Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Choices - NOT

When I first came to Korea, there were four really big shopping "mart" stores (think super Walmart-like). Carrefour, Homeplus, Homever, and E-Mart. Carrefour was closest to our apartment, and coincidentally seemed to have the widest selection of products to choose from. Over the years, through a series or acquisitions, there are now just two big ones left, Homeplus and E-Mart. You might think that when two stores merged, you would get a super-set of each stores product lines - the best of both worlds. Instead, they went the opposite way. At eash acquisition, I observed the product choices seemed to be fewer and fewer.

Then we have this article in the morning newspaper "Retail chains cull range of products on shelves". Well, to me, this isn't news - they've been doing it for years already. But apparently they're getting serious about it now. One chain will take an "intelligent" approach, and eliminate products that don't sell well. Maybe logical, unless one of those products happens to be my favorite strawberry jam or my real, American-style mustard! Another chain will restrict manufacturers to just one size of their products - the example being given was laundry soap - you will now only find one size of each brand on the shelf. I guess from now on it will only be 50Kg bags of laundry soap, purchased once a year, or 1Kg bags purchased every week.

I'm not sure how this is going to play out. If I worked in this industry, seems like I would already be acutely aware of the large reductions in product choices over the past years. Cutting the choices even further seems like the last thing I'd want to introduce. At some point, the customers are going to revolt.

Well, let's see how it plays out. In the meantime, I'd better stock up on mustard and jam - and oh yeah - laundry soap!


kevin.thurston said...

and 'sampling' will become much more predictable if every week it is the same (and only) instant coffee (for example). oh, eastern bloc!

kevin.thurston said...


“In truth, since E-Mart is our biggest distribution route, we had no choice but to follow suit when they asked us,” said a representative of a well-known detergent maker.

this reminds me a bit of how wal-mart started putting companies out of business "if you want to be carried at wal-mart, you will sell to us for X dollars." and, well, companies sold to wal-mart at a loss. (interesting to see wal-mart wasn't successful here, but some of the lessons could be working their way over here.)