U.K. Trade and Investment organized the British Lifestyle Showcase, a one-day exhibition at the Plaza Hotel in downtown Seoul today. The event was organized to promote U.K. businesses in the growing Korean market. Lord Livingston, U.K. minister for trade and investment, officiated the program. About 20 British cosmetics, fashion, food, drink, and consumer goods companies showcased their products at the event.
In his opening address, Lord Livingston highlighted the ever-strengthening relationship between Korea and Great Britain that has been prospering after the 2011 EU-South Korea Free Trade Agreement. He mentioned that there has been a 20 percent trade growth between the two nations. He also said that the sophisticated and fashion-conscious Korean consumer welcomes the best of British creativity, design, and style in fashion accessories, food, and consumer products. He also noted that the friendship between Korea and Great Britain is much deeper than trade, and hoped that new partners and new friendships would be formed on this occasion.
The event featured several interesting British companies that are planning to find distributors and explore the Korean market and a few successful ones, including Tangle Tweezer, Mark/Giusti, and Deeside. Tangle Tweezer sells an innovative de-tangling hairbrush that features layers designed to untangle hair. It is rumored to be Kate Middleton's favorite comb. The hairbrush is available in compact, aqua brush, and professional versions.
Another interesting company showcased was Mark/Giusti. The company is owned by two men who sell mostly men's fashion. Their specialty is incorporating old byzantine mosaic patterns from old houses and churches into their merchandise. The Korean market has been favorable to the company for its high-quality, practical, and not logo-oriented products, which complement the neat and organized nature of the Korean consumer. The company itself is oriented towards long-term business prospects, and is not just looking for a quick flash in the pan.
One surprising company was Deeside, a natural mineral water company. The company imports natural sparkling mineral water all the way from Scotland. The company representative said that the water is known in Korea because of a 2008 documentary produced by the Korea Broadcasting System (KBS) that claimed that Queen Elizabeth of England attributes her health and long life to drinking the water. The company is targeting Korean consumers by emphasizing its health benefits.
The Chief Executive Officer of the British Chamber of Commerce in Korea, Mr. David Lee, also took some time to chat with Business Korea during the event as well. He talked about the gradual shift in Korean consumers, who are beginning to emphasize individuality more strongly, and a rise in the popularity of male grooming products. He predicted that the Korean consumer trend to avoid big name brands will help the products at the British Lifestyle Showcase to garner success through their appealing designs and style.