Korean home appliances enter Southeast Asia market

Korea's small- and medium-sized home appliance makers are making inroads into Southeast Asian countries, targeting middle-class consumers.

Coway, the country's No. 1 water purifier maker and rental service provider, is ahead of the pack, topping the water purifier market in Malaysia. Since its entry into the country in 2006, Coway Malaysia saw an average 118 per cent jump in sales year-on-year. The company tops the local market with sales reaching 97.8 billion won (S$120 million) last year.

"The firm's success stems from its rental service in which the firm loans a water purifier to a customer and sends a product manager on a regular basis for maintenance," the company said.

Juicer maker Hurom is also hitting the Thai market this year. The company opened a cafe in Bangkok's luxurious Central department store to sell detox juices and attract customers interested in health and beauty.

The company has opened stores in Vietnam, Malaysia and Indonesia since 2014.

The recent moves come from growing demand for high-end appliances and related services in Southeast Asian countries, an analyst said.

"More people can now afford high-end products and services by foreign providers," Kwak Sung-il, a research fellow at Korea Institute for International Economic Policy told The Korea Herald.

"That's where Korea's small- and medium-sized companies are finding potential profitability."

The rise of trade protectionism in China, one of the key export markets for Korean electronics makers, is another factor that is driving the small companies to new markets, the analyst added.

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