Korea’s OB still at the top despite aggressive lager marketing by HiteJinro

2023.05.26 12:10:01 | 2023.05.26 13:51:41

[Photos provided by HiteJinro and OB]이미지 확대

[Photos provided by HiteJinro and OB]



South Korea’s top liquor maker HiteJinro Co. launched its new beer “Kelly” last month and has been aggressively carrying out promotions, but it has not been able to bring about a seismic change in the industry.

According to market research firm Nielsen IQ Korea and industry sources on Thursday, Oriental Brewery (OB) Co. accounted for 53.9 percent of the country’s household beer market in April, slightly down from 54.2 percent in March.

Its rival HiteJinro that launched a new lager last month accounted for 24.3 percent in April, up by a marginal 0.4 percentage point from 23.9 percent in March.

By individual beer brand, OB’s “Cass Fresh” dominated the market with a commanding share of 42.6 percent, followed by HiteJinro’s “Terra” with about 20 percent. Lotte Chilsung Beverage Co.’s “Kloud” took up about 5 percent and Kelly captured a modest share of about 3 percent.

OB continued its market leadership in April, demonstrating a gap of more than twice that of the second-ranked competitor in the household beer market, said an official from OB.

HiteJinro had maintained its leading position in the domestic market with its Hite beer brand until 2012 before giving away its place to OB. HiteJinro launched Terra in 2019 but the pandemic hit the country in 2020 and HiteJinro did not enjoy as many sales at restaurants and bars.

HiteJinro, in the meantime, emphasized that its beer sales surpassed those of OB for the first time in more than ten years based on the sales of selected large retailers such as Homeplus, Lotte Mart, and Hanaro Mart.

“The Nielsen data seems to have excluded the sales of light beers like FiLite, which are categorized as other alcoholic beverages due to their low malt content,” said an unnamed official from HiteJinro.

By distribution channel sales, convenience stores had the highest market share of about 40 percent, followed by neighborhood supermarkets 30 percent, large retailers 20 percent, and other channels 10 percent.

It has been pointed out that while large retailers account for less than half of the sales proportion of convenience stores in the beverage industry, HiteJinro’s claim of being the market leader based on data from selected large retailers seems questionable, according to sources.

OB said that although HiteJinro may have the upper hand in certain large retailers, OB still maintains an overall lead in the retail market.

By Choi Jae-won and Minu Kim

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