Rise of retro: Cheong Kwan Jang rides “grandmillennial” trend to launch red ginseng-infused traditional snacks

By Hui Ling Dang

- Last updated on GMT

Cheong Kwan Jang is actively expanding its red ginseng snacks line-up to attract young consumers. ©KGC
Cheong Kwan Jang is actively expanding its red ginseng snacks line-up to attract young consumers. ©KGC

Related tags Ginseng Korea Ginseng Corporation Korea Snacks Trends

Korea Ginseng Corporation (KGC)-owned brand Cheong Kwan Jang is actively expanding its red ginseng snacks line-up to target young consumers amid a thriving retro craze.

“Haemaenial”​, or grandmilllenial, is a portmanteau coined from a combination of halmae​, which means grandmother in Korean dialect, and millennial. The term refers to the trend of young Koreans lapping up foods and other consumables traditionally enjoyed by the older generations.

Capitalising on this trend, Cheong Kwan Jang recently launched a range of snacks that are a reinterpretation of yakgwa​, a traditional pastry that is characterised by honey and ginger.

Named “Cheong Kwan Jang Handmade Yakgwa”, the snacks come with an apparent red ginseng taste and are available in four flavours — Honey Red Ginseng, Citrus Yuzu, Ginger Chu, and Injeolmi Chocolat.

According to the firm, Korean red ginseng is backed by many studies to provide a number of health benefits, including promoting blood circulation, improving immune responses, and supporting cognitive function.

It is also claimed to be an alternative to caffeine for energy-boosting, while containing abundant antioxidants to enhance body functions and prevent diseases. Notably, KGC’s ginseng is grown for six years to obtain the maximum amount of saponins in each root.

“Yakgwa is a difficult and laborious food to make because the dough and texture change depending on temperature and humidity.

“Cheong Kwan Jang Handmade Yakgwa’s base is made using a concentrate that contains our red ginseng and honey, which adds a twist to the traditional manufacturing method and is a taste popular among the MZ generation,” ​the firm said.   

For the Honey Red Ginseng flavour, its base is made with red ginseng and grain syrup, and the cookie topped with red ginseng slices to increase visual appeal. Injeolmi Chocolat combines soybean powder with chocolate custard cream, offering a simultaneous pop of savoury and sweet tastes.

Citrus Yuzu’s refreshing flavour comes from its citrus syrup-containing base and citrus fruit toppings, while Ginger Chu offers a fragrant and luxurious taste by adding jujube to the ginger and grain syrup base.

“Consumers can enjoy the richness of red ginseng, and at the same time, a flavour that matches with their preferences. This makes the snacks a good gift option as well.”

Cheong Kwan Jang Handmade Yakgwa can be found at the brand’s retail shops, its official online store Cheong Mall, and department stores in Korea.

Popularising red ginseng

Based on Ministry of Food and Drug Safety (MFDS) data, Korean confectionery products grew by 7.4% year-on-year from 2021 and by 19.7% in 2022, reaching KRW127.3bn (USD95m) in sales.

Additionally, domestic sales of yanggaeng​ (sweet red bean jelly) rose by 13.4% year-on-year from 2021 and by 12% in 2022, reaching KRW35.5bn (USD26m).

This was reflected by the popularity of KGC’s “Red Ginseng Yanggaeng Premium”, which sold 10,000 units within a month of its launch last November.

The company has been doubling down on popularising red ginseng through various product innovations and launches.

In January, Cheong Kwan Jang rolled out a limited-edition product called “Red Ginseng Ice Macaron” in collaboration with Lalasweet, a Korean brand known for its low-calorie ice cream.

Made with Cheong Kwan Jang’s six-year-old red ginseng concentrate, the macaron ice cream sandwich is packed in premium packaging and was part of the brand’s Valentine’s Day specials.

“Due to the retro craze, the shift towards consuming traditional snacks such as yakgwa and yanggaeng, instead of candy or chocolate, on Valentine’s Day is noticeable. In the future, we will continue to reinterpret traditions in a modern way and introduce products that are great as gifts.”

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