Posts filed under ‘japan’

Asian youth and the mobile phone

Ju (MindShare, Regional Insights) writes:

mobilelife.jpgThe mobile phone has become an indispensible equipment for Asian youth. PwC’s 2007 survey of nearly 8,000 of their staff from 17 countries around the world (78% aged between 16-34 yrs) revealed a whopping 98% mobile penetration rate in Asia-Pacific countries, with a significantly lower 62% fixed-line penetration rate.

The first Asia Scout Network pan-regional summary report by MindShare is therefore dedicated to the mobile phone – how mobiles mold the lifestyles of Asian youth and vice versa.  Findings are based on updates on the Asia Scout Network blog from our city scouts in Tokyo, Singapore, Jakarta, Bangkok, Sydney, Shanghai, and Kuala Lumpur.

The headlines are:
1) Asian youth pimp their mobiles
2) Mobilizing communities
3) Japan’s contagious QR codes
4) Mobile multimedia gains momentum
5) Making ‘Hero’ features visible
6) What lies beyond

Download the full report:asia-scout-network-the-mobile-life.pdf

August 28, 2007 at 3:00 am 2 comments

36 (Asian) Youth Facts in 159 Seconds

Ju (MindShare, Regional Team) writes:

The threebillion project put together a fascinating video on behalf of MTV Asia for the Music Matters Conference in Hong Kong late May ’07. The video features 36 facts dedicated to Asian youth in 159 seconds.

From threebillion: Whether it be teenage marriage in India, mobile phone usage in Japan, Filipino TV watching or Saudi Arabian Bluetooth porn, each market is rich it’s own brand of youth culture. This video is dedicated to the best thirty six facts we could find.

For those still waiting for the day the internet is free from censorship, here are all the facts and some screen captures of the video, courtesy of Global Nerdy.


  • There are 3 billion people under 25 on this planet
  • 61% of them live in Asia
  • 67% of young Asians have downloaded music in the last month
  • Only 27% paid for it
  • Hong Kong youth spend the most time online per day (4.7 hours)
  • Indonesian youth spend the least (0.9 hours)
  • Young Filipinos watch the most TV per day (6.2 hours)
  • Young Chinese watch the least (3.2 hours)
  • There are 37.5 million gamers in China
  • 90% play online games
  • Weekly, Korean teenagers will spend
    • 14 hours on the computer…
    • .12.8 hours watching TV
    • 0.7 hours reading newspapers
  • Taiwan has the highest teenage birthrate in Asia
  • South Korea has the lowest
  • 45% of young Japanese women said they were in love
  • Only 30% of young Japanese men said the same
  • 82% of Japanese teen males said they used contraception the first time they had sex
  • Only 12% of Japanese 20-year-olds use the home PC to access the internet — the same level as 50-year-olds — they’re using their mobile phones instead
  • 26% of all youth deaths in China are from suicide
  • In India, 50% of girls will be married before they are 18
  • In Nepal, the rate is 60%
  • 85% of Korean teenagers own a cell phone
  • They send an average of 60 messages per day
  • 46% of students send messages in class
  • “Our children are seriously addicted to cell phones” — Parent’s Union Spokesperson
  • Chinese people spend 10x more money on the internet than people in the west
  • It represents 10% of their monthly income
  • Who prefers a laid-back hassle-free lifestyle?
    • 14% of Chinese teens
    • 22% of South Korean teens
    • 43% of Japanese teens
  • 99% of Saudi teens use Bluetooth
  • 99% said that the device had broken social taboos
  • 85% said it was safe for communication with the opposite sex
  • 69% of messages exchanged by Saudi teens were pornographic

June 18, 2007 at 1:31 pm 4 comments

Australian bank invents iPodinomics


Paul (MindShare, Bangkok) writes:

The famous Big Mac Index, developed by the Economist Magazine over 20 yrs ago, now has a new challenger in the form of the Ipod. Burgernomics is based on the theory of purchasing-power parity, the notion that a dollar should buy the same amount in all countries.

The people at Commenwealth Securities in Australia believe that their IPod Index is superior to the Big Mac index for a number of reasons. Read more here: The CommSec iPod Index.

