SALES OF TRADITIONAL KOREAN LIQUORS TRIPLED IN 5 YEARS WITH GEN Z SUPPORT
By Siulan Law Mathews DipWSET
Source: Seoul Tourism Organisation
Young drinkers in South Korea are falling in love with traditional Korean liquors, leading to sales of this category tripling in the past five years.
The most popular traditional liquors in South Korea are soju, makgeolli, cheongju and various types of fruit wines.
Soju is a clear spirit distilled from grain with alcohol content from about 13 percent to 53 percent. Makgeolli is a milky and lightly sparkling rice wine which tastes slightly sweet and tangy. While cheongju is a makgeolli which has been brewed longer and filtered for a more refined taste.
With the support of Gen Z consumers, sales of South Korean traditional liquors grew from WON40 billion (USD31.1m) in 2017 to WON94.2billion in 2021, according to government data.
The phenomenal growth is partly fuelled by the entrance of young entrepreneurs to the traditional liquor market, who successfully gave the once-outdated products a new face-lift.
These young entrepreneurs injected new dynamism into the market, leading to the development of a wider product range, attractive packaging and more cocktails mixed with traditional liquors.
"Makgeolli and other traditional liquor used to have an outdated image," said one office worker in Seoul.
"But now those liquors are sold in cans and bottles with modern and beautiful labels. They are now a popular gift," she added.
Given that traditional Korean liquors are cheaper than whisky and other western spirits, but no longer viewed as outdated by young Koreans, their sales has a lot of room to rise from the current level.
(the writer can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org)
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