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Subscription services taking off in South Korea

The subscription services economy – through which one can periodically receive products or services instead of purchasing them outright – is on the rise in South Korea.

Rental services, which used to be represented by water purifiers, are now in their heyday as they have expanded to various items such as LED masks and dishwashers.

Major online shopping portal Gmarket’s sales data for rental services over the past five years showed a more than fivefold increase (448 per cent) since 2014.

Compared to last year, rentals of massage chairs increased by 435 per cent, clothes dryers by 111 per cent, and air purifiers by 106 per cent.

When dividing the rental service by generation, customers in their 40s accounted for 46 per cent of purchases, nearly the majority, followed by those in their 30s at 35 per cent.

People in their 30s and 40s who seek practical consumption and have relative economic power, have responded to rental services that allow them to rent products at reasonable prices.

The items available for rent have diversified. Various kitchen appliances such as dishwashers, food processors, coffee machines, air fryers and induction stoves as well as LED masks and pet products like pet dry rooms are available.

Rental companies are also introducing health-related products such as spinal-heating medical devices and eye massagers, as well as unique products such as painting rentals and indoor plant growing machines.

“Because products that can improve quality of life can be used without any initial cost and can be replaced with new products after a certain period of time, preference for rental services is increasing,” said a representative of Gmarket.

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