October 3, 2005
Yesterday we started talking about the rising economic power of Japanese women, and heck, I ran out of room. So here we are again, kids, with some additional insight into this new phenomenon. The source for this stuff is Advertising Age, so if you’re inclined to read the whole article, go check out the Sept. 19 edition.
According to the article, Japanese schoolgirls are an increasingly influential group with huge amounts of disposable income (as a teenager, isn’t it all disposable? Ah, for the good ole days of 100% disposable income…). These uber-hip teenagers prowl Tokyo’s uber-cool Harajuku district, but their influence spreads well beyond the country’s borders. Consider the popularity of Japanese anime in this country.
Their current obsession seems to be novelty, a trend that’s gotten so big there’s a word for it – otakuism. This pre-occupation with the latest and greatest is reflected on store shelves, where products are turned over at lightening pace. In the soft drink industry, for example, more than 1,000 new products are introduced each year and only three survive the brutal cut.
Another group that’s climbing up the influence ladder is recently divorced women. Japanese women are realizing that thanks to the “company man” behavior that was, and to some degree still is, expected of their husbands – spending more time working and socializing with their colleagues instead of their wives – has taken its toll and they no longer have anything in common. The Japanese term for it translates to “sticky leaves,” meaning retired husbands with no hobbies or outside interests.
Citigroup is addressing this new affluent demographic with a personal finance division with an all-female staff that delivers a message of positive empowerment and independence.
Dang. Here we are again at the end of a post and there’s still more to cover. So come on back again for a quick look at the seven groups that are steering Japanese culture away from traditional expectations.
Until then, here’s something to think about. What forces and groups of consumers in this country are redefining social norms? One example that springs immediately to mind is the new definition of family – if you look around, it’s not just mom, dad, 2.4 kids and a golden retriever named Buddy anymore. But a lot of advertising still clings to that old idea instead of reflecting today’s many different shapes of families – single parents, grandparents raising kids, blended race families, gay families, and singles. Are these new ideas reflected in your communications?