Cultural content and IT products continued to be favorites in Samsung Economic Research Institute's annual top 10 list of consumer favorites.
The 2012 list gleaned from experts and 19,701 Internet survey respondents evenly split services and products. Rapper Psy's "Gangnam Style", the global sensation, was the No. 1 favorite as 90 percent of respondents included it in their top 10 selections.
It was followed by: 2. Anipang, a smartphone puzzle game; 3. 2012 Galaxy smart devices; 4. black boxes in cars; 5. London Olympics athletes; 6. energy drinks; 7. long-term evolution (LTE) service; 8. premium instant coffee packets; 9. Korean movies and 10. camping products.
The year 2012 was characterized by low global growth, expanding social networking and market-leading innovative technologies. These underscored three themes of the top 10 list: sharing, upgrading and escapism.
Persistent economic weakness and uncertainty had consumers gravitate to low-cost gratification that could be shared and make them feel connected. The "Gangnam Style" video by Psy (34-year-old Park Jae-sang) became the most shared item Around The World. In only four months, it became the No. 1 video in YouTube history with more than 900 million views. Nothing coming out of Korea has lifted the nation's cultural brand faster than the catchy beat, comedic style and easy-to-do "horse dance" of Gangnam Style.
Anipang (No. 2), a smartphone puzzle game, gained massive popularity. Anipang was unusual because even people who usually frown on computer or video games got swept up with the infectious puzzle of KakaoTalk, Korea's top instant messaging service. Real time score keeping, a short playing time and KakaoTalk linkages spurred constant competition among multiple players.
Korean athletes in the London Summer Olympics (No. 5) drummed up more excitement, drama and suspense than any movie or TV show. Their strenuous efforts and personal stories proved hugely popular with the public. Meanwhile, 2012 was a historic year in Korea's film history. Big hits, from "The Thieves" to "Masquerade" "A Werewolf Boy" and "Pieta", with a wide range of story lines led to Korean movies attracting 100 million viewers for the first time (No. 9).
Second, consumers showed a keen interest in products that offered genuine upgrades. People responded more positively to innovative products rather than those with predictable improvements. Samsung Electronics' Galaxy S III and Galaxy Note II (No. 3) dominated the global smartphone market with high-resolution large screens as well as various functions and convenience.
LTE service (No. 7) became a global role model for the next-generation wireless communications service as it drastically raised speed compared to the existing 3G service. The success of LTE services came by addressing consumer frustration with delays or sudden loss of mobile service.
Premium instant coffee packets (No. 8) offered taste and flavor superior to existing instant coffees, providing a high-quality coffee experience at an inexpensive price.
Finally, products that remove uncertainty and reduce daily stress grew in popularity. Vehicle black boxes (No. 4) appealed to consumers who want unambiguous proof of their driving. The device makes a video recording and collects operational data when a vehicle is in motion.
Energy drinks (No. 6) claimed to fight fatigue and restore alertness, and were very popular among young people. This is likely due to rapidly increasing demand to combat fatigue and drowsiness and increase concentration as young people prepare for exams and search for a job.
Finally, "camping products" (No. 10) provided new value in domestic travel, where people can escape the routine of their urban living and experience nature. Camping with family and friends became seen as way to reset emotions and health.
This year, consumers looked for enjoyment while pursuing genuine innovation, and took a strong interest in products that helped them resolve uncertainty and tension. In 2013, businesses probably will introduce more products that have value for consumers' lives and change them for the better.
* The writer is a research fellow at the Samsung Economic Research Institute. Visit www.seriworld.org for more SERI reports.
by Seo Min-soo
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2015 51st PaekSang Arts Awards