NRI Papers
No. 130 May 1, 2008
  New Developments in Marketing to Address Shifting Attitudes of Japanese Consumers  
Hiroyuki NITTO
   Every three years, Nomura Research Institute, Ltd. (NRI) conducts a nationwide survey of 10,000 consumers in Japan. In order to identify recent major shifts in consumer attitudes, NRI analyzed the results of the most recent survey in 2006 and conducted a time-series analysis of all previous survey results. The analysis revealed two major shifts in consumer attitudes. One is the increasingly conservative attitude of Japanese consumers and the other is a change in consumer behavior brought about by the increasing use of information technology (IT).
   Further analysis of the survey results revealed that there is a trend among Japanese consumers to display increasing anxiety and concern about making decisions that are to their disadvantage, or fear of failure.
   These concerns have given rise to a phenomenon whereby a single piece of information can immediately trigger major changes in behavior among Japanese consumers. The flood of information facing Japanese consumers has increased their anxiety over the vulnerability of their own criteria and heightened their inclination to be dependent on opinions and standards that carry the weight of authority.
   Japanese consumers now have instantaneous access to copious amounts of word-of-mouth information from the Internet such as through blogs and social networking services. This is having a significant impact on Japanese consumers in terms of increasing their levels of anxiety.
   Corporations must respond in new ways to the new anxieties that are increasingly gripping Japanese consumers. Leading corporations are seeking to identify approaches and methods of customer interaction that represent a break from the approaches and methods that they previously used. Corporations can take one of four approaches--build a trusted brand, provide customers with learning opportunities, provide professional advice, or build a "fan base" around the company.
Contents
I Increasing Conservatism in Attitudes of Japanese Consumers
II Shifts in Consumer Behavior Caused by IT Use
III Consumer Anxieties and their Driving Factors
IV Approaches for Reassessing the Relationship between Corporations and Customers

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