Is Japanese superior? LG answers the Korea quality question

By Patrick Avenell

SYDNEY, NSW: Here’s an interesting piece of trivia: put the word “Japanese premium product” in Google, and you’ll get almost 40 million hits. Put the words “Korean premium product” in, and you only get roughly half that figure.

The reason might be simple: Japan’s population is roughly twice Korea’s, so that’s that. But dig deeper, and there’s a perception in the Australian marketplace that Japanese product are technologically superior — a view Sony definitely supports — and Korean products are good without being spectacular.

LG senior category marketing manager Stan Bilinski acknowledged that this difference in perception is an issue being dealt with by the marketing team. In his research, however, he has found that ignorance rather than experience has fuelled this anti-Korean bias.

“We’re seeing in our research that consumers are, definitely when it comes to post-purchase research, scoring [products] higher once they own an LG product, versus people who don’t own LG products,” said Bilinski.

Part of the burden of running LG’s national marketing is carrying this weight of opinion, and convincing consumers to choose Korean, in this case LG, in order to prove the products are of equal technical standard to LG’s Japanese neighbours.

“Clearly we carry the perception that we’re not as high quality as Japanese, but we do research for consumers that own an LG TV: in terms of quality, reliability and overall quality, they’re scoring significantly higher, so we know that consumers that actually own LG products definitely have a significantly different perception of the products versus what it was 10 years ago.”

In a reference to the 1980s, when Japanese brands including Sony, Panasonic, JVC, Toshiba and Sharp set high benchmarks for all brands to follow, Bilinski concluded by saying his research into customer satisfaction has answered the question about whether Korea has caught up — at least in technology, if not yet perception.

“[Consumer research results are] the best indicator of what consumers are thinking and feeling about the quality of our products, so we definitely feel we’ve moved on from the old days.”

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