Dentsu PR Yomu-Yomu Trend Prediction Guide
Dentsu Public Relations Inc.
What kind of year will 2014 be for the Japanese market?
In this guide, making the most of Dentsu PR’s know-how and research
resources, we present our predictions for 2014, divided into “Trends”, “Topics”
So which trends, topics and people will come to the fore in 2014?
However you choose to use this information, whether as advice for planning or
as a fuel for discussion, we hope it proves helpful.
* “Dentsu PR Yomu-Yomu” represents the individual views of the editors and not
of the company as a whole.
Dentsu PR’s keyword for Japan in 2014
2014 will see the first rise in the consumption tax in Japan for 17 years.
There are certainly very few among the public who welcome the impact this
change will have on their lives.
However, it doesn’t all have to spell doom and gloom.
If you can set your own standards and prioritize, you can still ensure there’s
enough money to invest in the things that you value.
With our lifestyles and values becoming increasingly diversified and fragmented,
we live in an age of abundant choices, not only for what we consume but for how
In this situation, it’s important to establish a “stable self”.
We are paying less attention to the norms of society around us,
and instead living more according to our own standards.
The mild and modest Japanese people are gradually growing bolder.
While this development is yet to fully surface, the blood is pumping a little faster
through our veins as many businesses and analysts expect the improved
Trends: The mood of the era and the social climate
Tax shock leads to spending changes
In April 2014, the consumption tax rate will finally rise, from 5% to 8%. This
change is expected to be preceded by a last-minute jump in demand, and
immediately followed by a slump in consumer spending. According to economic
journalist Hiroko Ogiwara, “this consumption tax rise will only serve to further
polarize people’s lifestyles, making Japan more like America.” Certain
individuals and companies who have benefited from policies like “Abenomics”
will continue to invest more and grow wealthy, while luxury goods will still sell
well whatever the price tag. On the other hand, for many Japanese consumers
the tax rise will likely come as a shock. With salaries generally set to stay the
same, price competition for food and other essential daily items will intensify,
making bargain information and saving tips even more sought after. As such, we
will move into a time of “unreal-feeling economic recovery.”
In this kind of situation, people will need to carefully prioritize the things in which
to invest their limited time and money, in what has been dubbed “value
differentiation” (Professor Hiroyoshi Usui, Faculty of Humanities, Department of
Journalism, Sophia University). Rather than gravitating towards widely popular
big hits, it should become more usual for people to set great store on their own
“likes”, leading to a smattering of niche small hits. This tax rise looks set to
trigger an acceleration of “self-standardized consumption”, with personal
standards coming before the values of others.
Japan opens up to the world
As Japan looks forward to hosting a number of major international events in the
coming years, 2014 will be a year in which the country steps up its globalization
efforts. We should start to see increased moves, both on an official level and
among the general public, to improve the environment for foreign visitors to
Japan, such as providing more foreign language guidance, free Wi-fi services,
and greater credit card and ATM compatibility. For a start, the arrival/departure
slots for international flights at Haneda Airport are being expanded. To handle
the expected boost in numbers for both tourists and business people from
abroad, various foreign hotel chains are set to expand operations here. Much
attention is on the area around Shinbashi and Toranomon in central Tokyo,
where “Toranomon Hills” will open this summer. This new complex is designed to
enhance links between Japan and the rest of the world, boasting top-class
conference and hotel facilities among other things.
While much of the country suffers from the impact of the consumption tax rise,
one group who should remain largely unaffected is middle-aged women around
50 years old, who grew up in the 1970s and ‘80s “bubble generation”. The
magazine GOLD, named after the club which was popular during the bubble era
in early 1990s, has singled out this group for a spending resurgence. These
women have the power to take up some of the slack of their children, who
belong to the so-called “Yutori generation” (referring to young people in their
mid-20s and younger educated under the more relaxed Japanese education
system who tend to lack ambition and desire). Meanwhile, among women in their
30s and 40s, a new class of “loose career” women (neither fully career-focused
nor career-less) is emerging, who are spending less than the “bubble generation”
but are enjoying an unprecedented level of information diffusion through blogs
and social media.
