Korea - BAT - winning the hearts and minds of customers based on tactics tailored to local tastes..

November 30, 2009 - British American Tobacco (BAT) Korea is doing really well because the subsidiary of British American Tobacco here has won the hearts and minds of customers based on tactics tailored to local tastes.

Ever since BAT Korea ranked first at the National Customer Satisfaction Index (NCSI) among cigarette producers in 2004 for the first time, the Seoul-based outfit topped the podium in five of the past six years. In particular, the company famous for such brands as ``Dunhill'' and ``Vogue'' won the annual accolades in 2008 and again this year, nudging past all of its five competitors, thus demonstrating that it stands out both in brand power and quality.

This boosts the market share of BAT Korea and according to research firm AC Nielsen, BAT Korea carved out 18 percent of the market during the third quarter of 2009, chasing only industry leader KT&G. The quarterly research found that KT&G is still the run-away leader with a market share of 60.5 percent, but the former state monopoly would not be happy with the result as it accounted for almost all pieces of the market in the past.

"When we first tapped into the domestic market back in 1988, people were not that friendly to foreign entities. That was especially the case when it came to cigarettes," BAT Korea Corporate Affairs Manager Celine Shin said. "But we have focused our efforts to meet the needs of customers by attempting to offer made-in-Korea products via seamless localization efforts. Our unique corporate culture also helped achieve fast growth in Korea," she said.

As Shin points out, BAT has pulled out all the stops in its localization initiative here since it first advanced into the country in 1988 as demonstrated by the establishment of its factories in Korea.

The company set up factories in Sacheon, South Gyeongsang Province midway through 2002, a first among foreign-based tobacco manufacturers in Korea. It currently employs around 270 workers.

The state-of-the-art facilities, which boast the annual capacity to produce 25 billion cigarettes, are touted as one of the best BAT factories in terms of productivity and management among 49 across the world.

See reference below for more information.

Reference: BAT Chalks Up Notable Success in Korea by Kim Tae-gyu
Staff Reporter, The Korea Times, 11/26/2009.

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