At the midway point in 2017, what consumer trends have stood out? The Nikkei Marketing Journal (NMJ) dated 7 June issued its famous Hitto Shohin Banzuke (listing of hit products) in traditional sumo-style calligraphy and ranked, as are wrestlers, on east and west sides in descending order.
At the top of the east was Kisenosato, the first Japan-born grappler in 19 years to reach the exalted rank of yokozuna (grand champion). Admission tickets to all 15 days of the summer tournament, one of six held annually, were sold out within 90 minutes of going on sale.
Top-ranked item on the west side was the Nintendo Switch, a game system that can be played both on home consoles and mobile phones. Over 2.7mn were sold during their first month on the market, and sales are forecast to exceed 12.7mn by year end.
Moving down the list was an impending price increase by the Yamato Transport Co., Ltd., its first in 27 years. This was followed by the new Ginza Six shopping complex. Built on the site of the former Matsuzakaya department store, it boasts 214 outlets, making it the largest in the neighbourhood. Some 1.5mn people turned out during its first 18 days of business.
Next is Toyota Motor Corporation’s new SUV, the C-HR. Up to the end of April, it had sold 117,000 units worldwide. This was followed by the reduction, starting in January, of Tokyo’s minimum taxi fare, which was cut from ¥730 to ¥410 for the first 1.052km. The use of taxis is said to have increased around 30%.
Among 2017’s other hits: a novel by Haruki Murakami and a series of books designed to help children in the first six years of primary school to learn Sino-Japanese characters. The books use the theme of unko (faeces) as a learning aid. Sales of the latter have already blasted past the 2.27mn mark.
Analysing the leading items in this summer’s list, the NMJ’s editor observed that the emphasis on people and services may indicate that this is a period during which it is difficult for marketers to score megahit products. Not a single fashion-related item, for example, was included on the current list. Just to make sure they weren’t missing something important, a second review of sales data was conducted, but the result was unchanged.
“Perhaps”, the editor wrote, “this lack of [fashion-related] winners signifies that, in relation to lifestyles, there has been a decline in the priority of garments”. Which, he added, are being supplanted by services, such as restaurant dining and travel.