Here’s how Asia compares:

CommSec iPod nano index, 2 gigabytes, US dollars, January 2007

Brazil $327.71
India $222.27
Sweden $213.03
Denmark $208.25
Belgium $205.81
France $205.80
Finland $205.80
Ireland $205.79
UK $195.04
Austria $192.86
Netherlands $192.86
Spain $192.86
Italy $192.86
Germany $192.46
China $179.84
Korea $176.17
Switzerland $175.59
NZ $172.53
Australia $172.36
Taiwan $164.88
Singapore $161.25
Mexico $154.46
US $149.00
Japan $147.63
Hong Kong $147.63

February 13, 2007 at 2:34 pm 1 comment

Japan’s ad-supported photocopying

Shardul (MindShare, Japan) writes:

Oceanize is a student start-up company that is installing free photo-copying facilities in Tokyo Universities. The facilities are completely funded through corporate advertising on the back of the photo-copy papers.

The ‘free’ part is very attractive to students and the facilities are getting heavily used. The advertisers are attracted to it because of the sizeable student population that they can easily reach and the ads stay with the students longer.

James’ recent article on ‘Why give FIFA 07 away for free in Korea?’ talked about the trend of offering free products supported on advertising revenue. The free photo-copying facilities are another example of the same trend.

February 10, 2007 at 7:37 pm 1 comment

Branding with barcodes in Japan


Shardul (MindShare, Japan) writes:

A highly innovative way through which new media has been created in Japan:

All of us know about barcodes. They are the black and white stripes which store machine readable information. But they are dull, to say the least, and almost always ignored by both marketers and consumers.

Design Barcode, a Japanese four-man agency, has converted these barcodes into a new avenue of advertising. They have redesigned the black and white stripes space to incorporate images. For example, for the weight loss company Jenny Craig, the barcode becomes the waistband of a pair of pants; a code for the Hiroshima Museum takes the shape of a mushroom cloud.

This piece of innovation won the agency a Titanium Lion at the International Advertising Festival in Cannes. Here’s a video showing some of their ideas.

Will people notice these redesigned barcodes? I think that in the initial stages, the uniqueness of these barcodes will ensure that people pay attention to them. Post that period however, it will be up to good old creativity to ensure attention and message communication.

For more on this story, visit Springwise: Repacking Barcodes

February 10, 2007 at 11:30 am 1 comment

Variations on iTunes song list and pricing – Japan most expensive


David (MindShare Thailand) writes:

Some interesting stuff via Gizmodo about iTunes’ pricing in various markets,
including a link that suggests Japanese customers are paying an 80% premium over Americans. The blogosphere has picked up on the dramatic variations in iTunes pricing and artist availability in various markets, and the restrictions that iTunes put on cross-border purchasing, starting here. I can understand to some extent the variable pricing, although the variations seem even more extreme than I remember from working with brick-and-mortar music retailers. But why make some Japanese performers available only to home-market consumers with local credit cards?

I have had similar experiences locally, where I can “look at but not touch” iTunes’ UK stock. In the Land of Smiles (and very good copies of digital media), this policy discourages the purchase of legitimate stock and does little to accelerate The Big Switch.

January 26, 2007 at 8:27 am Leave a comment

Does iPhone have enough to win in Japan?

James (MindShare regional, Singapore) writes:

Michael at Japan Marketing News just wrote an interesting review of the prospects for Apple’s iPhone in Japan. It looks like things will be tough. Most interesting was the list of things that Japanese phones do, that Apple’s new model doesn’t (yet):

– Contain IC chips that let you charge retail products to your phone and board trains with automatic ticket purchasing.
– Are equipped to read QR codes (special Japanese bar codes that allow consumers to access information like coupons and website data).
– Incorporate safety features like fingerprint scanners to prevent others from using your phone.
– Let you watch broadcast TV.
– Have much higher-resolution built-in cameras.
– Allow conference calling with up to five people.

January 17, 2007 at 2:59 pm 1 comment

Japanese street mob stunt. Inspired by flashmobbing?

James (MindShare regional team, Singapore) writes:

Apart from it being hilarious, all I know about this is what I read at youtube, after finding it via Paul at weird news asia:

This is a clip from ‘Troop of One Hundred’, taken from a Japanese comedy/prank show, where a 100 people chase after random strangers and you see their reactions. Totally harmless but their reactions are priceless.

