Thursday, January 04, 2018

Five ways Japanese culture is changing Western lifestyles

By Peter Hanami


"Asian economies are the world's largest and fastest growing, and they represent a major opportunity" A quote from the Developing an Asia Capable Workforce Strategy, University of Melbourne in 2012. This quote summarizes what is happening quicker than expected in the business market place. A power shift is occurring from East to West and Western marketers for the first time have to understand, meet and cater to the needs of Asian consumers.


1. Fashion

Japan is now a big manufacturer of clothing items and so when they create new products they get to decide the styles, designs and colours. So we are getting many changes in the traditional products we once bought. A quick glance at Uniqlo’s  fashion range reveals many new trends. Added to this we have seen children’s fashion mimic the designs of adult fashion.

2. Food

Food packaging in Japan is very advanced and wrapping materials are making it easier for manufacturers to keep food fresh and to taste better. This innovation is driving new forms of packaging and we are seeing the widespread development of single serve products including biscuits, chocolates, bread, coffee, rice, meals, etc. Japanese culture promotes variety and this means consumers want to eat many different things but in smaller quantities. Japanese cuisine is also gaining widespread awareness for taste and health.

3. Thrift

If you visit Japan you will notice that many things are small. For example: Houses, restaurants, food portions. Japanese culture encourages thrift and so people are always looking at ways to conserve. Many Japanese pack their own lunch and take it to work. The Cool Biz campaign each summer encourages workers to conserve electricity usage by reducing the setting on the air conditioner at the office and in return workers can wear a flexible range of clothes, like polo shirts and Hawaiian shirts. 

Many Japanese in large cities don’t own a car and rely on public transport for all their travel needs. Many Japanese households recycle water from their bath and use it to wash clothes in the washing machine, it reduces their water bills. Home recycling of all packaging materials, metals, plastics and films, polystyrene, glass and metal now mean some households have daily garbage duties for recycling.

4. Technology

Technology is being used in Japan to add to daily convenience. This can be seen in many ways, shorter URL’s for websites and QR codes on advertisements, so a scan of your smartphone takes you to a website without typing. GPS systems that alert parents when their children arrive at school by texting their phones. The development and use of robots in Japan for manufacturing, customer service and nursing.

5. Medical

Cleanliness and the reduction of germs is a big priority for many Japanese households. For examples: At a public library you can sterilize a book, ATM’s deliver sterilized notes and on a daily basis consumers access anti-bacterial wipes from their handbags and briefcases, clean their hands at shops with clear anti-bacterial gels and can buy a wide range of detergent s  with anti-bacterial attributes. It is common in Japan in new shopping centres to encounter rest rooms with no touch doors, no touch taps and no touch hand driers. Home monitoring of basic medical functions such as blood pressure and weight. For example: Omron’s range of cuffs for home blood pressure monitoring. 
Local councils and companies offer residents and employees time to take an annual medical check.  A check undertaken in a few hours that offers many tests, for example: blood test, urine, height, weight, ultrasound, chest x-ray, etc. and then mails you the result in a week . All results are presented on a single page which can be easily compared to past and future results to quickly pick up any changes that may need attention.


In the Asian Century, Western lifestyles are being impacted more and more by Asian values in a wide range of areas. For the first time we can experience, encounter and enjoy these influences. As marketers we also get a peek into a totally new and developing market, one with many new opportunities in the Asian Century

Copyright Peter Hanami, 2012. All Rights Reserved.