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Asia Minute

Asia Minute: Post-pandemic life is changing some consumer trends in South Korea

Virus Outbreak South Korea
Ahn Young-joon/AP
/
AP
Commuters wearing face masks wait for their trains at a subway station in Seoul, South Korea, Wednesday, Feb. 9, 2022. South Korea's daily coronavirus cases have topped over 40,000 for the first time, reporting more than 49,000 cases on Wednesday. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)

Masks are no longer mandatory in most locations in Hawaiʻi, but many people are still wearing them. Rules about masking are being eased in much of the world — and in one country that’s had a surprising impact on at least one line of business.

In South Korea, as the masks have come down, demand has gone up for one particular product: perfume.

Maybe it’s the increased likelihood of close contact with others or more people returning to offices, or some combination of factors, but the Chosun Ilbo reports that recent sales of perfume have spiked.

The pace of sales at one online shopping platform is double that of a year ago.

The market research firm Euromonitor is predicting continued growth for the country’s perfume market.

Researchers in South Korea have also tracked the impact of masks and the pandemic more generally on other kinds of consumer behavior.

A little more than a year ago, when masks were required both indoors and outside, sales of eye makeup were booming.

The owner of a cosmetics store near a Seoul university offered a special on eye makeup that targeted students going to job interviews, wearing face masks, of course.

The theory was that with the rest of the face covered, the eyes got more attention than ever.

And even earlier in the pandemic, the Chosun Ilbo found another eye-related trend with laser surgery.

The largest eye hospital in South Korea reported the number of LASIK surgeries increased by about 20% in the first eight months of the pandemic.

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