Rich cigarettes aimed at wealthy Koreans

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SEOUL--Korea's state-run cigarette monopoly, Korea Tobacco & Ginseng Corp., has launched a premium cigarette brand to shift customers away from popular foreign brands.

Foreign cigarettes were expected to claim only 12% of the Korean market this year. Amid economic recovery in Korea, however, they gained 6% more market share in November alone, according KTGC.

The new Korean brand, called Rich, targets "people in their 40s and 50s seeking good health. It's milder than other domestic brands ... and the name is attractive to consumers," says Lee Sang Ik, a spokesman at KTGC. According to company research, 67% of Korean men smoke.

Rich is also the most expensive domestic brand, costing about $1.40 a pack -- about the same as foreign brands. Korea's cigarette market is worth $4.2 billion a year.

Copyright December 1999, Crain Communications Inc.

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