablets made from six-year-old red ginseng and other natural functional ingredients required by each age group or gender, it was created to boost immunity and promote anti-oxidation.

Light and easy-to-carry packaging was used for the series to be an appropriate gift.

The KGC said it will speed up building business partnerships with global duty free operators, through continuous participation in TFWA exhibitions.

The company is seeking to take advantage of these opportunities to expand its presence in the international health supplement market beyond the Asia-Pacific region.

“After pioneering the health and wellness category in the duty free industry, we have set the goal of consolidating our lead in this sector,” Lee said. “We will meet duty free operators from the Middle East next year to expand in the region.”

Although the global health supplement market has grown by an average 6 percent annually, thanks to the trend of well-being, most international duty free operators have yet to fill their shelves with these products.

Amid fierce competition among luxury fashion, watch and jewelry brands for a share in the global travel retail market, CheongKwanJang has pioneered the health and wellness category in the duty free industry, which is still regarded as a blue ocean.

Industry officials said major duty free operators are shifting their focus to the new category, because most retailers fail to sell differentiated goods, after large companies aggressively took over smaller firms.