Monday, March 26, 2007


Back in the UK we had a weekly routine of going to the local Tesco for groceries, and when we found out one of our closest supermarkets here was Homeplus Tesco, it looked like little would change. But what actually happened was different; we ended up only going once a month at the most, buying what we needed on a day-to-day basis from local stores and street markets. Korea can be wonderfully convenient in that way. Recently we discovered a smaller sized supermarket nearby called Top-Mart and the last couple of times did our more substantial shopping there.

So a few days ago we got to Top-Mart, which like a lot of supermarkets in Korea seems to have almost as many staff as customers, to see said staff all wearing festive hats with tinsel around them as though we had walked into some bizarre Christmas flashback. In fact, they were celebrating the store's tenth birthday, even if the décor would have made you think more like it was twenty to thirty. Maybe the grunge look is just their corporate design.

As we queued at the checkout, we noticed that every few customers a group of staff that were loitering just beyond would suddenly rush up to an apparently random isle, shaking tambourines and generally making a fuss of the customer. The person in front of us was treated to such a scene and won a 5,000 won (about £2.70) Top-Mart voucher, and then the person right behind us. Sadly though, we were destined to be one of the seemingly four out of five who were unlucky. I couldn't help wondering whether this was another example of dubious Korean marketing strategies; it's all very well when one person in a hundred or a thousand wins something, but when you feel like every other person is getting something and you're not you can start feeling a bit badly done to, especially for Koreans who - in my experience - have the kind of competitive spirit that this strategy seems to fly in the face of.

No comments:

Post a Comment