SEOUL: The appliance-buying patterns of young Korean couples highlight how society is changing, with sales of traditional products flat while trendy gadgets are finding favour.

Data from Lotte Hi-Mart, the electronics chain run by retail giant Lotte, shows that in the first quarter of the past three years, sales of products like TVs and refrigerators have hardly grown.

But products like robot vacuum cleaners and air purifiers have surged by up to 500% a year. And sales of steam closets rose 980% last year, The Chosunilbo reported.

“With an increase in the number of double-income households, many families now get more food deliveries or eat out,” said a Lotte Hi-Mart spokesman.

“Therefore more and more young couples are now buying smaller and simpler refrigerators rather than large high-end ones. Also, many decide not to buy TVs because everything is on mobile devices now.”

A disinclination to cook has not held back the top end of the small kitchen appliance market, where young couples are spending more on items like toasters, kettles and coffee machines. Sales of the Italian brand Smeg, for example, jumped 51% in 2017, even though its products are priced at over W200,000 ($185).

“Young consumers don't hesitate to spend big money on things that they think are practical and stylish,” said one online retailer. “Hair dryers or fans that cost over W500,000 and cordless vacuum cleaners that costs over W1 million all sell well among young couples about to get married.”

These form an important market, accounting for 30% of appliance sales during the high season.

Lotte recently announced plans to invest W3 trillion – half of that sum is earmarked for marketing purposes – to develop a comprehensive online shopping platform, bringing together its eight different online stores, including that of Lotte Hi-Mart.

Sourced from The Chosunilbo, Retail News Asia; additional content by WARC staff