Asia Pacific Blog
Google and the Internet from .in to .au
DesignMaker: A Model Case
Friday, February 6, 2015
This post is part of
our regular series
of interviews with people across Asia-Pacific who’ve caught our eye, using the Internet to create, connect and grow.
Jongsu Son, Founder of
in South Korea
How would you describe DesignMaker?
We are a Korea-based, top online seller of custom smartphone cases, allowing anyone to create a case of their own design with photos, pictures of famous paintings, or work from independent artists. We also sell to Japan and the United States.
DesignMaker's hit Rubber Duck phone case series
What inspired you to start this company?
My inspiration was sparked by South Korea’s thriving smartphone market: Korea has long had one of the world’s highest penetration for smartphones, and more than 70% of the population owns a smartphone from a wide variety of hardware makers. Adding that to the fact that Korean consumers tend to switch phones more often than in other markets, and you have a huge consumer opportunity for creative custom cases. In fact, many global smartphone accessory brands are struggling in the Korean market because they fail to understand these unique characteristics of the Korean consumers. My company fulfills the need for a nimble player who can cater to this region’s fast-changing fashions and trends.
Jungsu Son, CEO of DesignMaker, at a recent Google Korea SMB event
What has been your biggest challenge?
Our main challenge is in keeping pace with design trends as well as smartphone lifecycles across all our markets. We need to adjust to the tastes and needs of different audiences in our home market of Korea, as well as Japan, and the US. Different countries have very different tastes when it comes to smartphone cases, just as with popular hairstyles or clothes. For instance, Japanese consumers like small and cute designs or characters, while Korean consumers tend to follow current fashion trends. On the other hand, US consumers prefer a design that they don’t easily tire of.
The rate at which customers change handsets differs as well. Unless there is no specific issue with the product, Koreans switch to another phone within six months, while Americans tend to use the same phone for about a year.
These differing tastes even carry over into the way we’ve designed our homepages for the various markets—DesignMaker's key strategy is to take a localized approach to each market.
DesignMaker's homepage for the U.S.
What does the future hold for DesignMaker?
We aim to target more Asian markets that have great interest in Korean culture. To do this, we are currently using
to identify popular designs, customers’ tastes, cultural trends, and the unique characteristics of each country. We also use Google Trends to analyze top search queries when we launch new products. A good recent example is the “rubber duck” case series, which caused a huge craze ever since a
large inflatable rubber duck
toured several Asian cities as an art installation. Our “rubber duck” collection has been very popular worldwide, and as a result of targeting our AdWords to searches for the rubber duck, the number of new visitors tripled to our site.
Artistically, DesignMaker is excited about its collaborations with artists such as Hyunjung Kim, a Korean painter, to promote Korean culture.
Posted by Jongsu Son, Founder of DesignMaker in South Korea
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