Should We Control the Fun?1)
Consumers pursue consumption based on their tendencies, and companies establish marketing strategies considering these tendencies. And recently, distribution industries have released products that emphasize fun, which can be seen as catering to MZ generation's 'funsumer' tendencies. Funsumer is a newly-coined word that combines 'fun' and 'consumer'. Consumers who have become funsumers prioritize fun when deciding to purchase goods or services, and pursue fun in the process of consuming them. Professor Moon Junghoon, who works at the Department of Agricultural Economics and Rural Development at Seoul National University, said, "Consumers do not consume taste, but consume and share fun. They are curious about new products and constantly seek out new attempts," and expressed a positive outlook for the funsumer trend. Actually, products which are related to the funsumer trend have succeeded in targeting the MZ generation. For example, the flour brand Gompyo released a variety of products such as clothing, alcohol, and snacks to increase their reach to the MZ generation, a major consumer of economic activities. In the case of Gompyo wheat beer, it ranked first among all beers in convenience stores a year after its launch. Products such as yogurt and soda were released as jelly, and green onion-flavored cereal, a limited edition of the chocolate-flavored one, caught funsumers' eyes.
These products that target funsumers gave consumers unique experiences and, moreover, brought companies a friendly image. However, some have argued that funsumer marketing needs to be regulated, citing such products as chocolate in a box of shoe polish and candy with the same design as glue. Lee Hongjoo, a professor at the Department of Consumer Economics at Sookmyung Women's University, said, "Funsumer products suit consumers' tastes these days, but this could lead to dangerous marketing. As children may mistake them for similar products, producers should pay careful attention to the design of products first," and expressed concern about products targeted at funsumers. Actually, there was one controversial instance of someone almost drinking a diffuser shaped like a soju bottle that was released in March by Hite Jinro, the leading soju distillery in Korea. In the midst of growing complaints from consumers, the National Assembly approved the Funsumer Product Regulation Act on July 23. It includes the prohibition of potentially misleading items such as food. There are still conflicting views on this bill, but it seems clear that incidents should be prevented by highlighting companies' sense of responsibility for consumers' health.
1) Jang Minkwon, "Prohibited Chocolate in a Box of Shoe Polish…Funsumer Regulation Is Passe", The Financial News, July 13, 2021