LG’s out-of-the-blue appliance, HomeBrew, may be facing more hurdles than it expected. As a marketing strategy, the company plans to hold beer tasting events for the device. However, government regulations are making it difficult for the company to proceed with its plan.
HomeBrew is a capsule-based beer making machine that intends to automate and simplify the home-based production of alcoholic beverages. It was launched early this year by LG Electronics during the Consumer Technology Association CES 2019. During the same event, it won the 2019 CES Innovation Award.
A specific government restriction prevents LG Electronics to hand out alcoholic beverages as the company is not a registered alcoholic beverage retailer.
“LG Electronics is not a beer company but a hardware company, thus we are not allowed to sell beer,” said Song Dae-Hyun, president of the LG Electronics’ home appliance & air solutions division. “It is difficult as we need to sell the HomeBrew without offering consumers a taste of the beer.”
Although reviews from around the world had hyped the product due to its ergonomic design and acceptable to above-average beer, regular consumers are still wary of buying it. A beer enthusiast interviewed by Korea Tech Today expressed reservations from buying a 3.99 million won ($US$ 3,293) without getting a taste of its output first.
What Can LG Do About It?
Nevertheless, representatives from LG Electronics said that they are still doing everything they can to proceed with the marketing event. An LG Electronics official said, “We applied to the Ministry of Trade, Industry, and Energy for temporary permission earlier this month to be allowed to hold events such as beer tastings as we need to give potential consumers the chance to taste the beer made by the HomeBrew.”
Fortunately for LG, South Korean law allows some companies to bypass specific laws for short period of times. Under the sandbox system, companies may disregard some rules with the permission of the necessary government offices for the development of new and innovative products, services, and methods. The government implemented the policy after local and international businesses criticized the Korean government for overregulation. According to them, these regulations prevented innovation and new technologies to prosper in the country.
When asked about how long it may take LG to secure such permission, an LG Electronics official said, “We are not sure about the timing as the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy is considering the issue.”