Table for One

October 11, 2013

Korean Food Industry Shifts Focus to Single Customers

Outback and CJ Restaurants Increase Bar Seats and Single Tables  

By Park Ji-won

The food industry in Korea is catering to a new demographic: single people. An increasing number of companies are changing their menus and even their interiors in order to better target and serve single customers.

Outback Steakhouse Korea, an American restaurant franchise, increased the number of bar seats for single customers at its Cheonan, South Chungcheong Province and Ilsan, Gyeonggi Province locations in July. “Following the trend that shows a rising number of single customers in the food industry, we also changed the restaurants’ interior,” said Outback Steakhouse representative Lee Mi-kyung. “We also introduced single-portion meals on Sept. 1, which is unique for us because we were focused on serving dishes for two to three customers before.”

They are not alone. Lotteria, a fast food chain of Lotte Group, introduced a delivery-only menu for single customers called Home Single Set in March of last year. Their menu includes burgers and side dishes. Their sales have gone up by some 25% since, according to Lotteria representative Oh Tek-yong.

Paris Baguette, a franchise bakery chain from SPC group, is also following the trend, as they have introduced two small cakes for one to two persons. “Cake for the Two of Us” was released in July and “Dessert Time with Mocha Cake” was released in June in an effort to attract customers who stay away from buying big cakes.

CJ Foodville, a food franchise affiliate of CJ Group, has introduced single tables in its newest restaurant, Cheil-jemyunso in Pangyo. The new restaurant and its sister restaurant in Junggu, also offer shabu-shabu menus for single customers. “The shabu-shabu table for single customers was first introduced in August last year at our International Finance Center (IFC) branch and it gained attention from the media for its popularity with our customers,” CJ Foodville’s Choi Se Yeon said. “We will continue to follow this trend where our interior space allows for it,” he added.

In June, the Korea Institute for Industrial Economics and Trade said singles account for 23.9 percent of all households. The agency expects the figure to rise to 33 percent by 2030.