September 5, 2023
As we navigate the ever-evolving consumer landscape in Japan, it is crucial to stay abreast of the latest trends and sentiments. The COVID-19 pandemic has significantly altered consumer behavior, and understanding these changes is key to crafting effective marketing strategies. The latest research conducted by Z.com Engagement Lab in May 2023 provides valuable insights into the current state of Japanese consumers and their attitudes towards the pandemic.
According to the research, the average number of new daily COVID-19 infections in Japan has remained steady at about 10,000 from March to May. However, a significant shift occurred on May 8th, when the government reclassified COVID-19 as a Class 5 infectious disease. This change shifted the approach to infection control from government-led requests and interventions to a system that respects individual choices and encourages voluntary efforts. Despite the rising cost of living and the pressure on household budgets, the end of the pandemic seems to be in sight, bringing a positive shift in people's mindset.
The research also reveals that the perception of the severity of the coronavirus remains relatively stable. Approximately 12% of respondents perceive the situation as "very dangerous," while 31% feel it is "not so serious." With the change in the legal positioning of the infection and the shift towards individual judgment for measures such as mask-wearing, it is expected that the perception of severity will gradually improve as the end of the pandemic becomes more tangible.
Looking at consumer spending over the next month, the research shows signs of a slight improvement in purchasing intentions. While 16% of respondents expect to increase their consumption and 21% anticipate a decrease, the overall trend indicates a slight uptick in consumer spending. Notably, the proportion of people over 30 who expect a decrease in their budget has dropped by about 5 points compared to the previous survey.
When examining spending by product category, there is a slight improvement in the desire to consume in the "eating out/entertainment," "travel," and "apparel/fashion" categories compared to March. However, no generation expects a significant increase. Among the 16-29 age group, only about 5% expect a decrease in their budget in any category, which is less than other age groups.
So, what does this mean for marketers? First, it's essential to understand that consumer sentiment is shifting towards optimism as the end of the pandemic appears more tangible. Brands should tap into this positive sentiment by communicating hope and resilience in their messaging.
Second, with the shift towards individual judgment in COVID-19 measures, brands should respect and support consumers' personal choices. This could mean offering more flexible options for product use or consumption, or emphasizing safety and hygiene in marketing communications.
Third, marketers should note the slight uptick in consumer spending intentions, particularly in the "eating out/entertainment," "travel," and "apparel/fashion" categories. Brands in these sectors should seize this opportunity to engage consumers with compelling offers and promotions.
Lastly, marketers should pay attention to the younger generation's spending habits. With a lower proportion of this demographic expecting to decrease their budget, brands should consider strategies to attract and retain this potentially lucrative market segment. In conclusion, understanding the latest consumer sentiment is crucial in the post-COVID world. By leveraging the insights from z.Com Engagement Lab's May 2023 research, marketers can craft strategies that resonate with consumers and drive business growth in these changing times.