New Market Scale Estimation for Otaku: Population of 1.72 Million
with Market Scale of ¥411 Billion
— NRI classifies 5 types of otaku group, proposing a "New 3Cs" marketing frame —

October 6, 2005
Nomura Research Institute, Ltd.

Nomura Research Institute, Ltd. (NRI: Tokyo; Akihisa Fujinuma, President, CEO & COO) conducted a survey on the actual conditions and business value of the domestic enthusiast consumer group (known as otaku) in 12 major fields, including animation and comics. The survey was based on the responses received from an Internet questionnaire (conducted in August 2004, with a survey sample of 10,003), which was used to analyze the market scale of the otaku group. The survey showed that there are a total of 1.72 million otaku in 12 different fields, and that the combined market scale of the group is approximately ¥411 billion (See Reference below). NRI also proposes the classification of the otaku group into five types, compiled taking into account six factors that affect the unique consumption behavior and psychology of otaku. This will provide a method to create corporate marketing, product development activities and industrial lifecycles, based on these unique behavioral aspects.

Estimates concerning the enthusiast consumer group market scale
in 12 major domestic fields (2004)
Field Population (*1) Market Scale (*2)
Comics 350,000 ¥ 83 billion
Animation 110,000 ¥ 20 billion
Idols (*3) 280,000 ¥ 61 billion
Games 160,000 ¥ 21 billion
PC assembly 190,000 ¥ 36 billion
Audio-visual equipment 60,000 ¥ 12 billion
Mobile IT equipment 70,000 ¥ 8 billion
Autos 140,000 ¥ 54 billion
Travel 250,000 ¥ 81 billion
Fashion 40,000 ¥ 13 billion
Cameras 50,000 ¥ 18 billion
Railways 20,000 ¥ 4 billion
Total 1.72 million ¥ 411 billion

(*1) Given that there are population overlaps in each field, the total given here is cumulative.
(*2) Estimated from industry interviews and other research, based on the average per capita monthly consumption that was deduced as a result of the NRI Internet-based questionnaire.
(*3) Show business personalities or TV Star

Six factors for otaku behavioral principles and five classifications by "otaku image"
The phenomenon of otaku has been debated from a variety of different perspectives. NRI defines otaku as a universal phenomenon in consumer society and has analyzed it as objectively as possible. The analysis showed a new image for otaku, one that is broader and more encompassing than generally considered. Having identified the behavioral and psychological characteristics common to the otaku group that were evident from the above-mentioned questionnaire responses, NRI classifies these into six factors: "desire for common identity," "desire to collect," "desire to stand out," "desire to be independent," "desire to be creative," and "desire to belong." Going forward with analysis based on these factors, the survey revealed that 3.6% of respondents could be classified as otaku, with a further breakdown into five types being possible depending on the balance of the degree of desire shown in the above-mentioned six factors: "Family-oriented otaku" (25% of the total defined as otaku), "Leaving my own mark on the world otaku" (23%), "Media-sensitive multiple-interest otaku" (22%), "Outgoing and assertive otaku" (18%), and "Fan magazine-obsessed otaku" (12%). (Table 1).

Marketing frame for the otaku group: New 3Cs
Members of the otaku group devotes as much money as possible to the particular fields in which they are strongly interested. As such, companies cannot ignore their presence when devising marketing strategies. Although classic corporate marketing frames consider what is known as the "4Ps" (product, promotion, place, price), NRI proposes a new marketing frame based on the unique consumption characteristics of otaku group, referred to below as "New 3Cs." These factors are present in all of the otaku markets in the 12 fields surveyed by NRI, and they can be applied to the creation of a standard marketing strategy as well as one aimed at the otaku market.

Collection : Promote continuous consumption by adding elements of collecting to products and services
Creativity : Introduce products that could be converted or for which there is room for reconstruction. Strengthen consumer attachment to a product by providing an outlet for creativity in consumer activities of the user.
Community : Promote consumer activities by providing a place to exchange/transmit information and demonstrate their own creative activities.

Utilizing the otaku group in the industry life cycle
The NRI survey also examined behavior of the otaku group and the impact it has on its surroundings according to each stage of the industry life cycle, identifying the following time frames that could be applied to corporate activities (Table 2).

Introduction Stage: Creators of new market, first consumers of new product
Growth Stage: Evaluators and promoters of new product or service
Maturity Stage: Expanders of market by opening niche markets
Stable/decline Stage: Transmitters of know-how and supporters

Given certain restrictions during the introduction stage for products, including product scarcity, high prices and lack of product information, they tend to be used only by limited numbers of the otaku group. The survey results showed that whether or not products that have been used, improved and promoted by the otaku group proceed into the growth period, and further enjoy market expansion depends on their evaluation.

NRI intends to proceed with surveys and analysis on enthusiast consumer group behavior, expanding coverage of the otaku group, with the aim of indicating the group's potential business value. The survey results are to be published on October 13, 2005, by Toyo Keizai Inc., under the title "Otaku shijo no kenkyu (Research on the Otaku Market)." (The book is Japanese only.)

