Korean stores target Chinese customers

Korean American businesses in Flushing are increasingly focusing their marketing on Chinese customers. Some are promoting themselves actively in the Chinese media. Some are hiring Chinese-speaking staff to secure as many Chinese patrons as possible.

The entire staff of Star Skin & Wellbeing on 147th Street can speak Chinese as well as Korean. “A year ago, we had some Korean employees who only spoke Korean. But now all the workers are proficient in Chinese too,” says owner Youjin Lee. “I plan to run ads in the Chinese media soon, too.”

Namsangol, a Korean restaurant specialized in cooking swellfish, which opened on 161-23 Crocheron Avenue three months ago, has recently hired two Chinese-speaking employees, because more of its customers are Chinese. “After our restaurant was covered by the Chinese media as a delicious restaurant, the number of Chinese clients has grown, now accounting for 20 percent of the clientele,” said a member of the restaurant’s staff. The restaurant plans to participate in Chinese community events.

At Agijagi, a clothing store, more than half the customers are Chinese. “The number of Chinese clients has increased annually,” said owner Dahye Ryu. “Chinese people who love Korean soap operas and popular music also show interest in the current styles in clothes and shoes that are popular in Korea.” The clothing store advertising in the Chinese media this year.

The Math Training Center in Bayside started running ads for its reference book for mathematics, “New Method,” in Chinese newspapers, while the Korea Health Industry Development Institute (KHIDI) has made an appearance on the Chinese television channel New Tang Dynasty Television (NTD) to promote Korean medical tourism.

Behind this active marketing to the Chinese community is the increase in the number of the Chinese people who have shown interest in the South Korean phenomenon known as “hallyu” or “Korean Wave.” They enjoy Korean dramas and popular songs. They eat at Korean restaurants and shop at Korean grocery stores. They are also actively engaged in online activities such as posting reviews.

“We are running an aggressive marketing campaign to woo more Chinese customers, since the Chinese population is huge and they are known to spend,” said a worker at a Korean restaurant in Flushing. “With their interest in Korean culture increasing, I think we can use the momentum to boost our revenue to overcome the recession.”

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