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For today’s appliances, small is beautiful

Manufacturers vie to appeal to couples and people living alone
Dec 20,2017
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Left: A representative of Dongbu Daewoo Electronics shows its mini home appliances line-up, which includes the Mini wall-mountable drum washing machine and The Classic refrigerator. Right: LG Electronics is selling a mini wine cellar that can store up to eight bottles of wine. [DONGBU DAEWOO ELECTRONICS, LG ELECTRONICS]
The market for premium mini-home appliances is going mainstream as the number of single-person households in Korea continues to grow.

Single-person households now account for 27.9 percent of Korean households while two-person households take up another 26.2 percent, according to data accumulated by Statistics Korea through August. Manufacturers are offering more small, high-tech home appliances to take advantage of the trend.

Dongbu Daewoo Electronics said Tuesday that sales of its wall-mountable Mini washing machine increased by 32 percent year on year while small refrigerators branded as The Classic series saw sales increase by 27 percent on year.

Mini, the world’s first wall-mountable drum washing machine, has a small capacity and takes up little space. It’s only 30.2 centimeters (12 inches) wide and can handle a maximum of 3 kilograms (6.6 pounds) of laundry.

Though small, the company used top notch technologies to get potential customers’ attention. At the end of last year, the company applied Internet of Things technology to the washing machine so it can be controlled through smartphone applications. Last month, a dryer feature was added, and models with 3.5 kilogram capacity were released as well.

The Korean electronics maker also produces 120 liter (32 gallon) and 80 liter refrigerators in cream white and mint green. The small size and colors were intended to appeal to people living alone who are interested in using their refrigerators as part of their interior designs. This year, over 1,500 units were sold monthly on average, according to Dongbu Daewoo.

Korean electronics giants Samsung Electronics and LG Electronics have also begun releasing products for single and two-person households.

LG Electronics rolled out the LG Dios Wine Cellar Mini. The wine fridge can store up to eight bottles of wine, which is smaller than previous models that stored 43, 71 or as many as 85 bottles.

While the cellar was released at the end of April, it became an instant hit according to an LG Electronics spokesperson, selling 1,000 units in the first month. The spokesperson said the device is popular with “single-person households and newlyweds.”

Samsung Electronics released a refrigerator catering to single and two-person households in May. The so-called Slim T-type refrigerator is not as small as those offered by Dongbu Daewoo. But it is smaller than Samsung’s premium “T9000” French-door refrigerator. The slim refrigerator offers 515 liters of storage.

“We released the product based on market research saying there is no premium small refrigerator with enough space to satisfy customers,” a spokesperson from Samsung said.

According to research by the Korea Institute for Industrial Economics and Trade, spending by single person households rose from 16 trillion won ($14.7 billion) in 2006 to 60 trillion won by 2010 and is expected to reach 194 trillion won by 2030.


BY KIM JEE-HEE [kim.jeehee@joongang.co.kr]