|THE LEADING trend of 2006: FUNOLOGY. Don't get it? Here's a
hint: FUN + Technology. Still don't get it? Pay attention, this word could
make you next year's smartest consumer or most successful businessman.
"FUN" is literally everything that attracts
people's interest and brings laughter. "Technology", usually referring to
methods or systems related to science, actually extends to all businesses
- meaning, everything. The combination of these two terms gives birth to a
trend where fun becomes the main interest of both buyers and sellers:
Funology, and its leading marketing strategy, FUN
Know the FUN!
Marketing, the rising trend of the business world, has introduced a new standard
for choosing one product over another. "Today, it is hard to distinguish
products by simply judging the "hardware", that is, the quality or the value,"
says Lee Yeon-su, researcher at the LG Economic Research Institute. "It is time
for Sensibility Marketing." In short, it does not matter how good the quality
is; if it fails to catch people's senses, it is as good as dead.
marketing is all about stimulating the senses. Take publicity for example: Many
commercials now simultaneously advertise the product and generate interest while
making people laugh. A good example is the "Horizontal-instinct" cell phone
commercial series. In one, people wear vertical glasses, as the slogan
"Horizontal-instinct" scrolls horizontally. Also, teaser advertisements such as
the classic "Sun-young, I love you" are also a good way of attracting attention.
"It is not easy to decide which specific kind of advertisement is suitable for
today's generation," says Kim Ju-hwa, member of the Y.A.C, an advertisement
dongharee. "However, we can feel that companies spend a lot of time on
commercials and try to appeal through image and sensibility." Indeed, publicity
is expected to get more and more diverse and interesting.
Of course, FUN
affects the product itself too. Original ideas transform everyday items into new
interesting concepts. For example, the "boyfriend pillow" a pillow made like a
man's shoulder- attracted a lot of attention when it first appeared. Other
original items are also produced such as the Cup-ramen time-measurer.
Live the FUN!
|▲ New and
|Unlike earlier advertisments which
focused mostly on product image, recent commercials use "Fun" as their
yes, the real FUN lies in the shopping experience itself. The enterprises did
not miss this point. The cosmetics shop Toda Cosa for instance, allows visitors
to test their products freely. "Before, employees kept bothering me, but now I
can look, test and choose everything by myself," says Park Ae-young, a frequent
visitor in her mid-twenties. Vianni, a shoe shop, changes its display every
other week to offer consumers a new experience every visit. "This is what
we call fun experience marketing," explains Lee. "It allows consumers to have an
enjoyable time while shopping."
Apart from shopping, people can now "live
the FUN" while enjoying a nice dinner outside. "Before, restaurants were mostly
judged by either the menus or the atmosphere, but now some provide entertainment
such as magic shows. The clients can thus experience a unique show," says
Public Competitions are another good way to allow consumers to
participate in the fun of marketing. The shoe company Young Age hosts a "Young
Age Fun & Free Idea Contest" every year, in which people submit an original
shoe design or a commercial idea to advertise YA. "We judge the contestants'
designs based on how fun they are, how realistic they are, and how new the
concepts are," explains Han Jung-il (Manager, YA Marketing Team). Since 2002, YA
has used this contest to attract new customers. "The contest encourages clients
to come and visit more often and thus enjoy the newly made changes," explains
Han. Because the winning prizes are either directly reflected in the store's
publicity campaign or used in their marketing studies, more and more people are
Lighting up the hard times
|Many cosmetic shops allow clients to
"play" with their products.|
Although the term
Funology only appeared a year ago, the tendency to captivate the busy crowd with
FUN has always been a business's favorite. Why then does a simple strategy get
the spotlight all of a sudden?
Boldly put, companies need to survive during
hard times. The most useful new tactic to vanquish this hardship seems to be
FUN. "Although Korea's national financial situation is getting better, the
general population does not feel so," explains Choi Min-ho, Market Researcher at
IFNetwork, a Trend Information Consulting company. Lee adds, "Korea has been
through a domestic economic dullness. People naturally keep their wallet well
shut. Companies thus feel the need to induce these people to open up again. The
best way so far is using a bright and fun approach."
Is FUN Marketing then a
simple fast-selling strategy? Not exactly. "Consumers too require fun from
companies," assures Choi. "Now, the new generation is into fun seeking," states
Lee. "Unlike before, people get interested in anything that is fun, whether or
not it is important." This tendency was first demonstrated on the Internet. "The
Internet floods today's consumers with new information and trends," says Choi.
"Fun items are no exception. People thus get easily bored and avoid the 'norm'."
In short, people are always ready to welcome any fresh and amusing new
FUN can be
|Flashy displays try to attract
clients, but can the products live up to their
Despite the efforts made by companies to please the public,
some are a bit clumsy right now. "Some enterprises are trying hard to be fun.
But simply saying that 'this is Funology' doesn't make it automatically FUN,"
says Choi. His point of view is that some Korean companies are so anxious to
imprint the word "fun" in people's mind that they forget that real Funology is
when consumers themselves get interested and voluntarily participate.
brings concerns about whether this type of marketing is actually effective. FUN
marketing aims at captivating people's attention in a short matter of time. It
can therefore easily degenerate into mere amusement. "People still regard 'fun'
as a one-time, bizarre experiment or game. That is why fun marketing is very
fragile. Even if it can attract consumers attention, it might not be able to
make then pay anything," explains Lee. This is especially so if the companies
consider FUN more important than the products' quality or value. In fact, when
asked about the quality of the so-called fun products, several customers
expressed discontentment: "Sure, the shoes are pretty and they are not very
expensive, but they don't last for long," says a young student about the Vianni
shoes. Another pointed out that although she often visits the dcx store for its
cute items, she doesn't buy much because they break down easily.
this trial, YA plans a contest as a long-running event combining "Fun" and
"Free". Indeed, the YA Prize Contest is far from being just about designing FUN
shoes. With each contest's results, feedback on the young generation's balanced
thoughts and more practically, on footwear can be obtained. Only constant
feedback between the consumers and the businesses can allow FUN Marketing to
Expanding the FUN
To satisfy the public desire, businesses need to be aware
of upcoming new trends, become a "Trend Catcher". Choi believes Funology will be
applied in more diverse fields in concurrence with new trends. For instance:
"Simplicity", which emphasizes technological simplicity in products (one example
is the "I-pod Shuffle" that discarded all unnecessary complex functions). One
might think that simplicity and the fun-seeking concept are somewhat
incompatible. However, combined these two combined can give birth to a new
trend: "FUN and Simple".
Although the main target of funology is the
younger generation now, it needs to enlarge its market and spread to all age
groups. "Each generation has its own definition of fun," says Lee "But no
generation refuses fun. If the market expands and marketing styles improve,
Funology will become a trend enjoyed by everybody."
Long live FUN!
Funology may not be totally en-place yet,
but it seems like it is here to stay for a while. The reason is quite simple,
really. As Choi puts it, "Who would say no to fun?" He even emphasizes that this
trend will not end as a simple passing "fad". "It might hold back for a while,
but the present marketing trend will not easily wither," explains Choi. "Even if
some companies have not reached the right level yet, they will have to try
because consumers will keep demanding fun."
So, here you are. If you use the
type of big-character pens, enjoy putting on make-up for free in Toda Cosa, and
love dinner during a magic show, then you are already living the fun life. If
you are not that type yet, why not try injecting life with some FUN!