10 trends that might survive the pandemic
The coronavirus pandemic that hit the world last year turned people’s lives upside down, introducing new practices and consumer behavior, including wearing masks, working from home and online shopping. Some still come off as a hassle, while others have become a part of daily lives.
The following are 10 trends in Korea that arrived in the wake of the pandemic and will likely last after the end of the spread of the virus.
The list was developed by Prof. Lee Hyang-eun from the service design engineering department at Sungshin Women’s University who co-authored a book titled "Trend Korea 2021."
The pandemic boosted the rise of home-meal replacements (HMR), a term that refers to various substitutes for home-cooked meals, from fully prepared meals to so-called kits with ingredients, sauces and directions. The size of the HMR market jumped by around 50 percent to 3.78 trillion won ($3.43 billion) in 2020 from 2.51 trillion won in 2017. The alternatives to home meals have become sophisticated and come in different categories. Since the products are replacing homemade meals, rather than just outdoor dining, their appeal will remain even when dining becomes a real possibility again.
As gyms closed, people started turning their houses into mini gyms and following the instructions of trainers on YouTube. Awkward at first, but it became commonplace. The digital world is flooded with decent health-related content. Subscription-based content providers like Peloton and Tonal sprung up to seize on the rising demand. The size of the fitness application market stood at $2.4 billion, but will likely achieve an annual growth of 20 percent to reach $20.9 billion in 2026. The major benefit of at-home routines is that they can be done without commuting and making contact with people, factors that will propel the growth of related businesses.
The practice of putting on a mask will remain in place even after the end of the virus, though it won’t be as widespread as it is now. The rationale is that many of us experienced the advantage of wearing masks, such as the significant reduction of flu cases. The existence of fine dust and bad atmosphere conditions will act as factors that continue the practice. Some — especially young people — cite the comfortable feeling that a mask can deliver in a crowd. But others opt to put it down because of inconvenience, such as ruining makeup and hampering communication.
Once set, the high standard of sanitization won’t go backwards because of the changed perceptions about cleaning. From cleaning hands to wearing masks and occasional disinfection, those practices will likely stay in place. The same goes for Covid-19-related etiquette such as coughing and sneezing into one’s arm and having no conversation in tight spaces like the elevator.
The coronavirus led to the declining occasions of hoesik, or company dinners and drinking sessions. With the warning against any type of gathering, there have been new corporate cultures involving early time dining and online meetings. Still, as outright disappearance of hoesik could hinder internal communication, companies will move to cut short those gatherings instead of ending them altogether.
Working from home
The vast majority of companies will shift to introduce working-from-home policies, though some companies would find it hard to do due to limited resources. Large corporations and tech companies will make remote working regular once they build the infrastructure and system to handle the measures. The move will also help corporations reduce costs for renting and maintaining the office.
Since social distancing rules strictly limit the number of wedding guests, small weddings have become more common. Until Sunday, the maximum number was capped to 49. It will increase to 99 starting Monday. Even before the coronavirus, budget-friendly, small-scale weddings were gaining traction, especially among younger couples. If a couple had a hard time persuading their parents of a small wedding, the coronavirus could be used as a good excuse. The shift will change the spending size for weddings and the standard for choosing guests.
Practical fashion and makeup
More people go for sneakers over high heels and sweatshirts and jogger pants over suits as they have fewer appointments. People also ditch the habit of wearing a makeup when out and about. The end of the coronavirus won’t likely cause this to end since comfort will still be a good option. In predicting this year’s fashion trend, the Samsung Fashion Institute said that consumers will keep placing themselves at the center of purchasing choices and prioritizing comfort and versatility. But others say that the end of the virus will fuel demand for more high-end formal wear.
Confined to the house all the time, many have become more aware of the value of nature. Outdoor activities like golf, mountain climbing and fishing emerged as popular pastimes because they allow for distancing more readily. The popularity of camping is also notable. The number of campers increased to four million, according to the industry, and the business size has hit 2 trillion won. Even if the termination of the coronavirus opens up skies for traveling, camping will remain popular thanks to there being less hassle compared to international traveling and the fresh air and great views.
To counter those who fear missing out, there are those who embrace missing out. Social distancing lets people learn how to enjoy things by themselves, and they will likely keep on spending free time on their own. Korean society is known for being harsh to those isolating themselves from a certain group, but the coronavirus resulted in fresh thinking on independence.
BY YOO JI-YOEN [firstname.lastname@example.org]