Korean "day marketing" pushes everything from dishes to hugs on special occasions

Set meal from Kkongdon Korean Barbeque Restaurant. If food marketers in South Korea had their way, every day would be a day to eat something special. -- FILE PHOTO: KKONGDON KOREAN BBQ RESTAURANT
Set meal from Kkongdon Korean Barbeque Restaurant. If food marketers in South Korea had their way, every day would be a day to eat something special. -- FILE PHOTO: KKONGDON KOREAN BBQ RESTAURANT

If food marketers in South Korea had their way, every day would be a day to eat something special.

Slurping Jajangmyeon (Chinese style noodles topped with black bean sauce mixed with diced pork and vegetables) on Black Day is just the tip of the iceberg of a trend known as "day marketing".

Food promoters are out to persuade you to eat pork belly on Pork Belly Day on March 3, mackerel and tuna on March 7, duck on May 2, spicy stir-fried squid and pork on May 3, loach (a kind of fish) soup on July 5, chicken on Sep 9... and the list goes on.

Meanwhile, couples will never run out of special occasions to celebrate their love - if marketers had their way too.

Besides the two major Valentine's Day and White Day - girls give chocolates or gifts to the guys they like on Feb 14 and the guys return the favour on March 14 - there are a range of other special days for lovers to celebrate, much to the glee of businesses ranging from florists to lipstick brands and jewellery.

May 14 is the day to exchange roses, June 14 to seal your love with a kiss, July 14 to exchange silver rings, Aug 14 to drink soju (Korean rice wine) and go for a stroll in the woods, Sep 14 to snap memorable photos, Oct 14 to drink wine and be merry, Nov 11 to exchange a chocolate-dipped pretzel stick snack named Pepero, Nov 14 to go catch a romantic movie, Dec 14 to give each other a hug, and Jan 14 to exchange diaries so you won't forget all those important dates.

Those who have watched the wildly popular Korean drama My Love From The Stars (starring Jeon Ji Hyun and Kim Soo Hyun) will also know that it is tradition for lovers to hang a padlock on the top of Namsan Tower in Seoul as a sign of their endless love.

The more people celebrate these supposedly special days, the more business owners are laughing all the way to the banks.

Detractors have accused retailers of abusing day marketing tactics to lure customers likened to "sitting ducks", reported Korea Bizwire. Quality of the products may also suffer due to the increased demand, while prices get inflated to cover promotional cost.

But it seems business owners won't stop as long as there's a quick buck to be made.

Pork Belly Day, for one, is a farmers-led initiative turned mega price war as major supermarket chains and departmental stores slash prices by as much as 50 per cent every year to attract more customers. And the promotion can last a few days, not just on March 3.

The result is a 52.5 per cent spike in sales, according to Korea Bizwire.Who knows, maybe there will soon be a day for kimbap (seaweed rice roll), kalbi (barcecue beef short ribs) and bibimbap (mixed rice) too?

Register here to get free digital access to The Straits Times until Aug 9, 2015.
Comments