Costco: Or how to become a popular establishment in Korea

Friday, June 13, 2008



I'm getting back to my regular blogging self. After coming off the fast, I had not really been into food. Shocking huh? Anyway, I've gotta a backlog of stuff I want to post on. Also I just got a new computer (an iMac...it's totally awesome!) so I'm transitioning from my old computer to new. Anyway, on with the blog

Koreans love service. Costco has a cafeteria and it is always packed wall to wall with people eating huge slices of pizza and porn star hotdogs. And every table has a huge plate of vinegared onions. I am not talking a little dollop of onions to put on the hotdog, no, no, no. I mean a huge plate, a mountain of onions-possibly two or three onions worth. I've seen many a paper plate buckle under the weight of alliums.

Anyway, my belief is that this is the main draw for people to eat at Costco. Without the onions people would just go to Outback and get loaves and loaves of brown bread. I feel that many Koreans equate service with generosity and generosity with a sense of friendship. I've been invited to dinner at my Korean friend's houses and I'm always overwhelmed with the hospitality shown. If I turn down an invitation it is generally because I realize how much effort will put out for little me.

Costco succeeded because it understands service. Outback understands service. This is why Walmart and Calfour (I know not totally, but they're close) went out of business here. Koreans need to be offered something free (or close to free) so it develops a feeling of closeness, a sense of Jung. I know that Kentucky Fried Chicken did all sorts of PR changes like pushing healthy options and changing the name to KFC, but I think what saved them were the "Honey Biscuits." I went there with many of my friends just to get the biscuits which were really inexpensive and nothing more than just dough and a bit of honey. Oh, and need I mention Krispy Kreme? They are so popular here mainly because of the "Free Donut" sign. They might get 1 donut for free, but many Koreans then feel obligated to buy at least a dozen.

Alright, those are my musings for the day. Are there other establishments that offer service as well?

Dan

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