While doing shopping today at the local supermarket, I was surprised to find a TV crew there. Being curious what their intention is I found them soon targeting young mothers for an interview. It seemed to me the goal was to report how purchasing behavior has changed since the earthquake. Apart from the question whether they are shopping now for different products, the example of yoghurt and the limitations previously during the organized blackouts came up.
Looking at the local news online I start to find more and more the word of the “new Japan”, especially in regard to consumer behavior. Along the same lines I came across a very suitable index that explains the changes in the Japanese consumer behavior: The JWT anxiety index. While so far my observations of Japanese consumers were not based on market research data, but personal observations, the JWT anxiety index shows what I had sensed in the supermarkets so far. How comfortable and safe you feel, directly influences the purchasing behavior. An excellent explanation can be found on the JWT anxiety index website, on why anxiety matters so much in regard to economy
“Economic concerns exist in the context of other fears and insecurities—centered around terrorism, military hostilities, natural disasters, product safety, health care, epidemics and so on—that are driven in part by a 24-7 media environment in which bad news spreads fast and repeats endlessly. With tens of millions of consumers seeking guidance and assurance, marketers need to understand the total picture in each market.
When consumers are anxious—whether about their health or safety or their finances—they tend to exert more control over areas of their lives that are within their control, whether that means using more coupons at the supermarket or assuming greater management of their health care. Often, control applies to brand and product choices. This means brands must understand their consumers’ anxieties and address them proactively.”
As long as 92% of Japanese are nervous or anxious, it makes so much sense that the rules that had applied in the past for Japanese consumers do not apply now. While the Lehman shock must have created some concerns as well, I personally believe the consequences of the disaster causes deeper effects in the society. If I were a truly, truly wise person I would make a guess on when Japan returns back to the ways like before. All what I can sense now is that changes are still ongoing and the new Japan has not emerged yet.
Brought to you by Sibylle Ito (シビル伊藤)