Martin Runschke recently relocated from Germany to South Korea to take on his new role as General Manager (GM) of Electrolux South Korea. He shares his experience joining the fast-paced, competitive market and his plans for the business.
You previously worked for Electrolux in Business Area Europe. What experience are you bringing with you to your new role as GM of South Korea?
Yes, I joined the Electrolux team in Germany in 2017 as Head of Product Line Laundry and then I led the sales team for our Electrical Retail channels in Germany for over three years.
During that journey, we turned around the business to record profitability, fixed customer relationships and came together extremely closely as a team. It was a great time for which I’m very thankful and which I will definitely not forget.
What brought you to the role of GM in South Korea?
I’ve had a long connection with South Korea, having first come here many years ago as an exchange student. Later, my first job after university was in the capital Seoul. So, naturally I was excited to have the opportunity to return and lead our business here.
How have your first three months in South Korea been?
Fast paced to say the least! Thankfully, because of my previous exposure to the country and culture as well as the warm welcome from the team, I had very little trouble adapting. We have a very good team that came together really fast to define our strategy and we went right into execution mode, so we’ve accomplished a lot in a short amount of time.
I also love our brand-new office in Seoul that we moved to in July.
How do you view the business in South Korea – what are the challenges and what are the drivers for success?
Korea is a big, fast-changing, unique and very competitive market. In almost every category, the premium part of the market is significantly bigger than the entry part. We want to take advantage of this market structure and leverage on our brand history here.
Korean consumers are also extremely demanding and often set trends that only years later swap over to Europe and other areas of the world.
The challenges we face are also opportunities. Historically, we have been very focused on Floorcare products. Our South Korea turnaround game plan includes pricing discipline, a step-change in mix, faster growth in eCommerce and D2C – as well as shifting the business towards premium major appliances and expanding in Air Care to build profitable growth.
What do you hope to achieve in the coming months?
So far South Korea has been an Electrolux-only market so we are excited to launch our premium brand AEG in 2023.
To win in this very challenging market, it’s important to us to showcase the very best in products we have to offer from Electrolux and soon AEG and we’re confident that we will be able to do that with our latest innovations in Taste, Care and Wellbeing.
If there is one thing you would like to tell readers about South Korea, what would that be?
Over the last decades, South Korea has grown at breakneck speed and is now the world’s 10th largest economy. It’s among the world’s most technologically advanced and digitally connected countries and digitalization penetrates everyday life. It makes it an extremely exciting market to work in.
Based: Seoul, Korea
Background: Prior to Electrolux, worked at Dyson, Wacom, LG, Hyundai.
Passionate about: Cats, food, coffee.
What drives me: Achieving results, making progress, seeing teams & people succeed.
My favorite thing about Korea: The food.
Electrolux South Korea
No of employees: 67 (2021)
Best-selling categories: Floor Care
Brands: Electrolux, and AEG coming soon in 2023.