South Korea is an attractive prospect to many businesses looking to expand internationally, and there are several reasons why.
The first reason is its size: it is a relatively large country, with a sizeable population, which means there will likely be a market for your product.
It is also a digitally mature nation. As of December 2023, South Korea has a population of 51.8 million people. Of these people, 49.8 million are currently online, which represents an internet penetration rate of 96%.
The appeal of this market only grows stronger when you realise that, according to the International Monetary Fund, South Korea is the fourth-largest economy in Asia in terms of GDP, after only China, Japan and India.
However, it can be challenging to enter the South Korean market. South Korea has a truly unique digital landscape, with a plethora of local platforms.
But never fear! This blog post will explain to you the most important local platforms you should consider when doing digital marketing in South Korea.
1. Do search engine optimisation on Naver
The uniqueness of South Korea’s digital landscape starts with its search engine market. Unlike most other countries in the world, where Google reigns supreme, in South Korea, there is another big player in the market: Naver.
Naver is a platform with many unique characteristics, so it is important to understand the platform clearly before attempting to do SEO or PPC.
Naver’s search engine results pages look totally different from Google. They often contain many different Naver services, including Blog, Café, News, Shopping, Encyclopaedia, Maps and more.
The SEO system on Naver is designed to promote these subsidiary services of Naver above others, so remember to create content across Naver’s own platforms as part of your Naver SEO strategy.
This will help you to have an organic online presence in the South Korean market, as well as encourage audience engagement.
2. Do social media marketing on KakaoTalk
South Korea’s number-one social platform is KakaoTalk. KakaoTalk is a messenger app which was launched in 2010. With KakaoTalk, you can: send and receive messages, photos and videos; take part in group chats; use emojis; and make voice and video calls. All of these functions are available for free.
But KakaoTalk is not just a simple messenger app. It has a number of features such as Kakao Gift, Kakao Shopping, Kakao News – and most importantly for businesses, KakaoTalk Channel. KakaoTalk Channel is a business tool created by KakaoTalk. It is used by both small and large companies as a tool to communicate and promote their services or products in South Korea.
If used effectively, KakaoTalk Channel can act as a PR and sales channel for your brand in the South Korean market.
3. Sell your items on local platforms (Coupang, Naver Shopping, etc.)
Like everything else in this market, South Korea’s e-commerce landscape is unique. Amazon does not reign supreme the way it does in many other countries. Instead, a plethora of homegrown e-commerce platforms flourish in its place.
The most popular e-commerce marketplace in South Korea is Coupang, followed by Naver Shopping, 11st and Gmarket. If you want to sell your items on an online marketplace, these platforms should therefore be your focus.
Coupang, Naver Shopping, 11st and Gmarket are all open market systems. This means there are little to no barriers to market activities for brands within the platforms. After registering as a buyer, brands can sell their products directly to customers.
There are not many differences between the platforms, with competitiveness coming from which platform can provide the products at the lowest price.
Want to learn more?
I hope this blog post has been a useful introduction to digital marketing in South Korea. For more in-depth information and advice, read my full-length guide here! From reading this guide, you will learn:
- the current digital landscape in South Korea, including internet penetration rates
- the typical South Korean internet user, including their gender, age and online activities
- device usage breakdowns and internet speeds in South Korea
- search engine marketing in South Korea
- how to localise your website for South Korea
- social media marketing in South Korea
- the local culture and language in South Korea
- e-commerce in South Korea
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