We’ve been discussing powerful social forces in Japan that are changing their economic landscape. For the first time ever, women are now more economically powerful than men in that country. You can read more about that in my previous two posts. What we’re going to look at today are some brief snapshots from Advertising Age that profile seven groups that are challenging the social status quo with serious economic implications.
• Schoolgirls/teenagers. The true arbiters of cool with wads of disposable cash and a sphere of influence that spans the globe. Obsessed with novelty.
• Makeinu. Single women in their 30s who have opted to forego the traditional marriage-children route in favor of careers and self-indulgence. The word translates to “loser dogs” but these women have taken ownership of the word as they reinvent what it means to be a young woman in Japan.
• Parasite Singles. A subset of Makeinu, these young, single women live at home, have jobs and spend their money on themselves at luxury spas, adventure travel, and other lavish extravagances. Total spending power estimated at $6.5 billion.
• Divorcees. These Boomer Japanese women have shed their husbands who devoted their lifetimes to work and not to their families and personal relationships. Newly empowered, these women are affluent, independent and ready for new experiences that let them flex their new status.
• Freeters. Young men and women who are abandoning their parents’ work ethic, working part-time or starting their own businesses and living at home with their mom and dad to save money. Not wealthy, but trendsetters nonetheless. The rise in young women entrepreneurs will likely have long-lasting repercussions on the expectations of future generations of Japanese girls.
• Otaku. Mostly male anime comic geeks who are deeply involved in the subculture and spend richly on anime-associated products.
• Neets. Stands for “Not in education, employment or training.” These freeloaders are still on mom and dad’s payroll, don’t go to school, don’t work and well, don’t generally contribute much to society as a whole. Estimated at 850,000 and growing. Further evidence of the physics theory that for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction – this obviously reacting to the decades-long Japanese obsession with work first and foremost.
It’s getting interesting over there, folks. I’ll be watching with fascination as Japanese society weathers this latest cultural earthquake.