Making a Transition from the OEM to the OBM in Consumer Goods Industry: Cases of Three Companies in Korea

후발 소비재 기업의 'OEM함정' 탈출과 OBM 이행 과정의 분석: 한국 3개 기업의 사례

  • Published : 2007.12.31


A typical small firm in consumer goods sectors of developing countries is an OEM supplier to big MNCs. Lacking design and marketing capability, a small firm relies on the MNCs for survival but their long term growth is not guaranteed as the MNCs are always looking for, and ready to relocate to, cheaper production sites. In this light, we can say that there is something like "OEM trap" from which most firms from LDCs find difficult to move out (Lee 2005). In this situation, one way for long term growth and catch-up is to make a transition to the OBM (own brand manufacturer). But, the transition is not easy or even risky. This paper analyzes the cases of three companies in Korea to find out common features in their successful transition to OBM. They are Aurora World (a flush toy maker), Hankook Chinaware (a chinaware maker), and Hanacobi (a plastic-made food container maker with the Lock-and-Lock brand). These firms can be commonly characterized by 1) arranging access to external knowledge base and steady increase of in-house R&D efforts and capabilities leading to acquisition of formal IPRs and their management, and 2) establishment of global production networks with factories in lower-income countries as well as their own independent global marketing network.