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If I Think It Fun, I Buy It!

The consumer trends that pursue cost-effectiveness and satisfaction are gone, and the era of buying products for fun has arrived! There are lots of consumers enjoying buying fun products, which are referred to as Funsumers, in Korea. A Funsumer is the combination of the words ‘fun’ and ‘consumer,’ and Funsumers lead trends while sharing their consumption experiences on social networking services (SNS). Although products for Funsumers make companies profits and consumers have fun experiences in the process, there are also problems with these products. The Sungkyun Times (SKT) is going to analyze the types, effectiveness, and problems of fun-marketing and propose further ways to improve fun-marketing.

Purchases for Fun, the Birth of Fun-Marketing

-Now Is the Age of Buying for Fun!

Fun-marketing is the marketing strategy mainly targeting Funsumers who pursue fun while buying products. These products are popular not only because of their high quality and pretty designs but also the fun elements that can impress consumers. Recently, lots of brands have made products for Funsumers, but actually, fun-marketing started earlier in the 2000s. At that time, fun-marketing mostly used one-way methods such as making funny TV commercials or Commercial Message (CM) songs. Entering the 2010s, fun-marketing became bilateral by the activation of SNS like Facebook and Instagram. Companies started to open brand promotion events emphasizing fun through SNS contents, and as positive reactions continued, fun-marketing has developed in various ways. After that, products using a play on words, memes, and movie quotes appeared, and their popularity continues to this day.

An Image of Binggraeus the Masis(Binggraekorea Official Instagram)

-Three Different Types of Fun-Marketing

➊ Dank Marketing

'Dank marketing’ is a marketing method that makes hilarious commercials to refresh brand images and uses memes that can spread fast on SNS. A famous example of dank marketing is Binggraeus the Masis made by the Korean ice cream and beverage company, Binggrae. It has its own brand world which started in February 2020, and it is a concept of the Binggrae Kingdom by personifying the products as animation characters. For example, Melona (melon flavored ice cream) is personified as Ongtte Merona Byureujyang, which sounds like an old French nobleman, and is also from a popular meme in Korea. After its successful marketing, Binggrae has reached 148,000 followers on Instagram, and it has the largest number of followers among Instagram accounts of Korean food companies. Furthermore, this led to an increase in profit for the company, with a 30.1% increase in profit for the second quarter of 2020 compared to the same period of the previous year.

➋ Unusual Collaborations

An unusual collaboration refers to a collaboration of two companies under totally different product categories, and it draws the attention of consumers by surprising them with an unexpected combination. Daehan Flour Gompyo, Korean Flour Great Brand, is a common example of unusual collaboration. Gompyo is an old brand that is celebrating 70 years of establishment next year and corresponds to ‘newtro.’ Newtro means an old thing that is unfamiliar to young people. While retro makes the 40s and 50s nostalgic for their youth, newtro indicates the trend of the 20s and 30s enjoying the retro, which they have not experienced. Gompyo used this newtro characteristic to collaborate with brands in various fields like fashion, beauty, and groceries to reach young consumers easily. As a result, Gompyo Wheat Beer, which is a collaboration product with the convenience store CU and the beer company 7Brau achieved great success by selling 300,000 cans within a week.

Popcorn and Beer Products of Gompyo(bgfretail.com)

➌ Copy Marketing

‘Copy marketing’ is another popular method of funmarketing, which creates fun by copying the form of a completely different product. For example, there are pork belly-shaped jellies, tuna sashimi-shaped jellies, and marker-like beverages. The tuna sashimi-shaped jellies seem like real tuna sashimi because they reflect the differences in color and shape of each part of tuna, and even the rakkyo (Chinese onion) is served as jelly. Therefore, even though consumers know it is a jelly, they feel surprised by its appearance. The products applying copy marketing are usually used as content for uploading on Instagram or YouTube, resulting in a temporary increase in sales. In July 2020, the convenience store chain, GS25, launched poo-shaped jellies and pickled radish-shaped jellies, and these products each ranked 3rd and 5th in the sales of the jelly category within a week.

Poo-Shaped Jellies and Pickled Radish-Shaped Jellies(gs25.gsretail.com)

Effectiveness and Problems of Fun-Marketing

-Why Do Companies Also Like Fun-Marketing?

➊ Viral Marketing Coming Together

One of the reasons companies prefer fun-marketing is that the effects of viral marketing come together. Viral marketing is a marketing method that makes netizens voluntarily promote a company or its products through SNS. This helps the company save additional costs to promote the products and increase brand awareness at the same time. Before, companies directly promoted their products to individuals. However, the latest consumers connected to network webs exchange information with each other and have publicity at the same time. Fun-marketing takes advantage in having viral marketing since its fun aspects and usage easily appeal to consumers. For instance, in 2014, the Korean beverage brand Virak Sikhye made a viral video using the loyalty concept for fun, and saw its sales increase more than 35% compared to the same period of the previous year.

