When the organizers at Curtin University contacted us to participate in a panel discussion on the luxury brands market in South Korea, you could say we were surprised. Sool as a luxury product? We have always thought it to be so, but it is certainly a conceptual leap from the long-held image of makgeolli being ‘the farmer’s drink’.
Preparing for the conference, therefore, gave us a reason to think more deeply into the concept of ‘Luxury’ and how it is being re-defined in the consumer market.
The Mystique of Luxury Brands Conference was held at The Royal Hotel in Myeongdong over the course of two days, combining panels of industry professionals and academics presenting their perspectives on the current luxury market and what lies ahead. The panel themes included Beauty & Wellness, Lifestyle & Culture, and our panel of Gastronomy. In addition to learning more about the consumer trends across these diverse industry backgrounds, it was a pleasure to be in the company of so many talented and passionate entrepreneurs.
The insights into what consumers themselves are looking for in a luxury item or experience was also eye-opening and inspiring. To summarize, we are seeing a shift in the concept of luxury as something beyond the conventional product, and more towards the idea of unique and meaningful experiences as must-haves. Furthermore, products that carry a rich history or unique craftsmanship are trending more than the designer items traditionally considered ‘luxury’ brands.
It’s no secret that we at The Sool Company are big proponents of small scale artisan producers, lending our support whenever we can to these guardians of traditional techniques. We believe that the future of the industry relies heavily on not just the survival but the success of these local breweries and distilleries. For some of these producers, recipes have been passed down through the family for hundreds of years, surviving centuries of challenges and hardships. For other breweries, decades of research and development often at great sacrifice, is the backbone of their identity.
If luxury can be defined as something rare, unique and highly valued, Sool most definitely can fit the bill.
At the end of the panel discussions, we teamed up with Daam Lounge to provide a wrap-up tasting of Omynara’s omjia champagne and still wine for all the conference attendees. All and all it was a great conference and we thank Curtin University for hosting and allowing The Sool Company to present our perspectives on the industry.
Julia is an Australian specialist in Korean Traditional Alcohol and has been involved in the makgeolli industry for over 6 years. She has been an activist for the promotion of Korean sool both locally and internationally after training at a number of institutes including Grand Master Park Rok Dam.