Individual Case Study:
Canada Goose: The South Korean Opportunity
The six important factors to consider about South Korea’s culture is their values, norms, religion, education, social mobility, and American influences. South Korea was built up by many core values, however the most important being Confucianism. Confucianism was founded over 2000 years ago in the fifth century BC and was the official ethical system of China (Hill, Rihcardson, & McKaig, 2009). The value of Confucianism was profound in the Korean culture and it still continues to pervade amongst South Korean’s consciousness today. Confucianism shapes the Korean moral system, national laws, and business culture by placing an obligation towards relationships with others. The basic theories are based upon five different relationships: ruler and subject, husband and wife, parents and children, brothers and sisters, and friend and friend. This is important to consider when making decisions due to their high regards for respect amongst others. In addition, norms are also another component that shapes ones culture. Norms are the social rules and guidelines that define the behaviours of individuals (Hill, Richardson, & McKaig, 2009). South Korea possesses many norms, however, the most dominant is kibun, which has no literal translation that describes the pride, mood, or state of mind of an individual (Key Values and Norms, 2011). In business context, it is vital for one to show respect for others, especially those of your elders. Also, to determine one’s kibun by eye is called nunchi. Managers must be able to identify their subordinate’s nunchi to make sure they do not cross over the line of disrespect. Kibun is the facet of every Korean’s life, so it is vital to understand this norm when considering marketing Canada Goose in South Korea’s economy, specifically the distributers. The third factor to consider is South Korea’s ethical system and religion. Many scholars have argued that business implications of religion are surrounded on the extent of how different religions shape attitudes toward work and the degree to which religious ethics affect the costs of doing business in a country (Hill, Richardson, & McKaig, 2009). Statistics show that Korea’s dominant beliefs are consisted of 26.3% Christianity and 23.2% Buddhism. This accounts for a majority of different behaviours and ethics of individuals in the work force. Moreover, education plays a significant role in the Korean market because the level of education shows a good index of how well the Canada Goose product can be sold. Typically, if the education level of a country is high it is in correlation with a high economy. South Korea’s academics are highly competitive and show a 99.8% literacy rate. This concurs that South Korea’s market is definitive for Canada Goose. In addition, the fourth factor includes the social mobility of the country, which refers to the extent to which individuals can switch their social strata from which they are born (Hill, Richardson, & McKaig, 2009). The social mobility and social strata that exist within Korea has increased since the 1960s. There has been a significant increase in the middle class after the Korean War. The middle class grew from 6.6% to 17.7% between 1960 and 1980 (Social Classes in Contemporary Society, 2008). The rise in middle class is an important factor of South Korea’s culture since it is in line within Canada Goose’s target market. The last cultural factor is America’s heavy influence on South Korea. Recently, South Korea has adopted American culture through its food and fashion. With the increase in Internet activity and popular Hollywood films, Korea is responding by opening coffee shops and Western hamburgers. Abercrombie & Fitch Company are viewed highly in South Korea, the inaccessibility of American brands creates an exclusive bracket for early adopters to become determined to desire the product.
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