Holiday Gift Culture: Korea vs. Japan

      February 04, 2008 09:47

      When a holiday season nears, retailers around the world rack their brains for brilliant new gift ideas. Japan, which boasts an advanced retail system, is noteworthy in this field. While Koreans prefer heavy boxes of meat and ribs for gifts, Japanese enjoy a somewhat more delicate gift culture.

      For example, for Japan's great Buddhist festival of Obon (Aug. 15) last year, Mitsukoshi Department Store offered a special gift set in which customers could choose three items among sweets, cakes, jellies, puddings, and shrimp chips or smoked eel, seasonal fish, salmon roe and pollack roe. The items were then packaged into a gift set costing 5,000 to 7,000 yen.

      The gift's delivery system was also remarkable. The "triple delivery" system allowed customers to pay once to have the gift delivered in three separate monthly installments, from July to September. Because the set contains seasonal fruits and fishes, recipients could enjoy a variety of foods each month.

      Korea's gift-giving culture is showing signs of change. Hyundai Department Store last year offered a tailored gift set. The so-called "hamper set" allows customers to pick gift items for a basket pre-priced at W100,000 to W400,000.

      The idea has received a favorable response. A Hyundai Department Store official said that hamper set sales grew by double digits this year, adding that customers are so satisfied with the set that few recipients ask to return or exchange it.

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