SOUTH KOREA. The Shilla Duty Free is partnering with popular Chinese webtoon artists to boost its appeal to travelling Chinese shoppers. The travel retailer said that this is the first marketing partnership of its kind in the Korean duty free industry.

Webtoons have become an increasingly influential media tool to connect closely with consumers, Shilla noted. “Unlike traditional advertisements, webtoons use storytelling that is easily relatable while utilising artists’ existing fandom.”

The partnership with two webtoon artists, Niu Hong Hong(轰轰) and Ruo Guan(弱冠), specifically targets Chinese women in their 20s to 30s – The Shilla Duty Free’s main customer base (as the charts below show, visitors between 21 and 40 made up 57.3% of Chinese arrivals in South Korea last year and those between 21 and 30 almost 31%).

Shilla’s stores are being featured in webtoons and the contents promoted through each artist’s social media platforms.

Keeping in toon with customers: The Shilla Duty Free as you’ve never seen it before.

Real-time comments such as “I would like to shop there”; “I should visit there during my next visit to Korea”; and “I like the store interior” appear on the webtoons.

Besides introducing The Shilla Duty Free shops, the webtoons also highlight nine local eateries near the retailer’s flagship Seoul Store, showcasing the surrounding area as a local attraction. Since 2016, The Shilla Duty Free has promoted its local communities by introducing nearby restaurants through various channels such as The Shilla Online Duty Free in Chinese and its official Weibo account.

A spokesperson said, “The partnership with Chinese webtoon artists is a first in the industry. We expect to be able to connect better with Chinese customers. Creative marketing like this will be continued during the peak seasons such as Chinese Lunar New Year, the Mid-Autumn Festival and the National Day of China, to broaden the communication with our customers.”

Shilla said that we live in “the era of media marketing”. The webtoon initiative follows previous marketing innovations including extensive use of SNS platforms, K-pop ambassadors and inviting ‘Wang hong’ (Chinese social media influencers) to communicate with Chinese customers.

The Shilla Duty Free launched its 2019 Lunar New Year marketing campaign with a live-streaming event featuring ‘Wang hong’, Chinese social-media influencers, which garnered 30 million online views.

These two charts, courtesy of Korea Tourism Organization, underline the importance of the 21-30 age group to the country’s tourism and travel retail sectors. Figures are full-year 2018.