[REUTERS] Korea targets “golden singles” amid consumer slump

November 1, 2014


[REUTERS] As South Korea’s population rapidly ages, makers of consumer goods from washing machines to packaged foods and pet products are increasingly targeting people like Lee Dong-soo, who is 34 and lives alone with his cat.

Spending by so-called “golden singles” – young unmarrieds living alone – who splash out more on food and other goods, is a bright spot for an economy plagued by sluggish consumer demand that has lagged overall growth for most of the past two years.

“Compared with married friends, I spend considerable money on food, shopping and dabbling in new hobbies,” said Lee, a professional singer living in Seoul’s trendy Gangnam district.

The South Korean population is the world’s fastest-aging, and younger people are getting married later or not at all. The average age of first-time marriages last year was 32.2 for men and 29.6 for women, up from 27.8 and 24.8 in 1990.

Similar demographic trends have been taking place in many developed nations, but they have been particularly rapid in Asia’s fourth largest economy, whose companies are proving to be creative in their response.