CSR
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Japanese People and Smartphones

Part II: How will news media change?

Japanese People and Smartphones (Part 2)

Typical image for each cluster:

  1. Young male who is very receptive to information about new trends
  2. Unmarried males and females with high academic qualifications are adept at picking up information from the Internet
  3. Middle-aged and elderly white-collar workers with a robust appetite for gathering information
  4. Middle-aged males who live in local regions and have a preference for stability
  5. Females who live in local regions and place importance on lifestyle
  6. Typical female in the new-follower category of the Internet era
  7. A household scene that differs little from that of bygone days
  8. Demographic groups with average media contact but little interest

High-information participants include those with weak social concern

Watanabe:

This research project involved not only investigating the information sources people rely on, but also grouping respondents based on the attributes of our 13 classifications of media usage patterns mentioned above.

Miwa:

We also investigated trends among people in each of these eight groups. One factor we specifically looked at was "motivations and reasons when coming into contact with news related to a field in which you are interested." We were able to gain insights into the kinds of motivation people in the high information participation group have when coming into contact with news. To investigate this, we set up three motivation hypotheses:

  • Personal motivation: personal and lifestyle-based interest driving news contact
  • Harmony motivation: news contact driven by the desire to fit in smoothly with other people, for example when asked, "What did you think of such-and-such that they were talking about on TV?"
  • Social motivation: news contact driven by the desire to show people in one's social group that one is community-minded and has concern for social issues.

Watanabe:

The group with high information participation has a strong tendency to seek information driven by personal motivation. Since they have high media literacy, they often seek out their own original sources, reflecting a voracious appetite for information at a deep, detailed level. Conversely, being so absorbed in such non-mainstream sources, they sometimes miss general news items that just about everyone else would have heard or read about through normal news sources.

Ishikura:

In our research, we found the following case. In July 2015, there was a light-aircraft accident in which an airplane crashed after taking off from Tokyo's Chofu Airport. Several days later, we conducted face-to-face interviews with university students, to whom we showed a prepared list and who we then asked, "Are you familiar with any of these items through recent news?" None of the students had heard about the airplane accident. We then asked them, "Do you think it could be awkward for you if you didn't know about that news?" Their response was that they don't talk about that kind of news with their friends, revealing low interest in such topics. They are interested in things related to school or their friends. We were surprised because, despite being active Internet users, they displayed a low level of social concern.

Miwa:

If we liken traditional mass media to the foot of a connected range of Alps, then news curation media could be thought of as individual mountains within that range, only separated at the base. The high information participation group has high Internet literacy, so they walk along the mountain ridges and arrive at the points that interest them. Meanwhile, as long as the news being talked about by people at the foot of the mountains does not become topical among their social peers, those peers won't come into contact with that news. I believe that the high information participation group's situation can be fairly described in this way. If we then look at the group with strong emphasis on Internet-based information, they make balanced media selections and come into contact with news driven by social motivation. Once again recapping, I don't think that one can argue that, just because people have high media literacy and come into contact with information frequently, they also have high social concern. Penetration of the Internet does not necessarily lead to higher levels of social concern, and it is probably necessary to observe this phenomenon closely.

Amano:

We identified three distinct characteristics of younger demographic groups that rely on news curation media. First, rather than such current affairs that involve politics or economics, they have high interest in comics and anime, and their sphere of interest is casual. Second, their method of contact with, and motivation for viewing, news and information is to satisfy personal interest and share topics with friends. Third, and related to the previous two points, in terms of information behavior and consumer awareness, rather than having strong preferences they tend to be driven a lot by trends. We might say that they are sensitive to fitting in with their peers and what is deemed acceptable within their social group.

Watanabe:

A survey, enquiring about the purpose for which media are used and the associated situations, shows that news curation media and SNSs have a close relationship. However, magazines are also quite closely related. I found this very interesting.

