COVID-19 has caused many changes in everyday life and it seems to last forever. Only a few people are found without masks, and instead of going to school, students take online classes through Zoom, a video application. People spent their leisure time outside in the past, but now they spend time watching Netflix at home. As people tended to avoid direct contact with other people in many parts of their daily lives, and analysts have given this trend a name: “untact.”
The untact marketing combines the word contact with the prefix ‘un’, meaning ‘non-contact’. Therefore, untact marketing is a non-face-to-face marketing method that sells services and products without facing customers, which means that sellers provide goods or services by utilizing advanced technologies. In fact, this marketing is a concept that implies a kind of unmanned service that and has established an emerging consumption trend even before the COVID-19 incident. Untact marketing is also cited as a keyword in the ‘Ten Consumption Trends 2018’, released by Seoul National University's Consumer Trend Analysis Center. It indicates that this concept does not contact people directly while using fourth industrial revolution technologies such as artificial intelligence, big data ,and the Internet of things.
A typical example of untact marketing is kiosks. Kiosk refers to a snack bar that sells newspapers and beverages and refers to unmanned machines installed in public places for easy use through automation. Kiosk is the easiest and most accessible untact marketing in real life. These unmanned machines can be found in fast food restaurants, movie theaters, convenience stores, and even airports. In addition, untact marketing in the cosmetics industry is also drawing attention. Innisfree, a cosmetics company, has introduced untact marketing for consumers who sometimes feel burdened by excessive employee kindness or active service. Placing two different colored baskets at the entrance of the store, the green baskets stated that they meant to look around the store alone, and the orange baskets stated that they meant they needed help from the staff.
However, while this untact marketing can appeal to someone for its convenience, it is raising concerns about a future decrease in jobs as the machines take the place of existing human jobs and an issue of the “untact divide.” The untact divide is a phenomenon that people who are unable to adapt to it feel uncomfortable as the number of technologies related to the untact increases, especially among old people who are not familiar with the digital environment. In addition, a sudden increase in the number of consumers practicing home economics has led to the rapid increase in parcel delivery and a series of cases in which the health and safety of people in related jobs are threatened.
Although these untact culture or marketing can make some people feel uncomfortable, this untact marketing can be an opportunity for Korea to lead the world. For Korea to lead the world through the culture of untact, it should first focus on the remote control, robot and high-tech industries that are the basis of untact marketing. In addition, through its leading IT position in Korea, the research should be conducted to reduce the resistance of no experience about non-face-to-face activities as much as possible by directly applying untact marketing to areas essential to non-face-to-face activities such as education and industry. According to the Tong magazine published by the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy, people are reluctant to challenge new ones because of their resistance. That's why they say that through COVID-19, people can be given an empirical opportunity for remote control or robot industries such as remote-control education and thereby reduce the resistance to the new things, the untact industry.
Foreign Affairs Minister Kang Kyung-wha, in an interview ABC News, said, "We will not be able to recover our life previous Covid19. That's why we need to learn to live in danger.” Like her, the medical experts emphasized that the whole world would not be the same as before Covid19. Thus, the untact marketing, which is now drawing global attention, could soon become an essential element in human life. Therefore, South Korea should firmly seize the opportunity to lead the world with the untact marketing and present the practical measures to solve the problems caused by untact marketing and embrace the marginalized people.