It’s not even selling… Competition for ultra-high prices for Chuseok gifts, including ‘330 million won’ wine
Major distribution channels such as department stores, large supermarkets, and convenience stores are offering expensive alcohol worth hundreds of millions of won as Chuseok gifts this year. It seems like a battle of pride is taking place, as if competing for the position of ‘highest value holiday gift’.
While people fight for ranking every holiday, the price of the most expensive gift has soared more than 30 times in 10 years.
Major distribution channels pay no heed to the criticism that it ‘creates a sense of discomfort during a period of economic downturn’. The original value of gifts that are given and received with affection is being diminished due to the greed of distribution channels to ‘sell the most expensive gifts’.
Major distribution channels finished pre-ordering this year’s Chuseok gifts and began main sales on the 4th. When they enter the main sale, they start by proposing what the most expensive gift of the year is.
This year, Lotte Department Store’s 18-bottle set of France’s finest wine, Chateau Petrus, took the spot as the most expensive Chuseok gift.
This wine is one of the representative wines of Bordeaux, France, a world-class wine producing region. It has appeared several times in major scenes of world history. Queen Elizabeth of England drank Petrus at her wedding and coronation. U.S. President John F. Kennedy and First Lady Jacqueline were also fans of this wine.
In Korea, it is known that Samsung Electronics Chairman Lee Kun-hee served this wine at the Federation of Korean Industries Chairman’s Dinner held at Seungjiwon (Samsung Group Guesthouse) in 2010.
Lotte Department Store prepared a set of 18 different bottles, one bottle per year from 2001 to 2018. The price is 329 million won.
Hyundai Department Store countered with the Madame LeRoi Grand Cru collection, ‘the world’s best winemaker in existence.’ Madame Le Roix’s genius was such that her legend-like anecdotes are passed down: ‘She put wine to her lips 15 minutes after she was born’ and ‘She started drinking wine when she was three years old.’ Show off your abilities.
Born in 1932, Mrs. Le Roi is now 91 years old. As there is speculation that her retirement is not far off, the price of the wine she makes is also skyrocketing every quarter.
This wine set prepared by Hyundai Department Store costs 149 million won for 3 bottles. In terms of price per bottle of wine, the Lotte Department Store set is far ahead.
Shinsegae Department Store bet on whiskey instead of wine. Shinsegae Department Store is selling only one bottle of Scottish single malt whiskey Bowmore 50 Years 1969 for 105 million won.
This year, convenience store franchises also joined the ranks of this competition. GS25 introduced the 100 million won Gordon & McPhail 1949 as a Chuseok gift. CU independently prepared the 60-year Glen Grant worth 34 million won.
Fine wine or highly acidic whiskey are as popular holiday gifts as ribs and meat sets. In particular, since it is not large and heavy and has a clear brand, there has long been a large group of consumers who prefer it as a gift for adults.
However, it has not been long since ultra-expensive alcohol worth hundreds of millions of won appeared in the holiday gift market.
Before 2010, French cognac Louis XIII was a regular on the list of most expensive holiday gifts. This cognac has a history of appearing on a list of bribes for the son of a former president and a member of the National Assembly, causing controversy over whether it was a gift or a bribe. Although it is such a symbolic alcohol, it was sold for around 3 million won as a holiday gift in 2008. According to the National Statistical Office, the current currency value is about 4.3 million won.
Even 10 years ago, alcohol priced over 10 million won was far from a holiday gift. On Chuseok 2013, the American cult wine Screaming Eagle and Harlan Estate set, worth 5.6 million won, introduced by Hyundai Department Store took first place.
Cult wine refers to a wine with an enthusiastic following due to its outstanding taste and small production volume that makes it difficult to obtain. The following year, a 9.9 million won French Chateau Mouton Rothschild wine set took over its place.
In terms of price alone, the most expensive gift set over the past 10 years has jumped 33 times, from 9.9 million won to 329 million won.
Kim Joo-han, a bartender at Blue Brick in the U.S., said, “Before Korea’s liquor market grew, there was a psychological threshold that said, ‘No matter how good the liquor is, it’s difficult to spend more than 10 million won.’” He added, “Afterwards, some consumers treated alcohol as an investment tool, and rare liquor was distributed only to major countries.” “As alcohol began to enter our country, this price limit rose,” he said.
Distributors are working hard to secure hard-to-find, high-priced alcoholic beverages first. However, not everything that is difficult to obtain is sold. In fact, in most cases it is not sold.
A representative example is the 79 million won DRC Romanée Conti, which GS25 released on a large scale during Chuseok last year.
The same goes for the 6-liter Louis XIII Matusalem set introduced by Lotte Hotel Signiel Busan in 2021. This cognac set, along with a decanter made by a craftsman, came with a price tag of 240 million won. No one bought it at that price.
From the perspective of convenience stores and hotels, these ultra-expensive alcoholic beverages, which cost tens to hundreds of millions of won, are not specifically products for sale. It’s more like a bait product designed to impress people that they sell holiday gifts that are just as good as department stores. There is no burden on inventory as there is no direct purchase of high-priced alcoholic beverages, but rather an intermediary and distribution system between importers and sellers and consumers.
The situation is no different at department stores. If you take the top spot as the most expensive holiday gift, you can build up the image that you ‘sell more expensive products than anywhere else.’
In this process, fresh ideas are lost. The highest price Petrus set sold at Lotte Department Store this year is identical to the product composition sold by Hyundai Department Store last Lunar New Year. At that time, Hyundai Department Store offered the same Petrus set for 340 million won.
An importer who requested anonymity said, “It is a back-and-forth structure, with Petrus taking over the previous position of Romanée-Conti, and now Leroi pushing Petrus out,” adding, “We have a reputation that everyone knows, quality that is acceptable, and a price that is difficult for anyone to buy.” “This is because there are only a few types of alcohol available in the Korean market, so I chose a well-known wine,” he pointed out.
The battle of pride that major distribution channels, such as department stores, engage in over high-priced mainstream products ultimately falls on consumers. The more expensive a holiday gift is, the better it is received. The price is not reduced just because it is part of 메이저사이트a set. In fact, there are cases where prices are much higher than the international market price.
For example, a considerable amount of Chateau Petrus, brewed between 2001 and 2018, is being traded in international markets such as France, the UK, Hong Kong, and Japan. The price per bottle is also traded within the global average price of 8 million won, even based on the year when the quality was excellent. Considering the average price, you can buy it for around 200 million won, including the tariff on wine.
Major overseas auction houses and major wine merchants sometimes send people directly to deliver wine to individual consumers making transactions on this scale. The service is as good as that of Korean department stores.
In an interview with Chosun Biz, Shogo Ikeda, a liquor marketing manager at Fuji E Trading, a Japanese distribution company, said, “In Japan, gifts are given out on Obon (August 15 in the solar calendar) or New Year’s Day like in Korea, but after the collapse of the bubble economy, there is competition for ultra-high-priced gifts at department stores. “The trend is not to do so,” he said. “Instead, the key factors in judging the competency of a product planner (MD) are how practical the gift is at the same price and whether it is a gift that the recipient needs.”
This means that competition that simply boasts of high-priced products without anyone buying them and without even price competitiveness is meaningless for both distribution channels and consumers.