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Dentsu PR Yomu-Yomu
Trend Prediction Guide
Dentsu Public Relations Inc.
What kind of year will 2016 be for the Japanese market?
In this guide, making the most of Dentsu PR’s know-how and research resources, we
present our predictions for 2016, divided into “Trends” and “Topics.”
So which trends and topics will come to the fore in 2016?
However you choose to use this information, whether as advice for planning or as fuel for
discussion, we hope it proves helpful.
* “Dentsu PR Yomu-Yomu” represents the individual views of the editors and not of the
company as a whole.
From “owners” to “sharers”
The form of “sharing” is currently expanding from connections between people to
connections with items and services. Developments such as the “C-to-C market,” involving
transactions of goods and services between consumers, and the “sharing economy,”
utilizing available resources of individuals and companies, are attracting a great deal of
interest in the business world. While the arrival in Japan of certain services from overseas
has been in the news, we are also seeing the launch of Japanized versions of services such
as private lodging rental/listing and car-sharing. What’s more, there is increasing
diversification of sharing services provided by companies, for items including clothes, bags
and accessories, to the point where “buying” something no longer necessarily means
“owning” it. With growing numbers of “simplists” and “minimalists,” as sharing, to only use
things when they are really needed, becomes a more widespread consumer trend, this will
likely transform the way we view “ownership.” Could it also change the form of goods and
services that businesses should sell?
Alongside diversification of values, we are beginning to see changes in the way that people
live and work, reflected in aspects such as company policy and sales style, with “nimousaku”
(literally meaning “to raise two crops a year”) as a keyword.
This “double-cropping” lifestyle involves people being based in the big city but living a
number of months of the year, or a few days a week, somewhere in the countryside. You
may work for a regular company while also being attached to another company or NPO at
the same time. With an increasingly wide range of living options, this new kind of lifestyle
should become even more common in 2016, to the point where it is no longer restricted to
the special few.
As individuals adopt a double-cropping lifestyle, so we can also expect to see more
double-cropping business policy and sales philosophies. An area where this is already
happening is the restaurant industry. While it’s not unusual for restaurants and cafes to
pursue quite different business concepts and target customers between lunch and dinner
time, Editor-in-Chief Suga of the Japan Food Service News is confident that this trend will
start to spread widely into other locations such as food courts. The attitude that “you are
missing out by living or doing things just one way” and “you only live once so try and have
double the fun” looks set to become more and more prevalent.
The world’s grandest sporting festival, of which the latest installment is due to take place in
Rio de Janeiro this summer, is an occasion that always ignites a passion for sport in adults
who used to be sporty as children As such, this year is certain to be a big one for sports. On
top of this, a partial revision to the Industrial Safety and Health Act, making stress checks
compulsory for businesses, should help to spur a further rise in health consciousness. In this
sporty climate, one trend drawing increasing attention is non-serious or non-competitive type
sports. Some examples of this are “home delivery fitness,” involving large buses loaded up
with fitness measurement and training equipment, and so-called “yuru-spo” (laid-back
sports) such as hand soap ball (a version of handball where players are required to apply a
liquid hand soap-like colored lotion which makes their hands slippery) which offer the appeal
of an easy, light-hearted form of exercise. You could say that the aspect of being able to
participate casually matches the lifestyle of people nowadays. In addition, more companies
are introducing “office sports,” which allow employees to enjoy playing sports with each other.
For people who tend to only get enthusiastic about sports once every four years, this could
finally be the year where sports and fitness becomes a regular part of life.
Beloved wives and devoted husbands
In 2016, we predict an increasing number of women in their late 20s and early 30s who are
aiming to be an “ai-sare-tsuma,” or beloved wife. On SNS platforms, articles by women
proclaiming how kind, loving and devoted their husbands are to them are attracting plenty of
“likes.” It seems that, for many, marriage is no longer a goal in itself. Rather, the proof that
you’re a “winner” is being treated as a beloved wife by your husband after marriage.
While they’d be expected to have moved on from the “man-hunting” phase of their life, these
married women, who wish to “be loved by one man alone,” are reading books and attending
seminars to learn how to be desired once more. It looks like there will be a boost in demand
this year for services giving advice on behavior, fashion, makeup and cooking, in order to
become a beloved woman and in turn wife. At the same time, there are more men who are
publically professing how much they love their wives, and we can expect to see more focus
on activities promoting how loving one’s wife can enhance communication between couples.
2016 will be a year which witnesses the further evolution of Tokyo. Looking ahead to 2020,
various parts of the city, including Ginza, Shinjuku, Akasaka and Otemachi, are undergoing
major redevelopment, and new spots are emerging one after another.
A key aspect in this development is enhancement of inbound tourism. The upscale shopping
district of Ginza will see two large-scale facilities open in 2016. Firstly in the spring on the
site of the old Hankyu department store, and then in November on the site of the old
Matsuzaka department store, both sites will house a wealth of luxury brand outlets. With
these exciting renewals in the pipeline, Ginza looks set to become even more popular as a
center for “bakugai” (literally “explosive buying”). Also, in the summer, the former site of the
Akasaka Prince Hotel will reopen as the new, top grade hotel in the Prince Hotel family. The
business district of Otemachi, near Tokyo Station, is also experiencing a hotel construction
rush, including traditional Japanese inns, or ryokans, in response to predicted demand from
inbound tourists. There’s sure to be a lot of attention on whether Tokyo can transform itself
into a truly international tourist capital.