Miwa:

Since around 2006, attention has been focused on what is called middle media, or mid-scale, theme-based web sites that are independent from traditional media. Fashion-related news web sites are said to be independently viable, and recently we have seen discussion surrounding the phenomenon of hobby information and information traditionally handled by magazines taking on news value. The popularization of smartphones could be said to have accelerated this trend. Seen from another perspective, this marks the arrival of a media society that is able to cater to people's diverse interests. It is ushering in new possibilities in the area of marketing and, I believe, we should welcome this type of development. For example, there has been a boom in people making pilgrimages to places of special interest to fans of particular anime franchises. The spotlight has also been cast on specific places and vocations driven by manga stories that have covered such areas. These and other examples show that booms can now be driven by factors that have not emerged from a traditional news context.

Information distribution and consumption are more polarized—like the humps of a Bactrian camel

Oku:

Finally, let's talk about how we should react to the survey results.

Amano:

Through this research, we have seen a clear division between the 20% of people who account for high information participation and the remaining 80%. In other words, we see the existence of the Pareto Principle (the 80/20 rule) in the distribution and consumption of information. We have discerned a structure in which information is concentrating around the high-participation group representing 20% of the population.

Oku:

If we put this another way, rather than having a camel with one hump, where the volume is concentrated in the center, we have a camel with two humps, where there is polarization. Hence, if enterprises attempt to build a marketing strategy based on a middle path with the greatest common divisor, they will almost certainly run into major problems. Consequently, it is crucial to target each of the two poles separately, and implement a communication strategy that assumes division rather than ripple effect. Based on this, we may see counter-intuitive and unexpected results emerge.

Watanabe:

I would just like to add that, if we get closer to the two-hump camel, we can see that there are many small swarms based around specific interests, and these group together to create mountains. The core issue is how to approach the highly volatile swarms. I believe the key word is off-line. In other words, we must approach this problem from a real-world perspective.

Ishikura:

For example, one often hears people commenting about a particular social phenomenon on Twitter. When a man has a girlfriend, he tends to tweet less often; but when a woman has a boyfriend, she tends to tweet more often. This suggests that things occurring in the real world affect people's behavior online.

Kishimoto:

In days gone by, when people had time to kill, they tended to watch TV. This is now shifting to looking at a smartphone screen. But online conversations are often about things people have seen on TV. Leaving aside the issue of whether or not people are watching TV programs as they are broadcast, TV remains a huge presence outside of the online world.

Miwa:

The survey results we got are only a snapshot of the present, and the situation will definitely be different five years from now. How should we view this changing situation, and what actions should we take? I would also like to emphasize the need to overhaul conventional methodologies.

Oku:

That is the difference between Showa1 marketing and Heisei2 marketing. We might look at this as the sphere for challenge and innovation.

Conclusion

The key point is the process of change we are seeing. First, we must gain a strong understanding of the current situation and, based on that, we must plan and repeatedly run checks on what we are doing. It is absolutely vital not to be trapped by existing experience and concepts. This situation has come about as a result of people's around-the-clock, year-round connection to the Internet, and their ability to access news anywhere, anytime using their smartphones. In future, it is unlikely that any media theory can stand up to scrutiny if it doesn't take into account smartphone trends.

1The Showa period corresponds to the reign of Emperor Hirohito (posthumously named Emperor Showa) from December 25, 1926 through January 7, 1989.
2The Heisei period, the current era in Japan, started on January 8, 1989.



Project members

Kanehito Watanabe

Kanehito Watanabe

Research and Analysis Department
Marketing Business Division
Video Research Ltd.

Yuta Ishikura

Yuta Ishikura

Consumer Intelligence Business Development Department
Solution Business Development Division
Video Research Ltd.

Kasumi Kishimoto

Kasumi Kishimoto

TV Business Development Department
Solution Business Development Division
Video Research Ltd.

Ritsuya Oku

Ritsuya Oku

Chief Executive Director, Media Innovation Lab
Dentsu Innovation Institute
Dentsu Inc.

Akira Miwa

Akira Miwa

Research Director, Media Business Innovation Department
Dentsu Innovation Institute
Dentsu Inc.

Akira Amano

Researcher, Media Business Innovation Department
Dentsu Innovation Institue
Dentsu Inc.

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