Transnational Marketing Journal

ISSN: 2041-4684 | e-ISSN: 2041-4692

Small and medium sized enterprise marketing to foreign consumers in Seoul, South Korea

David A. English
Gacheon University
Keywords: intercultural communications, foreign consumers, small- and medium-sized businesses, consumer language, South Korea.


A qualitative case study was used to examine the experiences and perceptions of foreigners during interactions with small- and medium-sized enterprises in the Seoul Metropolitan Area.  Two constructs, intercultural communications and consumer language, were used to identify difficulties that foreigners experienced during service encounters.  In-depth interviews were conducted with 10 participants based on a purposive sampling frame of 62 foreign professors. 

The transcripts were entered into MAXqda software and coded.  The data across all the cases were compared to identify patterns and themes that emerged using a cross-case synthesis. The implications included Koreans being approach avoidant during interactions with foreign consumers, and foreigners being treated politely.  Limitations of the study included the use of purposive sampling and utilizing participants only in South Korea.  Recommendations for practice included the use of signs and greetings in various languages, creating programs to educate SMEs about the use of English as a competitive advantage, and offering language and culture classes to foreigners.  Recommendations for future research include a mixed method study on the convenience level of spoken Korean for foreign consumers in high- and low-involvement service encounters and a qualitative multivariate regression study to further explore approach avoidance tendencies of SMEs.

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