Changes in the sense of value and consumption behavior of Japanese people from the results of a survey of 10,000 consumers
December 15, 2003
Revised on January 8, 2004
Nomura Research Institute, Ltd.
In July 2003, Nomura Research Institute, Ltd. (NRI: Tokyo; Akihisa Fujinuma, President, CEO & COO) carried out a survey of 10,000 Japanese consumers with the aim of identifying the sense of value and consumption behavior. The results of the survey have been analyzed as follow by taking into consideration the changes from the results of similar surveys carried out in 1997 and 2000.
Dramatic changes in expectations regarding future income, human relationships, self-responsibility and marriage
The views of Japanese consumers regarding expectations for the future are changing dramatically. Regarding future incomes, respondents answering, “will not increase” grew significantly in 2003 survey. In terms of future life status, the percentage of respondents answering “assuming an income less than now” (23.6%) overtook the percentage answering “assuming an income more than now” (18.6%), demonstrating that it has now become normal to plan for lifestyles based on expectations of decreased incomes.
An awareness of reconsidering traditional Japanese human relationships has also emerged. Communications with people within communities seem to have become closer, as shown by a decrease in the number of those who believed that the less involvement with neighbors the better, an increase in the awareness of the importance of belonging to a company, and an increase in the number of people stressing the importance in face-to-face communications.
Awareness of self-responsibility which increased in the 2000 survey because of a belief that respondents could not trust society and other people, returned to the 1997 level in 2003. A sense of trust in police officers made a V-shaped recovery from 44.2% to 60.3%, and a belief in the “destruction of the trust society” that had been increasing radically is now showing signs of decrease.
Regarding marriage, the number of those choosing “it is better to get married” in the 2003 survey decreased from the 1997 level (87.1%→84.4%), whereas those selecting “it is not necessary to have one’s marriage registered if both partners consent” increased (36.6%→41.1%), showing the beginning of a trend to not adhere to a belief in formal marriages.
Even with standard of life decreases, consumers stuck to "one's own persistence"
Looking at consumption value trends, the percentage of people selecting “anything that is cheap” expanded significantly from 1997 in 2000 (37.7%→50.2%), but was seen to be on a declining trend in 2003; down to 46.9%. Even though respondents considered designing their future lives on a “downward trend” there was a marked intention to actively consume, putting priority on individual lifestyles and originality. As a result, consumption in such fields as travel, eating out and home appliances is being activated.
Expansion of the markets for digital appliances, urban-style leisure and use of specialty stores
During the past three years, consumer durables of which ownership grew include PCs, digital cameras, DVD players, car navigation systems and other digital appliances. Regarding leisure, use of relaxation services expanded. At the same time, “urban-type” leisure activities such as an interest in trying gourmet food and taking part in Karaoke, which had shown decreases in past surveys, marked signs of recovery in 2003. Furthermore, the use of convenience stores, drug stores, specialty stores and shopping malls was seen to be increasing.
The engines of consumptions: the baby boom generation was spending on travel by baby boom generation, and spending on family gatherings by the children of the baby boom generation.
The baby boom generation will soon be free of housing loans and educational expenses for their children. They also have relatively high incomes and large savings, so consumption is expected to become further vitalized. In fact, the percentage of those people who expressed the desire to spend money for travel was conspicuously high, reaching over 50%. The number of people who would opt to spend rather than save the money they can spare, seems to be growing.
The children of the baby boom generation will be starting the home forming and reproductive periods of their marriages for some time to come. As a result, their future consumption will likely further shift from consumption related to social life to family gatherings.
[For inquiries, please contact:]
Masanori Izutsu/Yukako Seto,
Corporate Communications Department
Nomura Research Institute, Ltd.
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