By Gitika Talukdar
Seoul, March 24 (newsin.asia): Soccer Applerind, the sensational brand in the world of sports apparel in South Korea, a major sponsor of K-League teams, is now globalizing. Let’s get to know more about the brand from the CEO of Soccer Applerind and General Manager of Applerind Football Club, Han dong Park.
The dynamic and young entrepreneur has taken his passion and expertise to another level in the world of sportswear in South Korea. It has beaten companies like Puma and Kappa and entered the K-League.
Here are excerpts from an interview with Han don Park:
From where and when did you start the sports business?
It started with football. I was a professional soccer player, playing for Pohang Steelers Football Club in 2000. I took retirement from soccer after a major injury during a match. After quitting soccer, I joined a sports brand company to learn more about the sports goods industry and the market. After gaining experience for 10 years in sportswear, I decided to start my own company. In 2014, I introduced the brand Applerind with a motive to provide best quality of apparels to players.
What has changed from when the brand started and now?
Our main goal has always been to be in business for the good of the industry. I wanted to made good clothes so that players can wear comfortable apparels and score well. It was a tough journey being a local Korean brand competing against international brands like Puma and Adidas. There were leading. There was a lot of competition in the market. We started with patent and brand registration for Plus 10 for Golfers in 2015. We sponsored the 2015 Archery Festival, and later on signed a contract for the official sportswear for the Korea weight lifting federation in 2016 and the Korea Taekwondo Association. In 2017 we secured a contract with the Hungary Short Track Team and partnership with Chelsea Harbour Club Fitness Centre and Shop launching. In 2018 we sponsored Pyeongchang Winter Olympics. In a major turning point we started sponsoring the Korail FC, Gangneung City FC, Cheongju FC, Yonin FC and Boeun Sagmu WFC. We entered K-League sponsoring Ansan Greeners FC, Gangneung Citizen FC, Yangju Citizen FC and many more.
What is the main characteristic of the domestic sportswear of market in Korea?
The Korean market is big, people mostly buy foreign brands. Slowly but gradually our brand is getting recognition. People are recommending our brand made in Korea using Korean fabric. Our Annual sales grew at 5 million USD per year. Apart from this, there is the consumers’ awareness. Nowadays, everyone is a lot more conscious of their comfort. People deeply understand what is behind the brand. This is helpful for our brand, which has always been committed to the sustainable approach. Today we are leading as a Korean sportswear brand in the domestic market as well as in global market.
Does sponsoring improve your brand value?
Sports is an area where sponsorship has made the greatest strides. At the heart of this is the unrivalled power of sports to create positive associations between the team, league or sportsperson and the corporate brand.
Sponsorship also works at a cognitive belief level, being able to influence the image and perceptions of a brand, which is amplified within the arena of sports. These, as well as general behavioural tendencies of the consumer, collectively influence attitudes towards a brand and ultimately affect future purchase intent. Thus, I can say that sponsoring teams are adding value to our brand and company.
What is the reason behind sponsoring players in various sports events?
We were sponsoring elite players. Most of them are in football, golf, gymnastics, ice skating and archery. Elite athletes are very sensitive. To improve their performance we are giving more attention and care to design and the fabric we are using so that it gives compression, tightening the muscles of the body of the players to make them comfortable during the matches.
What was the hardest part of developing your brand? On the contrary, what was the best thing about continuing the brand?
The hardest situation Soccer Applerind had to face was the Covid-19 period. The pandemic impacted the world in profound ways, and no place more than our beloved Korea. There were no national sports events for 2 years, our business was ravaged but still we came together and soldiered on, and through it all, my team and I vowed to work for even higher standards when it came to sustainability. The most beautiful part of our work was to see our business grow. We saw our contribution to sports and the athletes by providing good clothes to players.
What are your future endeavours related to your brand and FC Applerind?
We want to scout for Indian talent. I want to globalise my brand not only in terms of business but as a soccer lover, we would definitely like to give opportunities to budding talent in India by bringing them to Korea, giving them proper training and providing an International platform. Qualifying for the senior FIFA World Cup, getting back in the Olympic fold, being among the top 10 teams in Asia should be Indian football’s goals. I do believe that the tie-up between India and Korea will give birth to a few great soccer players.
Till now we have sponsored archery, taekwondo, soccer, weightlifting etc. up to Olympics and World Championships standards. In future to globalize I am willing to sponsor the Indian Super League, the Indian Premiere League, and the English premiere league.
What is your favourite sports quote which you think has influenced your professional journey?
“Never let your head hang down. Never give up and sit down and grieve. Find another way.”