20 (Tue) March 2012
Stir-Fried Sea Cucumber in Oyster Sauce
-Daechi, Gangnam, Seoul, Republic of Korea-
With respect to social commerce and the restaurant industry in Korea, I recently read that analysts are beginning to conclude that the coupons are not producing the intended marketing effect of bringing the customers back following the initial promotion. The main problem is that the glut of similar deals on the market allows diligent coupon clippers to try out new venues every time, never having to pay full price at any of them. Furthermore, the concept of up-selling – whereby customers order additional items beyond the value of the coupon – apparently doesn’t work in Korea, where customers are likely to migrate from place to place throughout the course of an evening out. As such, the transactions benefit only the customers and the intermediary companies, while the restaurant owners take a loss with nothing to show for it in the long run.
My colleague KHJ a social commerce coupon whore. Securing a choice bargain from any of the various websites that he regularly scours, he’ll go to the restaurant armed with the coupon and the full intention that the visit is to be his first and last. And then it’s on to a different restaurant, sometimes that very evening. The odd thing is that he’s rather cynical about the entire setup, believing that only mediocre restaurants are desperate enough to offer their menu at 50% off and that therefore the food is only worth eating at a discount. When asked why he doesn’t just pay full price for good food, he responds that it’s more fun this way.
For this evening, he’d purchased a 45,000-won coupon that entitled the bearer to 90,000 won’s worth of food, not including booze, at some otherwise unremarkable Chinese joint in Gangnam. The plan had been for a party of 3, but the 3rd member got held up at work, so the 2 of us had to manage. Given the ridiculous prices of Chinese food in Korea, an issue that I’ve ranted about in several prior posts, we burned through the coupon and went a tad over with a mere 3 small-portion dishes: stir-fried sea cucumber in oyster sauce, 38,000 won; jjajang sauce pork belly, 26,000 won; yuringi, 28,000 won. Absurd. At least on this particular occasion, I would have to agree that the food was only worth eating at a discount. We also upsold the tab with a relatively cheap bottle of Chinese liquor costing 40,000 won but didn’t feel like ordering anything more, not even a bowl of jjajang myeon to finish off the meal. We paid the difference and migrated elsewhere.
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