Smartphones lure Japanese shoppers

25 November 2011

TOKYO: Smartphones and tablets were among the "hit products" of 2011 in Japan, but the natural disasters that struck the country meant eco-friendly and less high-tech goods also proved popular.

The Dentsu Innovation Institute, a specialist unit of the Japanese advertising agency, asked 1,000 adults to name the new products from this year that they recognised, liked and were particularly interested in.

Smartphones retained top spot from a similar study conducted last year, even though penetration rates in Japan currently lag behind markets such as North America and Western Europe.

LED light bulbs, which took tenth position in 2010, claimed second place in 2011, and the Tokyo Sky Tree, a new broadcasting tower scheduled to be completed next year, was third.

Nadeshiko Japan, the international football team and winners of the 2011 FIFA Women's World Cup, and AKB48, a pop group, rounded out the top five, and Dentsu's study argued this was indicative of recent events in Japan.

"The impact of the Great East Japan Earthquake which occurred on March 11 can be seen in the number two ranking for LED light bulbs and the first-time appearance of several energy-saving and eco-friendly products," it said.

"The high rankings for Tokyo Sky Tree, Nadeshiko Japan and AKB48 can be attributed to the way in which they lifted a weary nation's spirits."

Also featuring in the top ten were child actress Mana Ashida, hybrid cars, emergency food and disaster supplies, and electric/battery-powered fans, bought by many people in the aftermath of the earthquake.

Digital-ready widescreen flat-panel TV sets made up this group. Elsewhere, "Munchable" chilli oil, energy-saving home appliances, pop star Lady Gaga and automatic bread makers all came inside the top 20.

Tablets like the iPad and restaurants offering gourmet food at affordable prices came next in the list. Steve Jobs, the late CEO of Apple, was also widely-mentioned by the sample.

Microblogging, electric cars and "K-pop" music groups from South Korea, like Girls' Generation and Kara, assumed similar prominence, Dentsu said.

Data sourced from Dentsu; additional content by Warc staff