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Starbucks pressing Lotte, CJ


By Kim Jae-heun

Lotte Confectionery CEO Min Myung-ki
Lotte Confectionery CEO Min Myung-ki
Starbucks Korea's consecutive successes with collectible merchandise giveaways has prompted many local firms to follow suit in hopes of generating more sales.

Lotte Confectionery plans to reward customers by passing out small suitcases manufactured in collaboration with U.S. camping brand CHUMS. They look almost identical to Starbucks Korea's mega-hit Sumer Ready Bag that went out of stock instantly after its release.

Customers can get the bag after displaying a receipt showing they purchased over 15,000 won worth of snacks at Homeplus or seven packs of chips at Lotte Mart.

Local coffeehouse chain A Twosome Place is offering discounts on camping products when customers purchase frozen desserts at its chain stores.

A Twosome Place CEO Lee Young-sang
A Twosome Place CEO Lee Young-sang
Bakery franchise SPC Group also revealed its limited-edition picnic cool bag for customers purchasing over 10,000 won worth of donuts at Dunkin', which it operates here through a subsidiary.

McDonald's Korea is giving away "picnic set" collectible merchandise for customers who purchase Big Mac sets.

HiteJinro introduced a cooler bag manufactured in collaboration with sportswear brand Barrel, while Chinese brewer Tsingtao is giving away cooling containers made in collaboration with the camping brand Naturehike.

However, skeptics say these so-called second movers won't be as successful as Starbucks Korea, because of their weaker brand power.

"It is not the item itself that people like. People like merchandise with the Starbucks logo on them. If a firm does not have strong brand power, its collectible merchandise has to be a quality product, because if it is not, then people won't even look at it," an industry source said.

The U.S. coffeehouse chain started its collectible merchandise business last year. It gave out small suitcases to customers who purchased 17 drinks, including seasonal beverages.

The giveaway item gained unexpected popularity and created a craze here that made people wait in front of Starbucks coffee shops every morning last summer.

One customer purchased 300 coffees at a Starbucks shop in Yeouido and received 17 reward items last May. This helped the coffeehouse chain's sales grow 3 percent year-on-year in 2020 when its operations in all other countries posted negative growth in the same period. Starbucks Korea's revenue last year reached an all-time high of nearly 2 trillion won ($1.77 billion).

Starbucks Korea introduced two more collectible merchandise items this summer ― "Summer Day Cooler" and "Summer Night Singing Lantern." The lantern has already gone viral among Starbucks fans and is being traded for 150,000 won on secondhand online markets here. The price is more than twice the amount (65,000 won) that a customer needs to pay for 17 drinks to get the collectible item.

Some customers are selling their e-frequency coupons for between 65,000 won and 67,000 won, which can be exchanged for the coolers at Starbucks coffee shops.

Shinsegae, which owns 50 percent of Starbucks Korea, has decided to ride on the popularity of Starbucks' collectible merchandise in its hotel marketing. The retail giant is giving out one of the two latest Starbucks merchandise items to people who stay at its boutique L'Escape Hotel in Seoul.

At its e-commerce platform SSG.com, Shinsegae offered two camping items exclusively last Thursday and they were all sold out in 80 minutes, even crashing the server due to explosive traffic.

To prevent people from waiting in long lines that can cause inconveniences to other customers, Starbucks decided to sell collectible merchandise products on SSG.com. But this also caused the e-commerce platform's server to crash after traffic surged by more than 10 times compared to usual.

SSG.com said it will sell Starbucks merchandise two more times: on May 20 and 27.
Kim Jae-heun jhkim@koreatimes.co.kr


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