Since its founding in 1967, LOTTE Group has expanded from a gum manufacturer to a multi-national conglomerate with businesses in food, retail, chemical, construction, manufacturing, tourism, services and finance. On its 50th anniversary in 2017, the company announced its new motto, ‘Lifetime Value Creator’, as indication of its continuing commitment to servicing customers and the community at large. It’s not just PR talk of course. In the last 50 years, LOTTE has created various initiatives, be it relating to environmental preservation or national development, in countries it has offices in.
LOTTE’s footprint in Vietnam
In Vietnam, where LOTTE has a huge presence, football matches are huge affairs, with the entire nation taking to the streets to cheer for their favourite teams. When there isn’t a game, the preferred way to take in the football fervour is through LOTTE Cau Thu Nhi, a TV show that follows a bunch of kids on their journey to becoming football players. Any Vietnamese child can audition; and if selected as an elite member, he or she will go through vigorous training by the national football team. Produced and broadcasted by LOTTE Group, the programme has gained a massive following in the last decade, recording the highest rating among programmes in the same time slot during the last season. Aside from helping make dreams come true, the long-running programme is making a mark in the country’s sports development. In 2016, LOTTE also created LOTTE KIDS FC, a Ho Chi Minh soccer club for kids aged 7-12 who want to develop their skills over a year-long period. All training expenses and uniforms were paid for by LOTTE.
From 2018 to 2019, the company initiated a 'LOTTE School Attack’ campaign that saw Vietnam's national football stars making surprise visits to school and participating in various school activities. The campaign, which also comprised building goalposts, giving out free uniforms and doling out scholarships, racked up more than 20 million views online.
Sports education and awareness is only one area the company is involved in Vietnam. LOTTE is also striving to improve the level of education for Vietnamese consumers. In 2017, the company established the LOTTE-KOICA (Korea International Cooperation Agency) Service Education Center at Ho Chi Minh Industrial University in Vietnam along with the Ministry of Industry of both countries and the Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) and is transferring LOTTE Group's capabilities and know-how to Vietnamese job seekers and small business owners through basic education in areas such as service education, foreign languages, hygiene and store management. In particular, LOTTE has organised special lectures for local employees, teamed up with affiliate stores and practice centers to provide trainees with more inspired learning, and provided top-performing graduates with interview opportunities at LOTTE Mart, LOTTERIA, and LOTTE Hotel in Vietnam. In 2009, LOTTE Department Store established LOTTE School, a unit that remodels or build kindergarten and elementary school facilities to improve access to education and create an environment where young students can learn freely.
LOTTE’s educational initiatives in Indonesia
LOTTE’s CSR initiatives in Indonesia, a country with a family-oriented culture, have focused on children’s education. In 2019, the company held two contests for those at different stages of their studies. During the first half of 2019, the company held a drawing contest to help children draw their dreams and support them. After the online preliminaries, the finals were held at LOTTE Shopping Avenue in Jakarta, and a total of more than 10,000 participants participated in the offline drawing contest. The first prize was awarded with a prize money along with the provision of Korea's advanced educational and cultural experience, and various other benefits were provided to all participants.
In the second half of this year, the company launched a 'Beasiswa Juara' campaign (Scholarship Quiz) for high school students. Teaming up with the Ministry of Education and Culture, LOTTE conducted online preliminaries all over the country. More than 10,000 people participated in first round, and the selected 100 finalists battled it out on TV. The final three were awarded full university tuition; LOTTE also gave out developmental funding to their alma maters. The campaign video recorded many views, with a fair portion of commentators asking for an annual re-run.
LOTTE’s contribution to the global community
In addition to the above, LOTTE also looks to the long-term, and has various initiatives that contributes to the development of the communities it is present in. In 2013, LOTTE Department Store provided clean water facilities to underprivileged areas near Jakarta to lessen the impact of insufficient supply and water pollution. To supply drinking water, LOTTE Mart is also taking the lead in developing infrastructure in Indonesia, including the installation of underground water pumps, restoration of facilities in disaster areas and the installation of bridges.
In 2015, LOTTE Confectionery sent relief supplies to about 15,000 people in Tamil Nadu, India, regions that was hit hard by floods. When Cyclone Gaza was hit the same area in 2018, various relief supplies were provided to recover the disaster victims.
To offset the carbon impact of industrialisation, LOTTE Chemical planted 25,000 trees in Tanjung Piai National Park in Malaysia in 2018. In addition, public facilities such as bus stops and restrooms were repaired to improve the living environment of the local community. LOTTE also gave out scholarships, organised book donation drives and repaired older facilities to ensure that everyone has equal access to education. LOTTE’s efforts were recognised when it was selected as the 'CSR Excellent Company' among 260 Korean companies in Malaysia in 2018.
LOTTE's goal of achieving affluence for citizens
LOTTE Group is working to create facilities and services that benefit all members of society, from the elderly to children.
In its home country, the company has launched ‘mom’s happiness’, a CSR initiative aiming to lift low birth rates, and create a world where women and mothers feel comfortable living in. Under this initiative, LOTTE has built eco-friendly playgrounds, improved daycare centres, and provided classes for military and low-income families.
According to OECD studies, South Korea ranked the lowest among OECD countries, with only six minutes a day for children to spend with their fathers. Amongst employees, there is a general reluctance to use paternity leave. In response, LOTTE Group introduced a system that mandates the use of paternity leave for at least one month for male employees, paving the way for other corporates to do the same.
The effort to combat COVID-19
As a global company with diverse businesses in 36 countries, LOTTE has implemented strong preventive measures in all workplaces since the beginning of COVID-19. Aside from providing its 230,000 employees with free masks, it deployed a task force to communicate with more than 50 affiliates and more than 20,000 businesses in real-time. Flexible working hours were implemented to minimise interpersonal contact among field staff, and meetings switched from off- to on-line.
These measures are extended to LOTTE consumers. Thermal imaging cameras and sanitisers are installed at entrances of LOTTE buildings, shopping carts and escalators undergo rigorous cleaning, while major facilities are sterilised once a day.
LOTTE also decided to set aside US$1 million to support communities suffering from COVID-19, including the provision of relief supplies to vulnerable groups and medical staff.
Beyond Korea, LOTTE has provided Korean diagnostic kits and quarantine supplies to Vietnam, Indonesia and Pakistan. In particular, it has provided 30,000 diagnostic kits of about US$300,000 to Indonesia, where the number of confirmed patients continues to increase, and COVID-19 protective clothing and diagnostic kits of approximately US$250,000 to Pakistan.
LOTTE is now charting a path for post COVID-19 recovery. A self-produced book titled 'BC and AC' . distributed to all group companies, includes analyses of the socioeconomic changes expected after the end of the pandemic. It aims to help employees understand and preemptively respond to future changes.
Aware of what its social responsibilities are, LOTTE are coming up with different ways to give back to communities that have helped built its business. Such ethos is increasingly important, perhaps, in an era when a rising number of consumers say they prefer to purchase from purpose-driven brands.