Big Bang for entertainment?
There’s a sense that we are approaching a turning point for music fans. Some big venues in
the greater Tokyo area, such as Yokohama Arena and Saitama Super Arena, will be
undergoing major refurbishment in 2016. As a result, this year is expected to be a problem,
one, in terms of the lack of large-scale live music venues, already referred in some circles as
the “2016 problem.” However, this could also give rise to completely new forms of culture.
Already, we have seen examples of music events offering new experiences, like an outdoor
festival held on reclaimed land under development, and a club event taking up a whole train.
In the entertainment world as a whole including music, we should see even more of these
unique live venues springing up. There could also be more small events, allowing for greater
interaction between fans and performers, which is surely good news for fans!
The rise of the Ninja
It seems that ninjas, which are already a prominent content of “Cool Japan,” will emerge
further from the shadows in 2016. “Ninja tours” are proving a big tourism hit and foreign
tourists dressed up as ninjas are an increasingly common sight, as the “Ninja boom” gathers
pace. Another sign of this is the formation of the Japan Ninja Council in October 2015, made
up of regional governments from areas with ninja connections, including Kanagawa, Nagano,
Mie, Shiga and Saga. The governors of each of these prefectures have all declared their
high hopes for the “ninja effect.” What’s more, February 22, 2016 will be the inaugural “Ninja
Day” (the date being chosen as 2 is pronounced “ni” or “nin” in Japanese), with events
planned all over the country to mark the occasion. Looking ahead, expect to see more
businesses getting involved in addition to local governments, as ninja contents spread
throughout Japan and around the world.
Delicious local delicacies
The impulse to share one’s delicious food experiences shows no sign of stopping. Following
those “in the know,” the hit sweets for 2016 should include some traditional confectioneries
that have remained a well-kept local secret until recently. According to sweets blogger Amai
Keiki (“sweet cake”), since the Italian pastry sfogliatella was featured on TV last Year, a
series of other similar, previously little known, local pastries, such as coda di aragosta, have
already been discovered by Japanese enthusiasts, and their popularity is growing. It also
seems likely that we will see the reevaluation of some existing well-known sweets, such as
marshmallows, with new ways of eating being suggested.
“Local” looks set to be the keyword in the world of food as a whole this year. The government
is expected to form an investigative committee to look into a domestic unified labeling
standard for wild game, which may well result in various delicacies, which until now have
only been eaten locally or in particular restaurants, spreading more widely to other parts of
Dentsu PR Featured Projects
International PR award-winning projects utilizing fundamental problem solving and
●Marukome: Rocking out with miso soup!
In the autumn of 2014, Marukome Co., a dominant name in the miso
soup business for 160 years, released a new, unique product with the
aim of attracting the young people of Japan back to this quintessential
Japanese food. With its president at the forefront, the company was
determined to connect with a more youthful demographic, and launched
a campaign with a rock music theme to “soup up” its “uncool” brand
image. Collaborating with popular rock band “Miso Shiru’s” (The Miso
Soups) the world’s first “miso bathed in rock music”
was created by playing the band’s own blend of rock
to the miso during the manufacturing process. The
brand’s familiar mascot, a shaven-headed apprentice
monk named Marukome-kun, was also given a major
rock-themed makeover with the addition of a mohican
hairstyle, while the company hosted a food stand at a
rock festival and opened a pop-up store in the trendy
Tokyo district of Harajuku. These various initiatives all helped to pique the interest of young
people around Japan. The company’s SNS fans increased 1.5 times thanks to the campaign,
and the number of people accessing its new graduate recruitment webpage doubled from
the previous year. The new miso soup variety also sold out in no time on Japan’s premier
e-commerce site Rakuten, and was introduced by three of major domestic convenience
store chains, helping sales to reach over six times the original goal.
From autumn 2015, Marukome launched a follow-up campaign on the concept of “MISO
KAWAII” (cute), featuring the company’s first female character Marukome-chan, to promote
the appeal of miso soup to the world. And 2016 should see the launch of another special
edition miso soup, too!
(Dentsu and Dentsu PR)
By changing the design of a long-established brand icon, there was
a risk losing some of the existing fans and prompting negative
reactions from consumers, but the company boldly went ahead with
the idea. As well as helping with the marketing communication
objective of sparking demand among younger target consumers, this dynamic image change
contributed to solving an important corporate communications issue that the company was
experiencing, namely low graduate recruitment.
●DOLE: The “Wearable_Banana”
Dole Japan Inc. has been a sponsor of the Tokyo Marathon since 2008. For the 2015 edition
of the event, it focused on promoting the recovery effects of its sports bananas for runners,
and capitalized on the upcoming release of the Apple Watch,, to create a wearable device
from a banana. Media from around the world was caught up in the buzz, generating
headlines such as “Forget the apple watch, Dole makes a wearable banana“ from
technology-centric website CNET, which spread to make the news in Japan as well. A video
on the campaign posted on YouTube was accessed by viewers in 178 countries, and
attracted a host of media inquiries. Thanks to this campaign, sales of Dole bananas doubled
in the week following the Tokyo Marathon.
(Dentsu Y&R/Dentsu PR)
The campaign succeeded in generating buzz by making bananas a highly relevant
“wearable device” for runners. By formulating a sharable story based around the concept of
“Apple vs Banana,” this PR campaign was realized with impeccable timing.