Fresh Data Blog
Fresh Data Archive
Targeting Japan’s Evolving Population
Date: August, 2011 --
Japan is a puzzling market for many American marketers.
There were “glory days” in the ‘80’s and early ‘90’s when catalog mailings into
Japan were like fishing in a fish farm.
You couldn’t do wrong. The emerging consumer class, especially housewives
and young working women, were curious and doing well as the Yen appreciated and
full-employment was the rule.
But every gold mine sooner or later plays out, unless the
management controls the extraction rate, as some US merchants have carefully done.
Brands like L.L. Bean, J.Crew and many others continue to do well in the
Japanese market. Sweepstakes mailers have traditionally been successful in
Japan, and continue to mail in a steady stream.
Finally, we understand from our sources there that the
financial industry, banks/credit cards/insurance companies, continue to be
heavy mailers. No doubt the aging Japanese population has to do with the increased
volumes coming from this vertical.
The Japanese market is also following data trends showing
a clear pattern supporting the increased effectiveness of direct mail with the
increased age of a population. The
population is aging with 22.6% of the population at 65 or older, making Japan
the “oldest” developed-world country. Despite the growth of the online
population of those in this age group, they are still much less likely to use
the Internet or a mobile phone, let alone be responsive to offers in either
Second, more and more elderly are living by themselves
and not with their children, as some 37% currently do. More good news for
marketers is that, for the most part, the older generation is fairly wealthy. The
average savings of this cohort is Yen 25 million ($320,000), 1.5 times the
national average and some 19% of these people have savings of Yen 40 million
The domestic spend on direct mail in Japan has held
steady, according to the latest research published by Dentsu, Japan’s largest
ad agency. Last year it constituted 7%
of the ad spend in the country. Although
actual spend decreased from 2009 by some 2.9%, its share of total ad spend only
fell 0.1% and was still above 2008 spend by 0.3%.
More money is spent on direct mail in Japan than on
magazines (4.7%), radio (2.2%), free magazines and newspapers or display
screens (each 4.5%). Undoubtedly, this
is justified by the fact that the elderly are much less likely to be “digital”
in Japan, so the best way to reach them is via the mail. In fact, the percent of the entire population
that uses the Internet at least once a month has stood stubbornly at 70% here
for some years now.
Ad spend was up in many of the traditional direct mail
categories such as cosmetics, personal items/accessories, and apparel. As
noted, direct mail is used by the financial and insurance industries as a
preferred medium. Despite the privacy
law enacted with much fanfare some years ago, mailing lists, some with robust
data and select capabilities, are readily available.
The Japan Post has an excellent reputation, despite the
fact that thrifty pricing is not part of it, and it faces stiff competition in
parcels from FedEx, DHL, Kintetsu and many others. However, like the USPS it
has offices, and delivers, everywhere.
The tricky thing now is determining how the triple play
of disasters has impacted consumer spending and the culture itself. There is a
growing debate in the country about its future, especially the role of the
government and the future for young people.
Whatever that outcome, the mail will still work well and
Data Services will help you assure your Japanese addresses are correct. This is not a simple task, by the way. Japan and Korea are the only two places in
the world using an address system sometimes referred to as the “block” system.
Addresses start with the “big” part, such as the
prefecture, and proceed down through successfully smaller administrative areas,
such as city to ward, ending with the building/apartment or house address,
which is a number. Streets are not named
and building/house numbers are assigned, sometimes in sequence, “around the
your address data is in the Roman alphabet (Romanji/Romaji) or in any of Japan’s
multi-byte character sets, Kanji, Katakana or Hiragana, Data Services’ Japan-Complete
Data Processing solution has the technology to ensure the accuracy of the
records in your file.