Japanese consumers were often considered to be very different to consumers in Europe and the United States. They focused on high quality and convenience when purchasing products. Younger members of the population, however, have been changing this consumer behavior and it is leading to a massive change in the Japanese shopping. To simplify the change, Japanese consumers are becoming more cost-conscientious. In addition, the new generation has shown that they care less about brand loyalty compared to their older counterparts.
One big thing is that these consumers are now intentionally hunting for value when they shop. They are no longer paying extra for convenience like they had in the past. This is leading to a lot of bulk purchases that add more value over time. Costco entered the Japanese market in 1999. Since then, they have expanded to 26 locations. This change in consumer behavior provides a fantastic opportunity for Costco to continue to expand in Japan. Costco’s vast inventory of fresh fish has already made it pretty popular in Japan, but this new trend truly shows that Japanese consumers are finding value in Costco’s main offering.
A change in culture is also having a big impact. Japan is skewing toward a less masculine culture with Japanese people spending more time at home. This goes hand in hand with spending less, as Japanese people are eating out less and spending more time cooking and entertaining guests at home. This shift is changing what consumers are buying and will lead to some more grocery purchases instead of restaurant purchases. Japanese people are also becoming more interested in shopping at malls instead of department stores. This is because they were bothered by the high price and overall shopping experience in these stores. They noted that the staff annoyed them and they felt as though they could not shop at their own pace. In addition, Japanese consumers are looking for venues that provide multiple forms of experiences. Malls have movie theaters and restaurants that provide breaks in between shopping and make the entire experience more enjoyable. Online shopping has also changed the game making products cheaper and more accessible without having to pay too many additional costs.
This shift in consumer behavior was likely triggered by the economic downturn which saw many citizens looking to save money. However, these changes will likely stick even after the economy gets better because of the impact that the younger generation is having on general consumer behavior in Japan.