Before diving into details, look at this YouTube video thumbnail of a woman holding a Chanel shopping bag, next to a man. This man is a famous Korean entertainer and an anchor, Sung-kyu Jang, and they are there to buy a Chanel bag. The Korean subtitle on the thumbnail says, “Bought a Chanel bag after 6-hour long wait”. That’s right, all the customers willing to buy luxury items must wait even before the opening hours of a department store as long as 3 hours prior. To get into the store faster, customers have to run all the way to the storeas soon as the door opens – this is called “open run”. This applies not only to Chanel but also to other high-end brands including Hermes, Rolex, Louis Vuitton, and more.
One of my friends went to the Rolex store to buy his watch to celebrate his wedding anniversary. However, no watches were available and all he saw was a watch display without any watch. A Rolex employee came to him and said, “We do not know when Rolex will be restocked. If you do not mind, it’s free to wait inside the store but please write down your name on the waiting list”. This implies that other customers were in the store until waiting for any watch to be stocked. He described that most of these customers seemed dumbfounded and annoyed.
Then why people are rushing to buy luxury goods? Why do they sit on the ground and wait in front of the store for hours to make a big purchase? Some people in the line are resellers who earn money by buying an item on behalf of others and receiving extra fees so-called premium. Essentially, resellers customers are willing to pay more than retail to get high-end items.
Famous celebrities are fueling the fever as well. Korean celebrities are usually sponsored by high-end fashion companies to wear their outfits when going to places where they get noticed such as airports. Photographers, journalists, and fans gather around them to take pictures and those photos quickly spread through social media and websites. Ultimately, most celebrities get caught wearing at least one luxury brand item in their pictures, exposing it to the public. As a result, the demand for luxury goods becomes higher.
Other reasons beyond the craze over luxury items vary, including investment purpose, pent-up demand, and more. Some high-end brands’ products biannually increase the price which implies their investment values. And due to travel restrictions, people have not been able to freely travel in and out of their countries. In the end, people decide to buy expensive items to relieve some stress from the COVID-19 pandemic. So-called “pent-up demand” increases the demand for a service or a product after a period of subdued spending.
According to statistics, South Korea marked the 7th biggest luxury brands market in the world, exceeding the total revenue of the German market. The market rapidly grew after the pandemic, and it has been surprisingly on a rising trend so far. Gucci recently opened the “Gucci Gaok” flagship store in Itaewon, Korea to further boost the demand. “Gaok” or 가옥 is a traditional Korean housing style so customers are welcome to enjoy Korean tradition as well as shopping at Gucci. Although Gucci is not the most affordable brand, you can join the “open run” and experience the luxury hype!