Digital habits slow to catch on in Japan

17 October 2011

TOKYO: Consumers in Japan appear to be "distinctly unenthusiastic" about a range of digital habits when compared with their peers in the US, Spain and South Korea, according to a study.

McKinsey, the consultancy, surveyed 5,000 people in eight markets. It found Japanese respondents spent 136 minutes a day using a PC, ahead of 64 minutes in India, but behind 308 minutes in the US, 375 minutes in Spain and 395 minutes in South Korea.

Similarly, South Koreans dedicated 39 minutes to instant messaging per day, versus Japan's eight minutes. German web users also utilised email for 37 minutes daily, falling to 13 minutes in Japan.

Moreover, while members of Spain's internet audience were active on social networks for 68 minutes a day, their Japanese counterparts committed a modest seven minutes to this pastime.

Equally, just 30% of the Japanese digital population had visited a social network in the six months before the poll. Germany posted 40% here, and the remaining featured nations logged at least 60%.

"Japan has a well-deserved reputation for loving technology," McKinsey said. "But one of the most surprising findings of our research is that Japanese consumers are not nearly as much in love with their gadgets as those in many other countries."

When it comes to video-on-demand, the Japanese sample streamed such material for eight minutes a day, half the total of Germany, the UK and US, and dwarfed by South Korea's 63 minutes.

Linear TV is more popular in Japan. Viewers tune in for 170 minutes a day, trailing the US on 188 minutes, but topping South Korea's 118 minutes, Spain's 125 minutes, Germany's 137 minutes and the UK's 163 minutes.

Tablets are also proving a hard sell in Japan, where around 4% of people already own a slate and an additional 3% wished to do so. These figures stood at 9% and 18% respectively in South Korea.

"Compared to Korean and American users, Japanese ones are much less likely to tap into the tablet's more interesting capabilities, such as reading books, playing games, or reading newspapers and magazines," McKinsey added.

Regarding purchase intent for devices like the iPad, the US and Spain were on 9%, the UK on 5% and Germany on 4%.

The lack of widespread free content was a key reason for the low level of interest in slates among Japanese interviewees, the study argued.

Data sourced from McKInsey; additional content by Warc staff