This is the first time I’ve actually seen something that looks like flashmobbing in Asia. I guess it’s not really flashmobbing, because it’s staged for a TV show, rather than ‘born’ spontaneously from digital and social media.

To find out more about flashmobbing, with some incredible examples, go to wikipedia, where you’ll find this definition

flash mob describes a group of people who assemble suddenly in a public place, do something unusual for a brief period of time, and then quickly disperse. They are usually organized with the help of the Internet or other digital communications networks.

Has anybody seen examples of flashmobbing in Asia yet?

January 16, 2007 at 1:42 am 2 comments

Japanese Ginza shoppers tagged (MindShare regional team, Singapore) writes:

In your Christmas drunken haze you may have missed this important CNN report from Japan:

Stores in central Tokyo are set to beam news of special offers, menus and coupons to passers-by in a trial run of a radio-tagging system.

The Tokyo Ubiquitous Network Project, which launches in the glitzy Ginza district next month, sends shoppers information from nearby shops via a network of radio-frequency identification tags, infrared and wireless transmitters, according to the project’s Web site.

Shoppers can either rent a prototype reader or get messages on their cell phones. The tags and transmitters identify a reader or phone’s location and match it to information provided by shops.

Apparently Ginza will be blanketed with 10,000 RFID tags. Am I the only one who thinks of that scene in Minority Report where Tom Cruise is chased by personal advertising throughout the airport/mall?

The trial will take place during January to March. Very keen to know the results. If it’s successful, we can be sure this will spread like wildfire across Asia…and the world.

January 10, 2007 at 3:42 pm Leave a comment

70% Chinese PC broadband users watch TV


 James (MindShare regional team,Singapore) writes:

It’s not everyday you get to download millions of dollars worth of free data and analysis. But that’s basically what the UK government’s Ofcom report on International Communications markets is. It covers dozens of markets, but the special Asian focus is Japan and China.

No surprise that Japan consistently leads the world in the mobile arena throughout the report.But perhaps more surprising is that China broadband users lead the world in TV clip/programme viewing via the PC.

From the data (sorry the chart is blurred) you can see that 70% of all Chinese broadband users had viewed or downloaded TV. This was FAR ahead of other markets like Japan (just over 40%) and USA (under 40%).The chart also shows a generation divide in China, as across the world, with over 80% of 18-24 year olds having downloaded TV, versus just over 60% of 45-54 year olds.

Some other highlights for me in the report:

  • 33% Japanese claim to watch less TV since getting broadband internet

  • More Chinese (76%) broadband users have downloaded music than any other market

  • Chinese watch less TV (154 mins per day) than other markets in the study (US 271 mins, Japan 311 mins)

  • Asia has 53% of the world’s TV households, but only 19% of the TV revenues

  • More Japanese watch TV at breakfast (29%) than in other markets by a long way

  • China TV viewership is less concentrated in the top 5 channels (26%) than any market in the world. The next closest market was US (35%)

January 4, 2007 at 1:01 pm Leave a comment

‘Collabo!’ goes sexy in Thailand


Ju (MindShare regional team) writes:

In 2004, Asian youth agency The Filter Group picked up on the ‘collaboration culture’, then still a bubbling hot trend among Japanese youth (“collabo!”). The following description of the trend has been excerpted from a presentation by The Filter Group co-founder and CEO, Ian Stewart (now VP, MTV Asia Research and Planning):

The past few years have seen a huge number of collaborations – within a category, two different categories, low and high culture, old with new. The list is endless. Look to BAPE, Future, Stussy, Adidas, Nike, Lee, Yamamoto, Calvin Klein, KuBrick, Puma as some of the pioneers

Japan is leading this charge, citing rapidly moving trend cycles, and a consumer need for innovation and for the unusual as some of the reasons. And now other markets around Asia have started to follow…

CUTTING THRU… Brands that are collaborating have found new sales streams, new consumer segments, a revived brand image, and new partner-driven opportunities.

From the likes of Adidas X Goodyear, Levi’s X Jeep, and Pepsi X BAPE comes Thailand’s own local collaboration: lingerie brand ‘Metinee by Jintana’.

