Thanks to a growing preference for beers with thick and rich flavors among Koreans, import beers have nearly caught up with Korean beers this summer. According to BGF Retail, import beers accounted for 43 percent of beer sales at CU convenience stores in July and Aug. During the same period, domestic beers stood at 57 percent. In the same period of last year, sales of domestic beers outnumbered import beers 7 to 3.
Sales of import beers have soared as a malt beer fever has gripped the nation. The malt beer is made from 100 percent barley. The beer market, represented by larger, has moved to 100 percent malt beer which is a kind of lager beer but a little heavier. Demand for thick ale is also rising among beer maniacs.
Import beer sales at CU convenience stores rose 33.6 percent in 2013 and 40.6 percent in 2014, respectively. Lately, the curve became sharper. From Jan. to Aug. of this year, they jumped 84.5 percent. By contrast, the growth of domestic beer sales slowed down, with 11 percent in 2013 and 4.6 percent in 2014. This year, it fell 0.1 percent for the first time. Other convenience stores have seen sales of beer soar as well.
In GS25, the sales ratios of domestic beer and import beer stood at 6 to 4 in July and Aug. this year. During the same period last year, the score was 8 to 2. At e-Mart stores, the ratios are 60.5 percent and 39.5 percent during the same period. The gap decreased from last year, when they were 66.7 percent and 33.3 percent. The percentages did not change considerably, since a change in consumer preferences for beers comes more slowly to e-Mart stores than convenience stores. But in terms of sales growth, import beer sales grew 24.6 percent, while domestic beer sales fell 4.6 percent in the same period.
It is said that this import beer fever was fueled by a craze for thick beers and the conception that Korean beers are not tasty. Lately, domestic beer companies are launching new upgraded products in terms of taste and flavor.
An increase in overseas travel thanks to low-cost airliners also contributed to a variation in consumer preferences for beers, according to market experts. Growing demand for beers enjoyed abroad in the Korean market prompted distributors to hold several import beer promotions. This has also had an impact on the domestic beer market. Convenience stores and big retail chain stores are meeting customer needs by selling a wide array of import beers such as those from Japan, Australia, the Netherlands, and the Czech Republic.