Topics: Illuminating the Age
Energy generation at home
“2014 marks the beginning of an energy self-sufficient age for general
households.” So says energy journalist Masaya Ishida, of the website “Smart
Japan”, which provides expert advice on issues concerning energy saving,
storage and generation. The ratio of current energy usage in Japan stands at
around 80% for fossil fuels, 10% for nuclear and 10% for renewable energy.
However, as renewable energy usage constitutes a key element of the
government’s industrial support policy, it is expected to expand. Since the fixed
price purchase system for renewable energy started in July 2012, many
companies and organizations have launched new business through, for instance,
establishing their own power stations. In 2014, this trend is expected to spread
to general consumers, with more energy-generation measures aimed at
reducing lighting and heating costs at home. In an age of ever-rising electricity
bills, households that fail to make use of renewable energy will continue to be at
a disadvantage. Looking forward, energy-generation capability should prove an
invaluable ally to families hoping to balance the household expenses.
Dinner table diversity
These days, around half of the households in Japan are “single” or “couple-only”.
Reflecting this, eating habits are becoming increasingly fragmented, making it
harder for proper hit products to arise. Despite this trend though, according to
Norikatsu Suga, Editor in Chief of The Japan Food Service News, one product to
look out for this year is the T-bone steak. Boned beef cuts can now be found on
Japanese dinner tables for the first time in over 10 years following the relaxation
of import restriction from some countries in February 2013, prompting a mixture
of nostalgia among the older generation and curiosity among the young. In the
world of coffee, attention is on a growing “third wave” category of “single origin”
brands that are identified not only by the country but by the exact plantation
where the beans were grown. In this way, it would seem that coffee is becoming
viewed in much the same way as wine. The popularity of pancakes also looks
set to continue into 2014, with chain stores expanding into more regional cities.
From smartphones to tablets, and now fablets, digital devices are evolving at a
rapid pace. In 2014, we can expect to hear a lot more about “wearable
technology”. There has been plenty of buzz about this area in the tech industry
since Google introduced its “Google Glass”, and this year should see a further
development towards more general commercialization. Much is expected of
Logbar’s “Ring”, a finger device that can interact with other devices. And “curved
displays” on gadgets such as smartphones are another exciting new innovation
to look out for. Through their changing roles and forms, digital devices will likely
become an even more integral part of our lives in 2014.
Mini video mania
With the evolution of social media, sharing of images and other contents has
come to be an everyday activity. Now, in 2014, the stage is set for “video sharing”
to become the norm. There are already quite a few short video creation and
sharing apps available, such as “Vine”, “Viddy” and “MixBit” that allow users to
easily film and edit their work in a range of ways, and it seems their use will
further spread in the coming year, not only among businesses for their
promotional activities but also between general consumers. Video editing is no
longer a skill limited to the pros!
While there are plenty of cross-dressing celebrities on our TV screens, Japan
still lags behind many other developed countries when it comes to legal rights for
its LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender) population. As Japan embraces
globalization and the need to be more culturally and racially flexible, we could
well see some serious moves here to advocate for diversity and inclusion for
LGBT citizens. For instance, there should be more attention on same-sex
couples across various industries, such as insurance, travel and real estate
because of their generally high disposable income. Japan in 2014 seems ready
to get with the times and cast off its conservative stance towards LGBT people.
People: 7 Sources of Key Personalities in 2014
90s girls to battle it out
Actresses born in the latter half of the 1980s, who broke onto the scene in their
late teens before establishing themselves in their early twenties, are starting to
shift roles from fresh young girls to mature young women. Now is the time for a
new generation of young actresses who were born in the 1990s. It should be
fascinating to see how this latest talent battle unfolds.
