Selling the Bixi system in South Korea

Cour6 essai que j’ai écrit dans mon cours de Cross cultural management.

Selling the Bixi system in South Korea

“There are two types of mayors in the world: those who have bike‐sharing and those who want bike‐sharing” (Mayor of Lyon, France)

Green initiatives are popular. Bixi is green. Therefore it should be easy to sell, right? Not quite. But the mayor of the city of Seoul visited Montreal in 2009 and he is considering testing the Bixi (or a system inspired of Bixi) by 2011. Also, Seoul authorities are planing to build 207 kilometers of bike lanes by 2012 (Tae-Jong, 2008).

Korea lean toward collectivism (18 on Hofstede’s individualism dimension). Also, because of its collectivist values, it could take a while for that kind of decision to be implemented. Reaching a consensus with so many parties could prove difficult. For the the opposite reason, it is interesting that Boston (US) and London (UK) already contracted to install the Bixi system next spring, after only a few months launch in Montréal. Indeed, those two locations are really doing oriented cultures, as well as low uncertainty avoidance. The high uncertainly avoidance in korea could also impact negatively the adoption of bike-sharing. It is less than certain that using a bike is cool in Korea. Having a nice car is a high status symbol in that nation and riding a bicycle could be perceived as low status. To reduce the uncertainty and the social status issue at the same time, I would recommend to invest in an advertisement campaign, using major celebrities to endorse the product.

Also, Korea is known to be one of the most protectionist and nationalistic nation, so they could be tempted to develop their own system. In fact, there’s already a bike renting system in Changwon-si, a relatively small city.

And how to market the Bixi in Korea? The Bixi’s could also be presented as a way to save time : koreans get the least sleep among OECD countries (OECD 2009), so they could welcome this time saving. Koreans are also very health conscious : Korea has the lowest level of obesity among OECD countries (OECD 2009). Bixis could be advertised as a way of making exercise and stay healthy.


Klingner and Kim. Economic Lethargy: South Korea Needs a Second Wave of Reforms. Economic Summary Backgrounder (2007)

Tae-jong. Going ‘Road Diet’ for Bike Riding. The Korea times (2008)

OECD Factbook, 2009