TOKYO (AdAge.com) -- Every year in late November, Dentsu's Center for Consumer Studies releases a study about hit products in Japan, detailing the most-popular and most-talked-about products and services in the world's second largest economy. This year's report is based on an internet survey carried out among 1,000 men and women nationwide aged between 20 and 69.
The list is always interesting. Tech geeks revel in Japan's cutting-edge technology. Trend spotters look for next year's global fad. And everyone looks for the latest fun, wacky and innovative gadgets that could only come from Japan.
Dentsu's 2009 study isn't a light read, however. It reflects the grim realities facing Japanese and the rest of the world -- the environment, the economy and the need to help out the next generation.
Hybrid vehicles topped the list this year, a much higher showing than its 24th place spot last year. Japanese citizens are also looking for vehicles eligible for tax reductions and eco-vehicle purchasing subsidies, eco-point energy-saving home appliances, electric vehicles, an electronic toll collection system, LED light bulbs and solar panels.
Flu masks came in second place this year, a reaction to the global spread of swine flu.
The Japanese are also searching for new ways to stretch their yen. The survey cited high interest in low-priced domestic fashions, private-brand products, B-grade products, jeans priced at 1,000 yen ($11.41) or less, low-priced notebook PCs, products and services benefiting from the Japanese government's fixed-amount cash handouts, including bonuses given to new parents.
Dentsu says Japanese consumers are undergoing changes in consciousness and behavior that might be described as "transformed consumption behavior." While fortifying their lives to defend against a prolonged recession, consumers also revealed glimpses of an intention to pursue "life restructuring" for the 2010s by leveraging the "art of smart consumption." The very concept of pricing will change as goods and services become incomparably inexpensive.
Not all of the hit products reflected gloom and doom, though. The Japanese are still into digital broadcasting-equipped widescreen flat-panel TVs (No. 7 on the list, down from third place last year). They crave anything connected to the Oscar-winning film "Okuribito" or to Michael Jackson. They've acquired a taste for near-beer beverages.
And this year's most-bizarre gadget? Heat-generating and heat-retaining underwear.
2009 Hit Products Top 20 List:
- Hybrid vehicles (24)
- Flu masks (-)
- Low-priced domestic fashions (-)
- Vehicles eligible for tax reductions and eco-vehicle purchasing subsidies (-)
- Eco-point energy-saving home appliances (-)
- ETC (electronic toll collection) system (-)
- Digital broadcasting-equipped widescreen flat-panel TVs (3)
- Electric vehicles (-)
- Private-brand products (4)
- B-grade products (-)
- The Oscar-winning movie "Okuribito" ("Departures") (-)
- Heat-generating and heat-retaining underwear
- Products and services benefiting from expressway toll reductions
- Jeans priced at 1,000 yen (or less) (-)
- Low-priced notebook PCs (-)
- LED light bulbs (-)
- Alcohol-free beer-like beverages (-)
- Products and services benefiting from the Japanese government's fixed-amount cash handouts (-)
- Solar panels and household solar power generation systems (-)
- Michael Jackson-related products (-)