Korean food companies are catering to a new demographic: single people

2013-10-09 17:17

Food firms shift focus to singles

By Park Ji-won
Food companies are catering to a new demographic: single people. An increasing number of companies are changing their interiors and menus to target such 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. We also introduced a meal with one portion on Sept. 1, which is unique for us because we have been serving dishes for two to three customers so far,” Outback Steakhouse representative Lee Mi-kyung said.
In June, the Korea Institute for Industrial Economics and Trade said singles account for 23.9 percent of overall households. The agency expects that to rise to 33 percent in 2030.
Other food firms are also catering to the trend, offering smaller meals. 
Lotteria, a fast food chain of Lotte Group, introduced a delivery-only menu for single customers called Home Single Set in March 2012. The menu includes burgers and side dishes, according to Lotteria representative Oh Tek-yong. He said sales had increased some 25 percent from the previous year. 
Paris Baguette, a franchise bakery of SPC group, has released two small cakes adequate for one or two people. “Cake for 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, introduced single tables in its newest restaurant Cheil-jemyunso in Pangyo. The new restaurant, and its sister restaurant in Junggu, offer “shabu-shabu” menus for single customers.
“The shabu-shabu table for single customers was first introduced in August last year in our International Finance Center (IFC) branch and it gained attention from the media for its popularity with customers,” CJ Foodville’s Choi Se Yeon said.
“We will continue to follow this trend where our interior space allows for it,” he added.
“Many firms are likely to make products catering to single diners to find a breakthrough in the sluggish economy. However, I think firms should take a conservative approach to the market and not hasten to invest in it,” Samsung Economic Research Institute analyst Lee Joon-hwan said.

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Kee Koon Boon (“KB”) is the co-founder and director of HERO Investment Management which provides specialized fund management and investment advisory services to the ARCHEA Asia HERO Innovators Fund (www.heroinnovator.com), the only Asian SMID-cap tech-focused fund in the industry. KB is an internationally featured investor rooted in the principles of value investing for over a decade as a fund manager and analyst in the Asian capital markets who started his career at a boutique hedge fund in Singapore where he was with the firm since 2002 and was also part of the core investment committee in significantly outperforming the index in the 10-year-plus-old flagship Asian fund. He was also the portfolio manager for Asia-Pacific equities at Korea’s largest mutual fund company. Prior to setting up the H.E.R.O. Innovators Fund, KB was the Chief Investment Officer & CEO of a Singapore Registered Fund Management Company (RFMC) where he is responsible for listed Asian equity investments. KB had taught accounting at the Singapore Management University (SMU) as a faculty member and also pioneered the 15-week course on Accounting Fraud in Asia as an official module at SMU. KB remains grateful and honored to be invited by Singapore’s financial regulator Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) to present to their top management team about implementing a world’s first fact-based forward-looking fraud detection framework to bring about benefits for the capital markets in Singapore and for the public and investment community. KB also served the community in sharing his insights in writing articles about value investing and corporate governance in the media that include Business Times, Straits Times, Jakarta Post, Manual of Ideas, Investopedia, TedXWallStreet. He had also presented in top investment, banking and finance conferences in America, Italy, Sydney, Cape Town, HK, China. He has trained CEOs, entrepreneurs, CFOs, management executives in business strategy & business model innovation in Singapore, HK and China.

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