Byravee Iyer
Sep 17, 2013

How big data is influencing Korean campaigns

SPIKES ASIA 2013 - Mikyoung Kim, senior researcher at Cheil Worldwide took the stage on day two of Spikes Asia to discuss how digital is changing the age old approaches to advertising and marketing.

Mikyoung Kim
Mikyoung Kim

For decades, agencies and marketers relied on two types of messaging: The number-oriented functional approach and the intuitive approach, Kim said. Companies have conducted numerous surveys to understand consumers and plan their communication accordingly. However, there are several hidden facets that surveys are not able to uncover. According to Kim, most survey questionnaires are stereotyped and therefore elicit similar stereotyped answers. “We’ve not been able to gain hidden insights from people and we cannot leave everything to chance,” she stressed.

Kim presented two Korean campaigns that used social media data to gain accurate insights into consumers.

The first campaign was for Dongsuh Food’s coffee brand called Kanu. Dongsuh Food’s challenge was that although coffeehouses were growing rapidly, Korea’s instant coffee market was shrinking. As a market leader with 80 per cent of the market share, the company was motivated to find a solution. It developed Kanu based on the concept of ground coffee. However, getting consumers to see that Kanu was different from instant coffee products and was just as tasty as freshly brewed coffee was going to be tricky.


Cheil decided to look at its Social Media Analysis System, which tracks real-time data and found that consumers who preferred coffee houses used words such as “luxurious”, “special” and “attractive” in the social sphere. Some preferred drinking coffee at home but did not want to be considered “old women”. Cheil concluded that Koreans were concerned about their image rather than the taste of the coffee.

“By using data we can overcome limit of biased reality,” Kim said. “So big data give us a complete picture of why consumers buy a certain product and enables us to see what we could not see in the past.”

Using this data, Cheil and Dongsuh Food designed their communication concept as a portable brewed coffee or ‘The smallest café in the world”. Kanu’s packaging was designed like a replica of a coffee stand, and pop-up cafes in a similar design were opened across Seoul and Busan. Web and mobile sites were launched to spread the message. The result was overwhelming, Kim said. Kanu seized a 94 per cent share of the new coffee market.

Kim’s second example, although less pleasant, evoked a significant societal change: it saved lives. The campaign was done for Samsung Life Insurance in Korea by Cheil Worldwide.

South Korea’s big problem was staggering suicide rates. The Mapo Bridge on the Seoul River was a popular spot for suicidal people. Rather than talking about product benefits, Samsung Life Insurance decided that actions speak louder than words.

Cheil used its Social Media Analysis System and discovered that words such as ‘suicide’ and ‘depression’ were often used across networking sites. At the same time, the usage of words like ‘consolation’ and ‘sympathy’ were also increasing.

Cheil and Samsung collaborated with suicide prevention activists and psychologists to create an interactive bridge with sensors that light up when people walk by—displaying messages of comfort such as “The best is yet to come” and even a joke or two.


“Social activities don’t necessarily guarantee a response from consumers unless it’s relevant,” Kim said. “Big data helped us find the relevance while enabling us to interact with consumers, identifying their hidden needs and eventually moving them.”

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