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Marketing of secretiveness catches on

Posted June. 17, 2013 04:53,   


Bolt82, which opened in January this year, has no signboard or guidance for the store. “The selling point of my store is to enable people to drink whisky in a secretive space,” said Ma Seo-woo, owner of the shop. “We have not put a signboard, nor are we doing any activities to promote the store.”

○ Businesses hide their identities

Introducing countless marketing tactics and maximizing the exposure of their brands is a general public relations strategy generally used by the distribution and dining industries. But instead, some players are recently moving to minimize their publicity, with some stores placing no signboards and selling products whose brand names are deleted from the label. This derives from the idea that it would be more effective to hide their identity amid floods of marketing and information.

Stores without signboards are emerging in areas frequented by young generations, including those in Hannam-dong and Itaewon in Yongsan district, Hongik University area in Mapo district, and Cheongdam-dong in Gangnam district. Mesiya, Japanese home recipe restaurant in Itaewon, has no signboard. Despite only 10 seats, it is so popular that patrons make a queue to dine here.

“We live in an era when people don`t bother to visit gourmet restaurants just to have a meal,” said the shop’s owner Kim Geon-hee. “Even without a signboard or PR measure, people will come if the store offers quality contents.”

○ Firms that do not disclose brands

Hiding identity is a marketing and sales strategy as well. Experts say that it is “hide-and-seek marketing,” in which they elevate recognition of their presence by concealing their identities. “Not providing details can seem to be an unkind thing to do, but it entails many different strategies, including viral marketing, which is aimed at words-of-mouth marketing in a natural fashion via online, and teaser marketing to induce curiosity among people, and VIP marketing to target only selected people,” said Yeo Jun-sang, business management professor at Dongguk University.

Conglomerates in the distribution industry are proactively introducing such strategy as well. “Fashion 5,” a dessert café opened by SPC in Itaewon in 2007, has still no signboard in its sixth year. The shop seeks to receive only selected few patrons, increase quality of service and thus maintain its upscale image.

Hyundai Department Store recently launched “Royal Mile,” men’s boutique accessory shop, but it hardly disclosed logos and brands of luxury brand goods on sale. Products from 30 brands are on display at the shop, including belts, mobile phone cases and stationary. “This strategy has positive impact on sales because consumers only focus on products,” said Lee Seong-hwan, a buyer at the department store’s merchandise division.

In foreign countries, many shops with no signboards, including small clothing stores in the Soho district in New York, the U.S. and famed ramen stores in Tokyo, Japan, are considered time-honored hotspots.

“This trend could be interpreted that amid intensifying marketing competition, people no longer trust messages from companies,” said Jeong Ji-hye, a senior researcher at the LG Economic Research Institute. “Businesses should elevate the quality of contents and service all the more in times like this.”