Thai supermodel and former Miss Thailand, Metinee Kingpayom (Luk-Ked), partnered with Jintana Intertrade, the 48-yr-old, largest lingerie producer in Thailand to launch her first four collections: ‘Kiss’, ‘Grace’, ‘Passion’, and ‘Lacey Eyes’.

The partnership has given Jintana’s image a big boost, shifting it from old, local, ‘my-mom-used-to-wear-it’ brand into one that is fashionable, confident, for the new generation of modern working woman. Metinee herself is a local icon for the internationally-bred supermodel and businesswoman. The launch party’s coverage on Thailand’s fashion TV, Chic Channel, has also done a great job in sealing the brand’s ‘fashion’ element.

A beautiful example of how the global trends of ‘Massclusivity’ and ‘Beauty by Design’ are slowly filtering into Thailand’s local mainstream. ‘Kiss’ anyone?

January 4, 2007 at 6:42 am Leave a comment

Blogs help form Asian communities of cool


Ju (Mindshare regional team, Bangkok) writes:

Complementing my post on bloggers on Honeyee and the Nike+ Challenge, it seems that, even outside of Japan, opinion leaders of youth culture are blogging their way to establish themselves as leaders of the cool community.

These are a few examples from the Tribal Times report on Online Communities:

In Hong Kong, the popular street magazine Milk Magazine has its own roster of music artists signed onto their record label ‘SillyThing’. Silly Thing’s official site ‘Think Silly‘ links to its artists’ blogs who use the portal to build their fan community. Among those blogs is that of Milk’s founder TK, which features products, ideas, and anything else that catches his attention.

Singapore’s cool kids are following Terratag, a graphics design brand of ‘innovative anglo-japanese hybrid’ that spans the world of fashion, art, and design. Terratag’s creations, personality, and events are brought to life via its website, two blogs (LiveJournal and Blogspot), a MySpace account, and photos on Fotolog and Flickr. Its UK creator has traveled to Singapore and Malaysia to open exhibitions last year.

In Bangkok there is ‘DudeSweet‘ which began as an indie-rock cult, but now organizes events ranging from club nights to fashion shows. Its founder’s MySpace account connects to the community of figures that define the local alternative world of music and the arts. The page shows flyers for upcoming events, offers visitors a discount to its parties, and includes a mailing list.

Being avid networkers and content generators, these opinion leaders have learned how to direct online activities for their own real-world interests. By allowing members to cross back and forth between virtual and physical worlds, these blogs can strengthen a sub-culture’s sense of community, and consequently, their engagement with associated brands.

December 18, 2006 at 5:55 am 4 comments

Japanese cool kids run with Nike+iPod


Ju (Mindshare regional team, Bangkok) writes:

Last week, trend site PSFK reported on Honeyee (which translates as ‘honey comb’). Besides being a web magazine that is THE source of Japanese street culture and events, the site is also known for its link to a community of bloggers who are well-established in the creative field. Bloggers connected to the site range from NYC graf legend KAWS, Hong Kong street culture ‘it-kid’ Edison Chen – hip-hop star, actor, co-founder of Clot – clothing & music label/PR agency/Design consultancy, Shinichi Osawa, one of Japan’s most innovative and stylish creators of acid jazz, R&B, and house music, John C. Jay, Wieden and Kennedy’s Executive Creative Director / Partner, and Jeff Staples, founder of Staple Design which designs for Nike, Louis Vuitton/Moet Hennessey, Puma, Sony Playstation, and more.

Nike Japan has creatively capitalized on Honeyee through the Nike+ Challenge which challenges a team of four bloggers, led by Honeyee founder Hiroshi Fujiwra, to run a collective distance of 1,200 km. Their running experience is documented on Nike+’s blog on Honeyee, which also shows each person’s running distance, tracked real-time using the Nike+ iPod gear, and features alot of Nike gear. I couldn’t read Japanese but just from the pictures, even I was inspired to run. A great way for a brand to engage the street culture community.

Note: I got the main content of the Nike+ Challenge story by trying to make sense of the Japanese to English translation through Google Translate tools (which is close to gibberish), so if anyone has more info to add to this, or you find that some facts are inaccurate, please help by leaving a comment.

