The leading distributors in Korea work closely with retailers. Often, a distributor has particularly strong relationship with one retailer that means they can get new products listed quickly and they can get real-time feedback from the retailer about what categories are doing well, new product feedback, ideal price points etc.

However, the flow-on effect is that rival retail groups show a bias towards distributors who are prepared to work exclusively with them.

For this reason, it is common for a distributor to offer exclusivity of a brand to the retail group that they have the strongest relationship with. The period of exclusivity ranges depending on brand and company, but usually lasts from 3 months to 6 months.

Once the exclusivity period is completed, the distributor will look to expand to other retail groups and, in many cases, the best way to do this is by forming alliances with other distributors who have their own strong relationships with other retailer groups.