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The power of culture in branding: How the Korean Wave can help global brands thrive in Asia


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In Asia, the popularity of South Korean pop culture, known as the ‘Korean Wave’, is creating a cultural sensation. South Korea’s entertainment productions, including pop music, television dramas, films and games, have been exported to more than 30 countries in Asia and have gained unprecedented popularity across the continent. With mega hits such as Psy’s Gangnam Style and the recent TV drama Descendants of the Sun, South Korea has, arguably, now become the top influencer of culture in Asia. The Korean Wave has translated into business opportunities for various retail sectors. Korea’s beauty industry has been the largest beneficiary of the cultural trend, as the demand for Korean beauty products has surged around the world. Several Western fashion brands have also taken advantage of the cultural trend. This paper examines five types of promotion strategies that global brands have successfully pursued by riding on the Korean Wave: celebrity endorsement, product placement, social media, technology sharing and distribution agreement. These promotion strategies are also analysed in the context of unique Asian culture. As many global brands are seeking to enter Asia, given its enormous market potential, this paper will provide insightful suggestions on how to take advantage of Asia’s latest cultural trend.
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Keywords: Asian retail market; Korean Wave; celebrity endorsement; product placement; promotion strategy

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: December 1, 2017

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  • Journal of Brand Strategy is the essential professional journal publishing in-depth, peer-reviewed articles on all aspects of brands.

    Guided by a senior Editorial Board, consisting of leading branding experts, each quarterly 100-page issue – published in print and online – provides detailed, practical articles from leading branding professionals on innovative strategies, techniques and trends, together with the latest applied research in branding and detailed analysis of how leading brands are managed around the world. It does not publish advertising and all content is peer-reviewed to ensure that it is of direct, practical relevance to those working in the field.

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