How many tissue makers, marketers or sales executives have ever seen tissue products being used as a “Premium Gift Set” that you would give as a housewarming present? Tissue producer Mirae of Korea has developed such an item, packaged in a high-quality colorful box with carrying handle, that includes a range of Mirae’s highest-quality tissue products: Toilet tissue, household paper towels, facial tissue and others.“
The idea,” explains Mr. Byun Jae-rak, President of the company which is officially called Mirae Well Life, “is to give people that are buying gifts for friends a very practical option that they know will be appreciated. In Korea, when someone moves into a new house or apartment, the tradition is that friends visit to congratulate them on the new residence, and at the same time they bring a small house-warming present. Since we introduced our premium gift set several years ago, the Mirae tissue products have become a very popular item for such an occasion.”
You can’t argue with the logic: A gift that you can be 100% certain will be used and appreciated. How many people have received presents that they simply never use? The Mirae premium gift set would certainly not fall into that category.“
We also have the idea that we can develop this line to be used at New Year’s when gifts are also exchanged between friends,” continues Mr. Byun. “And in Korea, since we have New Years, the Western one and the Chinese one, this could be a real winner for us if it takes off,” he concludes with a laugh.
OUTSIDE OF THE BOX THINKING.
The gift box isn’t the only novel way in which Mirae has approached the tissue business. The company’s Jal Pulineun Jib tissue brand has grown over the last 10 years since it was launched to take approximately 15% of the Korean roll tissue market. Considering that the dominant player in Korea is Yuhan Kimberly with a giant 40% of the role tissue market, Mirae’s achievement of 15% is certainly notable. The thinking behind the Jal Pulineun Jib brand, and how it has built a loyal customer base, is even more noteworthy.
EVOLVED FROM MONALISA.
Mirae evolved, through a complicated series of transactions, from the previous Korean tissue maker called MonaLisa which got into financial difficulties in the late 1990s. Then in 2000, a new company called M2000 was established by mainly sales people who left the Daejeon MonaLisa company together with Mr. Byun.
As the company developed, he explains, the growth strategy has been based on two simple principles. First, differentiation from the other players and products in the market. And second, only to offer very high-quality premium products.“
We were just trying to survive in the beginning,” says Mr Byun. “To get differentiation when we were just starting and certainly not in strong financial shape, I spoke with a friend who is very knowledgeable in marketing. We decided we would try a brand name which was longer and more meaningful than the very short brand names which are normally used on the Korean tissue market. We also wanted something that would connect with the emotional values of the consumer. Therefore in 2003, we launched the Jal Pulineun Jib brand name.”
WELL ROLLING HOUSEHOLD.
Explaining the meaning of the brand name takes a little, well, explaining. In Korean, Jal means ‘well’. And ‘Jib’ means ‘house’. The more complicated part is Pulineun, which has numerous meanings, including “unwind, rolling, solve, and dissolve”.
If you put it all together, it becomes roughly “Well Rolling House” which is the brand name, as well as the slogan that Mirae has used to successfully connect with consumers. The idea is that most people can identify with the pleasant and satisfying state in which you have a well rolling or operating household. In addition, the word Mirae means “future” in Korean, leading to an even more pleasant image of a future well rolling household.
STEADY, CONSISTENT GROWTH.
The strategy has worked very well with Mirae gaining both market share and loyal customers. In addition, to emphasize the ‘future good life’ part of its image, M2000 changed its name to Mirae Well Life in 2006.
Over the past decade from 2003 it has steadily added advanced new converting machines to produce the highest quality tissue products on the Korean market.
Turnover has risen from about US$50 million in 2003 to US$130 million in 2013. The company is also won numerous awards for innovation, branding and employee satisfaction as a great place to work. The Jal Pulineun Jib tissue brand has been named the best brand in the Korean paper industry for six years in a row.
Paper for the converting lines comes from a sister company Mirae Paper which is half owned by Mirae Well Life. Mirae Paper has three tissue machines making roughly 70,000 tons per year. The mill is located in Junju City, which is 80km South of Daejeon City.
Mirae has also been an innovator with respect to product development as it was the first company to make 3-ply bath tissue in Korea for the Korean market. That was a very big success for the company, although now several competitors have introduced the same, meaning that Mirae is not alone. But the fact that it was ahead of the rest with domestic 3-ply production gives it a strong position in the segment.
SELLING HOPE FOR THE FUTURE.
Looking at where the future lies for the company, Mr Byun says that he plans to remain true to the two principles of differentiation and high-quality products. With those as guidelines, he believes it will continue and perhaps even accelerate the fast growth. Continuing to connect with the emotional values of the consumers is the key. “At Mirae,” he concludes, “we like to say that employees don’t sell paper; instead, they are selling hope for the future.”
With that kind of philosophy, and track record of building a strong business, it certainly appears that Mirae has a very positive outlook for the future as well.