Changing of the show host guard
A few of Japan’s best-known and longest-running daytime shows are reaching
an end over the coming months, and their distinguished veteran hosts are also in
the process of stepping aside. This year, a procession of challengers, from boy
band members to popular comedians, will step up to try to become the new
“King of daytime TV”. Who will emerge as the next housewives’ favorite?!
Supporting roles moving into the spotlight
2013 was a year of new smash hit TV dramas, such as “Hanzawa Naoki” and
“Ama-chan”. Now, in 2014, a number of supporting actors and actresses who
received much attention and plaudits will be enjoying more screen time as their
parts are expanded. What they have in common is experience acting in the
theater and ability to play a range of roles. In other words, they are helping to
raise the quality of production. Expect to see these performers pop up in other
TV shows and commercials, while their hit dramas remain fresh in people’s
Winter sport fever!
The popularity of winter sports looks set to rocket in 2014. Look out for the
emergence of new star Japanese athletes in the Nordic skiing, ski jump and ice
hockey events. There are sure to be some memorable comments and phrases
uttered by athletes, which will end up being on everybody’s lips!
YouTubers to make mainstream media debut
It’s becoming increasingly harder to take your eyes off YouTube. From cover
versions of popular songs, to English conversation instruction, and cooking
lessons, more and more Youtubers are finding their way to fame through
uploading original videos that enjoy millions of views. In 2014, we should start to
see some of them migrate from the web page to mainstream media.
Bad boys and girls to make a comeback!?
There are signs that this year could mark a return for a few celebrities who were
previously driven out of the entertainment industry due to their shocking
behavior and even sent to jail. These former beloved big names will no doubt
take the stage with a less polished image, and it should be interesting to see if
they can clean up their act second time around.
Playboys becoming elderly gents
A number of prominent Japanese actors, who have made their name playing
roguish, womanizing characters in the movies and on TV since the 1970s, are
entering pensioner-hood. Precisely because of their colorful history, both on and
off screen, the image of these graying dandies is unlikely to suffer as they
mellow and mature with age, much like a fine wine.
What next for information supply chain?
“Aggregator media” the key in 2013
If companies want to communicate their stories, they must first have a firm
understanding of the information supply chain. In this information-saturated age,
without a thorough advance plan of when, how and via which media to distribute
your information, it is unlikely to reach much of an audience.
In 2013, from the viewpoint of people, items, and media, which consolidate
masses of information, two main information channels have been at the forefront.
One of these follows the more established news flow, of stories delivered
digitally via media outlets to portal sites, before spreading to offline, traditional
mainstream media. The other, more recent, kind of information flow that has
emerged in 2013 Japan is via so-called “matome” (or aggregator) sites and
social media networks. Information shared through social media is then spread
further by being sorted on these aggregator sites. These distribution routes,
interacting with each other, will maximize your information flow. Offline
word-of-mouth these days doesn’t easily come about if one of them is lacking.
“On-screen” and “off-screen” the new key words
Information supply chains are likely to evolve even further in 2014, not only in
terms of media, but also heavily influenced by changes to devices. The
boundaries between smartphones, tablets, PCs and TVs will become
increasingly blurred. Already, fixed-price content providers such as “Hulu” and
“UULA” allow users to view on-screen content on multiple devices, and this
process will only get quicker with the advancement of “smart TV” combining the
functions of TV and Internet. In terms of PR strategy, 2014 may well be the year
that many PR practitioners realize the importance of getting a grip on information
distribution networks like this crossover on-screen media.
The next stage of information distribution channels will likely operate through an
integrated combination of on-screen media and off-screen media, including
newspapers, magazines, events and POPs. Likewise, PR companies with a full
line of services, centered around digital media while possessing specialist units
for TV, magazines, newspapers and events, should be the big winners.
(Kazuo Kusuda, Head of Digital Communication Division, Dentsu PR)
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