December 18, 2006 at 4:54 am Leave a comment

What Japanese women (don’t) want

James (Singapore) writes:

I’ve always loved lists. Everybody loves lists. This Japanese rank list, just found at Mari’s magazine/diary Watashi to Tokyo, is completely compelling. It’s basically a survey of what Japanese women hate about guys

No1. He acts arrogant at the restaurant or shop : 1017
No2. He asks to split the bill, it’s 10yen : 985
No3. He panics when he finds a cockroach or other bugs : 871
No4. After eating, he cleans his teeth by toothpick without hesitating : 852
No5. There are too many figures on his office desk : 767
No6. Printed T-shirts can be seen through his shirt : 633
No7. He is poor at parking a car : 620
No8. He looks good in a suit but his ordinary clothes are so so :602 

No9. He really gets into cell phone games on the train : 528
No10. He wipes his face with the “OSHIBORI” (hand towel) at a restaurant : 463
No11. He is not good at wiring, he is not good with the PC : 453
No12. His wallet is big because of receipts and useless cards : 431
No13. He checks and gives his hair a trim in the subway window : 400
No14. He wear a nice business suit but his socks are white and cotton : 336
No15. He uses pictographic characters on his cell phone mail :304
No16. His hand writing is so bad so that we can’t read it at the office : 295
No17. His typing is too fast and too loud : 210
No18. He collects point cards or coupons a lot : 157
No19. He likes to drink sweet cocktails like Kahlua milk: 152

Now apart from reminding me to work on a few personal habits (and also wondering what’s going on in Japan with #15 pictographic cell phone mails), this list reminds me about some simple opportunities to engage with audiences.

The simplest ideas are the best. Why don’t brands and marketers make more use of lists like this? Just one simple list like this can be transformed into a full, engaging communications campaign.

When content is simple and engaging enough, it can be spread, or even spread itself, across all kinds of digital and traditional media.

If you like the power of lists, you should read an earlier posting on a Japanese retail concept ranKing ranQueen.

November 30, 2006 at 7:47 am 1 comment

Korea’s latest cultural export to Japan: citizen journalism

Next month Korea’s citizen journalist online newspaper OhmyNews will launch in Japan, and many are wondering whether it will create the revolution it has caused in Korea.

First off, a few fast facts on OhmyNews, courtesy of Wikipedia and the site itself:

  • Motto “Every Citizen is a Reporter”
  • Founded by Oh Yeon Ho in 2000
  • First of its kind in the world to accept, edit and publish articles from its readers, in an open source style of news reporting
  • ~20% of the site’s content is written by the 55-person staff while the majority of articles are written by an army of 41,000 ‘citizen reporters’
  • OhmyNews makes 60 to 70 percent of its money from ads, 20 percent from syndicating content, and 5 to 10 percent from reader donations
  • It pays contributors around $20 for newsworthy pieces, and it also offers professional editing and fact-checking to contributors
  • It has up to 700,000 visitors a day.
  • OhmyNews was influential in determining the outcome of the South Korean presidential elections in December 2002 with the election of Roh Moo Hyun. After being elected, Roh granted his first interview to OhmyNews.
  • Th business is profitable, with $6 million in annual revenues, and just scored an $11-million investment from Softbank in March

So will OhmyNews succeed in Japan? According to an interesting post at Japundit, the new chief editor himself, Shuntaro Torigoe, sees 3 barriers: 

1) Attitude to Politics
In Korea, many citizens are very involved in politics often voicing their opinions and protests.In Japan politics is often seen as a horse race. Many people are content with current Prime Koizumi. Those who are not are not very vocal.

2) Perception Towards Mainstream Media
Many Koreans mistrust the mainstream media whereas many Japanese regard the Japanese mainstream media quite highly.

3) Cultural Differences
Many Japanese are not comfortable expressing themselves or getting into heated confrontational discussions.

I’m certainly no expert on the Japan-Korea relationship, but it does seem that Korea has been doing relatively more exporting to Japan of content, popular culture and innovation over the past 5 or 6 years. Perhaps the flow will continue, or perhaps the Japanese will draw the line at importing something as ‘serious’ as a domestic news media from Korea.

By the way, you don’t need to Korean to enjoy ‘OMN’ – they’ve got an English international version now at

July 23, 2006 at 3:52 pm Leave a comment

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