Concomitant with the above stated, it is further important to emphasise that South Korea has been recognized for its economic expansion, which was in a shorter period of time than any other country in modem history (Holstein & Nakarmi, 1995). While economic growth was stalled by the onset of the Asian Financial Crisis, S. Korea has since recovered. It reported GDP growth of 8.8 percent in 2000 and 2.7 percent in 2001 (Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs, 2002, pp.1-3). Despite Korea's current economic fluctuation, it is still a major Western export market. In 2001, Korea was the eighth largest overall trade partner of the U.S., up from ninth in 1998 (U.S. Census Bureau, 2001, p.8). Korea is the sixth largest market for Western exports (U.S. Census Bureau, 2001, p.8) and the U.S. alone provided twenty percent of Korea's imports for the first eight months of 2001 (Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs, 2002, pp. 1-3). With increasing trade between the West and Korea, it is important for U.S. exporters who are targeting Korean markets, to understand Korean consumers' purchasing behavior.
Proceeding from the above stated, it appears that S. Korea may be receptive to Topshop products, both from the economic and the regulatory perspectives. To ensure positive reception, however, it is necessary that the marketing campaign be based on a solid understanding of the country's fashion market and Topshop's potential customers.
2 Fashion Market in South Korea
The market for imported casual clothing is especially important because casual clothing for both men and women has taken up almost half of Korea's total imported clothing market. According to Euromonitor (2005), imported clothing for both men and women held 41% of the total clothing market in 2004. At that time, formal clothing for women (26%). formal clothing for men (15%), clothing for babies and children (4), sportswear (11%), and golf wear (9%) accounted for their respective shares in the import market, as indicated in the graph below (Euromonitor, 2005).
Regarding casual clothing, the imports were from, in order, the USA (32%). Italy (33%), and Hong Kong (18%), as indicated in the chart below (Euromonitor, 2005), The biggest market share of imported casual clothing reflects the huge growth potential of the casual clothing market for international marketers and the extent of the threat with which domestic marketers are confronted.
The graphs and tables in the above communicate two important facts. The first is that the South Korean economy is receptive to foreign imports, as determined through its economic performance and its regulatory environment. The second is that the casual clothing market is a highly lucrative one, with statistics further evidencing the strong market performance of Western fashion. Within the context of the stated, one can tentatively forward the assumption that the South Korean market will positively receive and react to Topshop products.
In further reflection upon the information presented in the above, it is clear that some Western markets have a much higher share of the South Korean apparel and fashion market than do others. The UK is hardly represented at all and the United States is disproportionately so. The implication here is that