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WIT Life #22: Consumers' What's Hot and What's Not 2008

WITLife is a periodic series written by professional Interpreter/Translator/Writer Stacy Smith (Kumamoto-ken, 2000-03).  Recently she’s been watching Fujisankei's newscast in Japanese and sharing some of the interesting tidbits and trends together with her own observations.

The start to a new year always invites reflection on the previous one. Some of this delving is not so pleasant (i.e. 2008 fourth quarter earnings), but looking at other aspects such as best sellers from the year can be very enjoyable. The magazine Nikkei Marketing Journal annually examines the latter and uses sumo rankings for its classification system. 

They came up with 36 items for last year, and appropriate of 2008’s declining economy a theme running through the list was low price and good value. For example, the top rankings of Yokozuna East went to clothing store Uniqlo and Yokozuna West went to Seven Premium Top Valu, an in-house discount brand from the retailer Aeon (i.e. Jusco). Ozeki East was captured by microcomputers going for around 50,000 yen, and Ozeki West went to the fat-fighting Wii Fit, which has become a sensation here in the States too.


According to the editor of Nikkei Marketing Journal, the selections reflected the recession. The winning products were picked by consumers based on not just cheapness, but also because of high quality allowing them to trust and feel comfortable with them. He noted the shift from luxury goods to practical ones, and identified keywords for 2009 hit products as deflation, high functionality and the environment.

Indeed, the idea of being green has long been celebrated in Japan and received special attention last year with the July Toyako Summit held in Hokkaido. A concept that emerged from this meeting was 「繰り返し使えるエコ商品」(kurikaeri tsukaeru eko shohin), or reusable environmentally friendly products. One such item was the Shower Clean Suit, a suit that is washable in the shower. By avoiding trips to the dry cleaners you can save both time and money, as well as lessen your toll on the environment.


Another product along these lines is the Eneloop Kairo, a rechargeable pocket warmer. It lasts for 5 hours and its lithium ion battery can be charged in 6. Though currently only available in Japan, it should be noted that there is a commemorative Valentine’s Day edition that has special pink packaging with a heart.

You thought wining and dining your crush was the way to his/her heart, but why not let the Eneloop Kairo work its magic this year?

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