Will Untact Marketing Lead to Untact Relationships?1)
As the world welcomes in a new era called the “Fourth Industrial Revolution”, rapid change can be seen in all sectors and areas of society. One major change is the close-to-home change in local stores, restaurants, cafés, shopping malls, and schools. There is new autonomous technology or robot technology that has been spreading over the last few years. With improved technology in the perfect social setting, marketing is affected. Untact marketing became common place. “Untact” a newly coined term used in Korea. It is a combination of the prefix ‘un-‘ and part of the word contact, ‘tact’, creating a newly coined term with the meaning “no contact”. The emergence of untact marketing has enabled consumers to make purchases without asking for or needing assistance from another individual. Instead, robots or other forms of electronics act as assistants. At some places, human workers have already been replaced by these electronic machines. Some examples of untact marketing venues are Dal.komm Coffee, where coffee making robots fill customers’ orders, unattended fast food restaurants, and smart ramen cookers, which can also be found at Sookmyung Women’s University’s student cafeteria. In short term, while they increase convenience by reducing time and effort, they are causing society to become careless. Some have recognized this and voiced concern as it will lead to social problems.
Whether or not people like change, the fact remains that scientific development and new technologies are bringing about change. Change always contains both positives and negatives. As a society, it is our responsibility to make the best of the change and find solutions to overcome its detriments. The biggest concern for many at the moment is that untact marketing and related tools have the capacity of separating people from each other. Since machines and robots remove many of the risks humans must take in order to accomplish certain tasks, there is a good side to them, but on the other hand, they also remove the opportunity for people to interact with each other. The younger generation has never lived in a world without smartphones or similar high-tech tools. Also, among all generations there is increased usage of SNS, which some believe makes matters worse. Although concern is justified and there is indeed the need to ponder deeply their implications, there is also the opinion that untact tools will not necessarily divide people. There will always be individuals who disapprove of machines, and it is impossible to remove untact marketing from society. Instead, people should open their minds to the greater good it could bring. More changes will come as time goes, and what is most important to constantly remind ourselves in the process is that society should never forget the importance of face-to-face interaction.
1) Hwang Chaeyeon, “The 2018 Consumer Trend, Untact Technology”, Iconsumer, December 13, 2017