September 04, 2018 13:01
There has been a surge in the variety and number of products targeting single householders as their ranks increase. This makes them an increasingly vital economic group since they are among the few who may have money left over to spend.
According to Statistics Korea, nearly one-third or 28.6 percent of households in Korea consists of just one person last year, and their number is expected to surpass family households by 2025.
"Education costs account for the bulk of spending in a four-person household, but singles don't tighten their purse strings when it comes to spending on hobbies and eating out," said Kim Nan-do at Seoul National University. "A growing number of businesses are targeting singles who hold the keys to stimulating stagnant private consumption."
Young people under 40 make up the largest proportion of singles at 35.9 percent. People in this demographic are adept at using smartphones and do 57 percent of their shopping online. Businesses target them with a wider range of mobile content and services that make online shopping and banking much easier. Handset makers are also increasingly introducing smartphones with bigger screens.
A staffer at SK Broadband, which runs the Oksusu mobile content service, said membership in the second quarter increased more than 20 percent on-year.
A sharp rise in eating alone is changing the landscape of online and offline food companies. More people opt for home deliveries, which has led to an explosion of delivery apps. Industry watchers estimate the food delivery market, currently dominated by Woowa Brothers and Yogiyo, at W5 trillion (US$1=W1,113).
A staffer at Woowa Brothers said rice-based dishes that are easy to eat for lone diners are the most lucrative.
Early morning food deliveries are another growth market, increasing from W10 billion in 2015 to W400 billion this year. Customers simply order ready-to-eat breakfasts, ready-to-cook ingredients and even coffee online and they are delivered to their doorstep the following morning.
Market Kurly said among best-selling items are ingredients in small quantities for a single person for dishes like doenjang or soybean paste stew and bibimbap.
Furniture makers are targeting singles with smaller items for studio flats like sofa beds. And goods are increasingly available for rent, from clothes and mattresses to massage chairs and even smartphones.
According to KT Economic Research Institute, the domestic market for rental products grew from W19.5 trillion in 2011 to W28.7 trillion last year.
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