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Understanding Consumer Behaviour in Japan – Erica Okada


Erica’s subject matter was quite topical. It started to breakdown some of the aspects of the two week module we had been discussing. In particular around cultural difference between China and Japan and the overlay of this on cultural approaches of the Western world. It highlighted the depth of thought you need to apply to this area and that a one size fits all mentality will now work. I’m not talking just about Japan here but to the whole of the creative industries and marketing and how we become more successful in engaging with people.

Some key aspects of Japanese culture:
Japanese has a civilised attitude to people – By saying Hello you turn from a strangers into an acquaintance. This is because once you say hello they feel or want to extend the conversation. i.e you don’t just say Hello. This leads to people acting quite differently within their community boundary and vs strangers in the street.

 Japanese society is a collectivist society. Not unlike China but for different reasons. They want to be know for being a good member and helper in the community or the most proud or patriotic or includer.

 Japanese people have a strong sense of uncertainty avoidance. They won’t be late to meetings. They like to know when lunch will be and where and they like to know what the meeting is about before they attend. To the extent that often they have a pre-meeting meeting to discuss to all are aligned. to the point that by the time they actually have the meeting people already know the outcome.

Erica also talked about the maximum amount of acquaintances Human beings can handle and still remember each one. This magic number no not ‘Dunbars number’ but similar in thinking is around 1000.

Temporal Distance vs Construel level thinking
Distant Future you can think ‘hey man that sounds like fun’ however as it comes to the immediate future then you start to think of all of the things you need to do which makes it more difficult to commit to it. Closer others (Socially speaking) do not always have a greater impact than distant others. Instead, recommendations from close others are more influential in shifting near-future preferences than those from distant others, whereas recommendations from distant others are more influential than those from close others in shifting distant-future preferences.

More Abstract Choices mean they think higher level/Group/Stick
More Concrete Choices meant they think lower/individual/Carrot
Its less important to do good in Japan and much more important to do good in Japan! If you are however doing good things what do you want to do? i.e. it may be that a good thing from a Japanese POV is quite different form USA. For example helping an individual is probably of less interest than helping say an area of society..maybe..

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