Nongshim, Korea’s leading instant noodle producer, said on Oct. 16 that its sales in China have increased 40 times in 20 years since its entry into the huge market. Sales of Shin Ramen, the company’s flagship noodle, have grown rapidly, riding on the back of its differentiation strategy and marketing efforts. The company says the Nongshim Shin Ramen Cup World Go Championship, which marks its 20th anniversary this year, has also played a big role.
"Nongshim China posted US$7 million in sales in 1999, its first year of business in China. It recorded about US$130 million in sales in the first half of this year and is en route to achieving US$280 million in sales by year’s end,” a Nongshim official said.
"Cumulative sales since the foundation of Nongshim China exceeded US$2 billion in the first half of this year. Nongshim China has become Nongshim’s first overseas subsidiary to reach the milestone of US$2 billion in sales," the official said. In the first half of this year, Nongshim China’s sales grew 17% year on year.
Nongshim's business operation in China began in 1996 when its production facility in Shanghai began to roll out products. Back then, Nongshim set up a joint venture with a Taiwanese company, but acquired the Taiwanese company’s stake in 1998 and has run the company independently since 1999. At the same time, Nongshim’s Qingdao plant (1998) and Shenyang plant went into operation in 1998 and 2000, respectively.
Nongshim’s "two-track strategy" focusing on products and marketing has been vital to Nongshim's success in China, the world's largest market. The company has stuck to a principle that Shin Ramen selling in China should be as spicy as in Korea and placed a top priority on local cultures and trends in ads and marketing. Nongshim also brought China a Korean culture of putting a coil of noodles into boiling water to cook it. In China, people generally put a coil of noodles and a soup base into a bowl and put hot water into the bowl and wait for the noodles to cook. Nongshim competed with Chinese ramen makers through the Korean ramen recipe.
In the meantime, the Nongshim Shin Ramen Cup World Go Championship, which has significantly contributed to Nongshim's successful business in China, kicked off in Beijing on October 15. Top Korean players such as Lee Se-dol and Park Jung-hwan will have uncompromising matches with those from China and Japan in the go championship which marks its 20th anniversary this year while touring Beijing, Busan and Shanghai. Nongshim has sought to raise Chinese people’s awareness of Nongshim and the brand name of Shin Ramen at the same time by drawing attention from Chinese people famous for their love of go game since moving into China.