The Wine Market of Korea Part 1

or.. Twitter, Social Media and Wine Clubs in Korea

As I continue to research the Korean wine market, I'm always keeping my eyes open for interesting developments. This piece (duplicated here) by Joshua Hall summarizes the big trends of 2010 very well. I thought I would expand on some of these ideas with my own opinion in a two part series.

Twitter and Social Media

There is no doubt that social media is here to stay in Korea. The country has been a social media pioneer with the Cyworld, Naver and Daum portals. Facebook never caught on quite like it has elsewhere due to these highly established players. 2010 did see Koreans take to Twitter, an uncommon success for a foreign internet technology.  As Joshua mentioned, Twitter is very important to wine marketing in Korea right now.

Twitter in KoreaThe web in general provides a wealth of wine related information to the Korean market. The website wine21.com in particular is a very valuable resource. Their wine database provides fairly comprehensive list of wines available in Korea as well as the cheapest retailers. Very useful.

Alcohol is not permitted to be sold online or by mail order in Korea so you do not see a direct-to-consumer sales model in Korea for wine.

Blogging, like elsewhere, is very popular in Korea. Photoblogging of restaurants and food along with wine is particularly popular. There are a handful of wine bloggers who have become quite influential. One concern is rumors of some bloggers opinions being bought. Unlike in the US there are no laws requiring bloggers to reveal free wine, dinners or other payment. 

Wine Clubs

As mentioned above, Cyworld and Naver are the leaders in social media. Through these portals, "online communities" are created where people with common interests meet. This type of community is very popular in Korea and communities exist for every type of interest (wine, food, various sports, English learning, dancing, etc). The wine communities are likely very influential on the buying preferences of their members.

I see opportunity in engaging with the wine clubs, offering to host special tastings for their members for example. Another idea might be engaging with the clubs to host group visits to Californian wineries.

Within the U.S. the closest I've seen to the Korean style hybrid online/offline clubs are Meetups.  I participate in the Central Coast Food and Wine Group. The group is very active and the Meetups are organized online but there doesn't exists a sense of online community like there does for the Korean groups.


The wine industry in Korea is generally made up of old established players in an established distribution system. I think there is great opportunity to engage directly with the customer using modern marketing techniques and social media. The U.S. wine industry is well versed in catering to younger drinkers taking full advantage of Internet technologies. I hope to see the U.S. target Korean consumers, bringing in new wine and helping to reduce prices on the Korean market.  See The Wine Market of Korea Part 2 for more.

How do you see Social Media and Internet based wine clubs shaping the Korean marketplace? Discuss in the comments. 

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3 Responses to “The Wine Market of Korea Part 1”

  1. Good commentary. I would like to touch on some points you mentioned:
    To clarify: I have never received payment for wine blogging. I always declare samples and wine gifts from importers. I am able to buy wine direct from importers at wholesale rates if I so choose. I then write the average retail price next to the wine. I also buy from retailers.
    In Korea importers are not used to giving samples to wine bloggers and are only just starting to do so. In USA, NZ and elsewhere wine bloggers receive a lot more samples. It's a changing media landscape and wine companies here are starting to realize the value of blogs. I've had a few free dinners and lunches but haven't blogged about them to date. Anything complimentary gets the same critical treatment.
    Powerbloggers opinions can be bought. Most of these are IT/Automobile or food bloggers. Companies such as Samsung and Hyundai pay 150,000won plus for a blog post. Some bloggers hate this and feel it goes against the ethos of blogging as alternative media however many bloggers are envious and would love to make money on their blogs.
    Meetups exists in Korea as well but is limited to the expat community and Koreans with proficient English. There is a Seoul Wine Meetup group online.
    Alcohol can't be sold online except for Makgoelli. The government made an exception to the laws to help promote this traditional rice "beer." (Often called rice wine for marketing purposes.)
    Wine Clubs here would love to meet winemakers and taste more wine. It's an opportunity they don't get being outside of trade. Language is a barrier but the organizer usually speaks fluent English or French.
     

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  1. Wine Market Korea: QPR,EU Korea FTA,Korean Food Wine Pairing | Vinum Vita | Terrence Jones - January 6, 2011

    […] Previously I commented on the state of the wine market in Korea.  Here, I continue to comment on this piece (duplicated here) by Joshua Hall which summarizes the big trends of 2010.  Part one of the series can be found here: The Wine Market of Korea Part 1 […]