NOTE: The otaku group in this survey is defined as follows: "people who spend almost all their spare money and time for leisure or hobbies on a field in which they have a strong interest (consumer characteristic), and who possess unique psychological characteristics." In the interim survey on the otaku market announced in August 24 2004, the otaku group was defined only by consumer characteristics. The survey implemented on this occasion, however, changed the definition of otaku group to focus also on the unique psychological characteristics that support their consumption activities, aiming to analyze and propose methods that can be applied to corporate marketing activities targeting the otaku group. The result of this redefining of otaku group has further identified the core otaku group. The estimate on market scale therefore does not correspond to the figures announced previously for which the old definition of otaku group was applied (Table 3).

[For general inquiries, please contact:]
Yukako Seto / Takeshi Nomura
Corporate Communications Department
Nomura Research Institute, Ltd.
Phone: +81-3-6270-8100


Figure 1: Five types within the otaku group and their proportions (N=363)
Five types within the <em>otaku</em> group and their proportions

Type 1: The family-oriented otaku
This type is the most numerous among otaku. Members are broadly distributed throughout various fields, mainly in mechanical fields such as PC assembly and audio-visual equipment. On the whole this type is relatively more mature and many are married. This type is characterized by relatively low expenditure and time spent on consumer activities related to their hobbies, perhaps because of the strain of household expenditures. This type generally has a stronger tendency than others to be respectful of "harmony with others" although the proportion of members who share their hobbies with family and friends is relatively low, suggesting "closet otaku." The archetype is a "father who is immersed in his hobby and spends his allowance on it in secret, without the knowledge of his family."

Type 2: The "leaving my own mark on the world" otaku
Members of this type have their own solid values and actively collect information and post critical comments on the Internet. Of all the five types, this one has the highest proportion of males. They are concentrated in the mechanical field, including PC assembly, audio-visual equipment, IT gadgets, autos, and cameras, as well as the show business personality field. This type is considered to be the successor to previous "mania" or "collector" groups. The archetype for the "takes it seriously otaku" is the "single male in his 20s and 30s with an interest in mechanical and idol fields."

Type 3: The media-sensitive multiple interest otaku
This type has a strong tendency to have an interest in multiple fields and is very media-oriented. Members are equally distributed by gender and tend to be from the younger generation. Their use of the Internet is high and consumer time spent on hobbies is also high. Members of this type seek interaction with others and reveal their hobby, showing their carefree attitude about their strong interest in their hobbies. This type has a strong tendency to fixate on acquiring information or material goods, and there are many who respond that "I cannot give up my hobby." On the other hand, they tend to consider it more valuable to be sensitive to trends and fads rather than seeking to develop their own values. The archetype is an "Internet roamer who loves net auctions and community sites and is a light user of 2Channel." (2Channel is the most popular BBS in Japan.)

Type 4: The outgoing and assertive otaku
Members of this type have their own values. They actively try to involve other people in their hobbies in an attempt to share the values they develop. Their values are somewhat fixed. They find their way to gain recognition from others only by promoting their hobby. . Males account for 60% of this type and many are in their 30s or 40s. The archetype is "a man in his 30s who experienced a hobby craze in his youth (Gundam, etc.) and who has continued into adulthood still perpetuating, without noticing, values developed through his youthful experiences, while growing up in social aspects."

Type 5: The fan magazine-obsessed otaku
Females account for the overwhelming majority of this type and are mainly in their 20s or 30s (men who are the so-called "Akiba type" or "moe type" also come into this type). Their creative desire is particularly strong and participation in creative activities in fan magazines is high. This type has the highest expenditure on hobbies and tends to engage in them for long periods. The archetype is "a fan magazine-obsessed female who has an obsession with characters in comics or animation and continues her hobby into adulthood, hiding it from her friends."

Figure 2: Industrial lifecycle and the role of otaku

Industrial lifecycle and the role of the <em>otaku</em> group
  denotes stages in which otaku has an influence.

Table 1: Estimate concerning the otaku market scale according to the previous definition (Partially announced in August 24, 2004)

Field Population Market Scale
Comics 1 million ¥ 100 billion
Animation 200,000 ¥ 20 billion
Idols 800,000 ¥ 60 billion
Games 800,000 ¥ 78 billion
PC assembly 50,000 ¥ 32 billion
Audio-visual equipment 220,000 ¥ 42 billion
Mobile IT equipment 150,000 ¥ 15 billion
Autos 450,000 ¥ 172 billion
Travel 2.2 million ¥ 712 billion
Fashion 250,000 ¥ 76 billion
Cameras 200,000 ¥ 75 billion
Railways 140,000 ¥ 26 billion
Total 6.46 million ¥ 1,408 billion

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No reproduction or republication without written permission.