Anyone who uses the Internet or social media will have come across pictures of celebrities drinking coffee at a newly opened cafe or of people showing off their limited edition shoes. For trendsetters, there is a satisfaction in starting a trend whether it is material or a location. For other people, it is entertaining to try out so-called “trendy” items or visit those places.
As many consumers search for new places to visit and invest their time in, the blueprint of one industry taking up only one space is winding down. Instead, a new emerging trend is for more and more industries to coexist in one place. For instance, the cosmetic, fashion, and even food industries are doing collaborations to produce unique products that fit consumers’ tastes.
Rebirth of Space: Chamelezone
As chameleons are animals that change their skin colors freely based on their surroundings, Chamelezone is a trend that is changing the industry, regarding time, content, and various industries coexisting in one space. The ‘Laundry Project’ located in Itaewon is a combination of a laundromat and café. It created a new platform for people to do their laundry while socializing with one another.
Lee Hyun-duk, the founder of ‘Laundry Project’ said: “As online platforms become more widely used among customers, offline stores have to come up with ways to be more than a place where people buy products. To be specific, we have to provide something extra to attract the customers to our shops. Creating a place for activity or a sense of community is something that we could offer to the customers.”
Lee Eun-hee, a professor in the Department of Consumer Science at Inha University adds that, “The iconic American toy store ‘Toys R Us’ was deep in debt and had filed for bankruptcy in 2017. One of the reasons for this bankruptcy was due to its failure to adapt to the digital competition provided by online stores like Amazon and eBay. This shows a glimpse of what could happen to stores deprived of customers. So, it is very important for offline stores to go through some changes.”
Consumers greeted the changes in stores positively and became excited for new Chamelezone spaces. Consumers’ interests and demands are leading Chamelezone to become more widespread throughout the society. Professor Lee commented that, “For consumers, Chamelezone is an interesting and attractive place. A space is crafted in ways consumers could not have imagined before.”
One of the key factors that makes Chamelezone possible is Social Networking Service (SNS). “One restaurant can change the atmosphere and the type of food it sells from lunch to dinner. Thanks to SNS, people can be informed of how one space is used in what ways and at which times,” Professor Lee adds that, “SNS is also where consumers search for new places. Like children trying to find a prize on a map, Korean consumers like to experience new places that people have visited and posted on SNS. By visiting these places, consumers feel a sense of accomplishment and want to share their experience on their SNS, too. This in turn creates a cycle of new consumers getting interested. Consumers view Chamelezone as refreshing, trendy, and new.”
Collaboration of Products
The fashion industry is well-known for engaging in collaborations with diverse industries. Various product launches and styling suggestions have been made in collaboration with popular YouTubers, singers and beauty, jewelry brands. For example, on July, the fashion brand Handsome’s Systemhomme collaborated with the food company Ottogi. According to an article by Donga, titled: ‘Handsome and Ottogi’s collaboration’, Kim Eun-jung, Handsome’s director mentioned how this collaboration is expected to add a positive image to both industries.
Regarding the fashion collaboration industry, Professor Lee said: “Collaborations between industries make limited time only products. And these limited products cause people to try to buy them by standing in long lines and paying high prices. Thus, collaboration can work as a way to gain more customers. Since, it increases the brand value and creates a new consumer base. For example, Gucci as a high-end brand, has a certain consumer class. When Gucci collaborates with a hip-hop artist, however, consumers other than core Gucci buyers buy the limited edition of the artist’s signature Gucci bag. Once a consumer whose fond of the hip-hop artist buys the bag, he or she becomes a part of Gucci’s consumer base. Meaning, Gucci earns itself another layer of potential buyers.”
Lee Eddie, a freshman from the University of Wentworth Institute of Technology said, “Collaboration of products is a great way for a company to spread and maximize its brand image.” He added that, “Once I buy a collaboration product, the brand I was not interested in before comes into my radar. Thus, next time when I go shopping or have to choose between two products, I would buy that brand’s one just because I have a positive image of it.”
Changes in Consumers’ Characteristics
Millennials, also known as Generation Y, are highly sought-after consumers. Companies and stores understand the characteristics of these customers and try to capture them. As Millennials actively engage in social media activities, stores are coming up with ways to advertise to their potential customers’ preferences. Knowing that consumers actively utilize social media, most advertisements are placed there. Additionally, art galleries make photo zones where people can enjoy interactive art and take photos. SNS is also used as a way of showing personal accomplishments when consumers buy a limited product. Using collaborative artists’ hashtags, these consumers stand out and let other people know they have bought a special item.
The continued success of Chamelezone follows the change in consumers’ lifestyle. With education being more centered around experiences rather than simple memorization of content, parents are pressured to bring their children in touch with new experiences. Since it is difficult to always drive far away, Chamelezone has become a perfect place for parents to bring their children. This also applies to workers and managers who have time constraints. Kim Hee-jung, a restaurant manager said, “Chamelezone is an attractive idea for me since I do not have to drive far, yet the places I visit are exciting and new. I especially appreciate ‘29cmstore.’ It is the collaboration of a convenience store, café, and bank. Since I do not have a lot of time to run errands, I like how by visiting this place I am able to get many things done while treating myself to a cup of coffee.”
Meanwhile, collaboration products take aim at consumer demand for limited editions. Consumers tend to buy for satisfaction even if the price is slightly higher than other products. As the mobile game and character industries continue to grow, they attract people from other platforms. Consumer behaviors shape identity of people and determine their style. People are less obsessed with inexpensive products and prefer those products that can cost a little bit more but portray themselves better to the public. “The reason for waiting for collaboration products is because the product is unique while it is also good quality” said Freshman Lee.
“Companies should remember that they are service providers that offer convenience and benefits to consumers. They should also be able to make a product or provide a space that influences customers’ lives continuously, not merely as a temporary pop-up space,” mentioned CEO Lee. Manager Kim added on that, “Considering the positive aspects of Chamelezone like the convenience, excitement in the meantime saving time and money, it a trend that is certainly going to be even more popular in the future.”