The Applications for SNS(unsplash.com)

➋ Increase Brand Likeability

Clever fun-marketing boosts brand image favorably. Because of consumers who enjoy sharing interesting content on SNS, fun-marketing applied products and their brands have become a hot topic among people. In particular, good fun-marketing arouses curiosity in consumers, and they do not only own the products but experience the story contained in the products. Gompyo is known to be a successful case of fun-marketing, which does not excessively focus on topicality but also makes products of good quality. Besides, brand favorability rises because successful fun-marketing comes after communication with major target audiences of the brand. In 2020, Behave Global, a partner of FILA Korean SNS channel, won the grand prize in the communication partner category at the Korea Communication Awards for the achievements of various collaboration projects that reflect consumers’ needs.

-Are There Any Issues with Fun-Marketing?

➊ Possibility of Damaging Brand Image

Fun-marketing is not perfect as it can make companies hard to build a strong brand image. Excessive fun-marketing attempts before establishing brand identity will likely lead to a failure in gaining publicity. As fun-marketing is a prolonged strategy and most companies now use funmarketing, it is difficult to succeed if there is no uniqueness of promotions. Besides, if the products do not consider consumers, only a temporary profit will be brought and adverse effects can occur. Recently, drinks in the shape of marker pens, a collaboration product between stationery company Monami and the convenience store GS25, raised concerns about the safety of infants and toddlers. This is a good example that shows the limitation of fun-marketing that prioritizes fun and does not consider basic consumer safety. Failure in fun-marketing may negatively affect the brand image, which is not beneficial to companies in the long term.

➋ Pursuing Excessive Topicality

The products using fun-marketing are in great demand. Among them, there are products of high quality, but there are also products that are not since some fun-marketing excessively pursues topicality. Despite their low qualities, the products are sold very well for a short period compared to general products, but after trends change, they are likely to be thrown away. For example, in 2017, the My Straw Campaign of Binggrae was so successful that it won two grand prizes at the Korea Advertising Awards. 100,000 straws were sold, but the straws soon became useless since they could only be used when drinking the banana-flavored milk of Binggrae. Moreover, those were inconvenient to clean and also unpractical because no one uses them in real life. It is difficult to recycle the goods because the demand for them will drop sharply in contrast to its mass production after the trend has ended. Despite these environmental problems, it is difficult to abandon topicality because they have overwhelming advantages.

My Straw Campaign of Binggrae(bing.co.kr)

Fun-Marketing Continues in 2021!

-For Effective Fun-Marketing

Fun-marketing adds fun as one of the attractive elements that make consumers make purchases, such as product function and design. For this reason, the company can strongly appeal its products to consumers more effectively than other competitors. However, these products can be easily thrown away if they are not practical or durable. Therefore, companies should focus on fun factors after setting utility and reasonable prices. Also, it is necessary to formulate a strategy by carefully grasping the needs and interests of consumers. Fun-marketing mainly aims at young people who are following the trend, and consumption trends change very quickly. Thus, for successful fun-marketing, marketers should be sensitive to consumer trends and set up a strategy to satisfy their main targets as well as having fun.

-Sound Funsumers Make the Future

Nowadays, fun-marketing is driven by consumers. Companies devise strategies considering consumer behaviors and purchase patterns. Plus, their role is very important because consumers directly promote, announce event news, and even purchase products. Therefore, consumers should lead the market economy in the right direction by paying attention not to be allured to excessive fun-marketing that only pursues fun without considering the quality of products. Furthermore, if consumers do not buy products that have only funny factors and lack utility, companies will inevitably change their strategies. For this reason, even if the purchase is for following the trend or uploading on SNS, consumers should make a habit of thinking twice before making a purchase.

-Expanding the Range of Fun-Marketing

Until now, fun-marketing has been mainly used by large companies, but by expanding its range, it can be a new way to save small but strong companies. An unusual collaboration of a large company, which already has high recognition and a strong company but whose name is not well-known, can benefit each other. Large companies can help the low-recognition companies by collaborating, and they can form a good brand image. Companies that are not well-known can introduce themselves to consumers and grow bigger in the market through collaboration. Besides, the range of fun-marketing can also be expanded to national business fields. Public institutions can naturally inform the public what services they provide. For instance, Pengsoo, a character of the Korea Educational Broadcasting System, appeared in 2019 and became popular through witty gags. By presenting Korean central administrative agencies such as the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Health and Welfare, and the Ministry of Education on the YouTube channel of Pengsoo, the agencies could imprint their roles in society to the public and raise likeability.

Kang Kyung-hwa, a Former Foreign Minister of South Korea, Meeting with Pengsoo(yna.co.kr)

Consumption helps people live a better life by satisfying their needs. People seem to behave very logically in the critical moments of buying things, but actually, they don’t. We often buy things just because they are famous, pretty, or fun. Through this article, Kingos might understand how fun factors make people open their wallets. From now on, even when buying a product for fun, remember the intention of the company and think again about buying it. For a long happy life, rather than short fun!

서혜준  sdw11882@g.skku.edu

<저작권자 © THE SUNGKYUN TIMES, 무단 전재 및 재배포 금지>

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