[THE INVESTOR] Environmental changes such as increased fine dust in the air are causing a surge in the Korean dryer market, as consumers shift away from air drying their laundry to relying more on machines.
“As recently as 2016, the entire dryer market in Korea was only about 100,000 units,” said an official with LG Electronics, which has recently seen a spike in its dryer sales.
Units of the Dual Inverter Heat Pump Tromm Dryer from LG Electronics are loaded onto a truck for shipping. LG
“That market grew to 600,000 units last year, and this year industry estimates say that the market can grow up to 1 million units.”
According to the official, the culture of hanging laundry to dry saw a drastic change last year because of environmental factors such as increased awareness and concerns over fine dust.
Although LG has been producing dryers since 2004, most of the demand has come from overseas, with the Korean market picking up steam at the end of 2016.
“If you look at home electronics in general, categories that saw strong growth were related to health, such as air purifiers. Dryers were also a part of that trend.”
According to the e-commerce platform Auction, sales of dryers last year surged 474 percent on-year, after rising 104 percent on-year in 2016.
“Dryers definitely became trendy last year, as people began to worry about fine dust clinging to clothes as they are drying,” said an official with Auction.
Another factor is the changing preferences of apartment dwellers, with more people choosing to use their balconies as storage space or terraces rather than a place to dry clothes. High-rise apartments that do not have balconies or windows that open also contribute to consumers increasingly choosing to buy dryers.
“This is a market with a lot of potential, because unit prices are relatively high,” said an industry official.
According to Auction, best-selling models include the LG Tromm dryer, priced at around 1.4 million won (US$1,300), and a Samsung dryer priced at 885,000 won.
Buoyed by the growth, the top two electronics companies in Korea are adding innovative ideas to their products.
Samsung recently won the Best of Kitchen Silver Award at the Kitchen and Bath Industry Show 2018 for its FlexWash and FlexDry pair, which allows users to run several loads of laundry at once.
LG Electronics last month released a new model called the Dual Inverter Heat Pump Tromm Dryer, an upgrade of the Inverter Heat Pump dryer that reduces energy use and drying time. According to LG, the new model sold three times the number of units compared to the first model in its first four weeks of sales.
By Won Ho-jung/The Korea Herald (email@example.com)