Those who follow me know that I’m from San Francisco and now live in Korea. It’s been half a year and I’m going to share with my readers my experience on how Seoul views Health and Technology compared to San Francisco. Hopeful this will provide you with some market insight. Lets dive in.
Attitude Towards Tech Gadgets
I remember the days when I’d take the San Francisco BART and passengers were texting on their iPhones. Here in Seoul Korea, everyone is Kakao-ing on their Samsung Notes. Phones in Korea look huge! All my Korean friends boast about the size and specs of their phones, while in San Francisco, they flaunt their iPhones because, well, it’s an iPhone. The point I’m trying to make here is that there seems to be a little bit more focus on specs over symbolism in Korea. If you own an apple, you are making a statement. Every hipster in a San Francisco Blue Bottle cafe has an Apple product. In Korea, folks care more about having the “best”. Korea is more of a competitive culture rather than an individualistic one. One is driven by trying to be the best, the other is driven by the desire for freedom. I went a little too deep…I know…love me.
Attitude Towards Wellness, Fitness and Nutrition
In Korea, there’s a huge interest in things like Skincare and staying slim. Meals are typically not protein rich. Meat is also generally expensive here (No Chipotle Double Chicken Bowls here). To diet in Korea, folks generally just eat less. When Americans diet, they tend to track their protein, carbs and fats (macros) with the latest diet trends such as If It Fits Your Macros, Atkins, and Carb-Backloading to name a few. To be honest, I feel awkward asking someone in Korea “How much protein is in this meal?” It’s just not the norm here. Labeling and diet options are getting better in Korea but it’s nowhere near what we have in the USA.
In the US, when we think of fitness, we think of toned, built physiques that cannot be achieved by diet alone. In Korea, fit generally is lean but not bulky. You won’t see a lot of overweight people in Korea, but you won’t see a lot of impressively built physiques either.
Health and Hospitals
The hospital visiting process is amazing in Korea. They are readily available (you don’t have to book a month in advance). They text you before your appointment. They have state of the art facilities. The process is very structured which allows you to be in and out in no time. They go through many patients within a day and I think this speaks to the Korean work ethics of getting a lot done in little time. Most companies in Korea require regular Health Checks.
As for the US, we know too well that you can be sitting in the hospital waiting lounge for up to an hour and wonder why they booked us for this time slot when they could’ve just factored in the delay to your scheduled time. Also, companies in the USA aren’t engaged with employee health. US companies just provide the Health Benefits, and expect you to drive.
When we want to check out the latest gadgets, we go to Mashable, Amazon, or our favorite social media platforms. We look for Social proof on the internet. I was talking to a Korean friend of mine who mentioned that Koreans think that the internet and Social Media is a bit obtrusive and impersonal. Koreans use Kakao which is an app that allows you to chat with people you personally know without having everything on blast on the internet. That’s how messages go viral here. It’s not only about how many people rave about a product, it’s also about if the message is coming from a person you know. People are very involved in the decision making process of the folks in their circles. This is Collective Thinking.
I hope this provided some insight to the Korean Health Tech niche. Let me know if you have any questions about anything. If you like the content I bring to the interwebs, please subscribe for more.