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What trends shape the Japanese digital space

Smartphone-UsersAs part of its Future in Focus series, comScore has decoded the key insights and trends that are shaping the Japanese online space. The ‘2013 Japan Digital Future in Focus’ highlights prevailing trends in web and mobile usage, online video, social media, digital advertising, and e-commerce.

It is interesting to note that Japan shows digital trends that vary diversely from its counterparts in the region, whether it is in context to the demographic of digital users, the trends in social media or online video consumption.

Insights into the Japanese digital scenario
Japan is the world’s fourth largest internet population. Japan’s online population now exceeds 73.6 million. Japan is also home to a 102 million strong mobile audience and a fast growing smartphone segment with a penetration rate above 34 per cent now.

Japanese online audience skews significantly older. Only 34 per cent of Japanese audience are under 35 and those aged 55+ make up twice the share of the global average. Males consistently show heavier average usage than women.

Online retail is big in the market. At 86 per cent, online retail reach in Japan is amongst the highest in the world. Comparison shopping draws a large audience where as the category is led by Amazon, Rakuten and Yahoo.

The entertainment and online video craze
The report shows that Japanese web users spend significantly more time on entertainment sites than other regional and global audiences. Average time spent on entertainment is almost double the APAC average. YouTube and Nico Video lead the category in terms of users and engagement. While YouTube leads the market in unique visitors, Nicovideo stands out in usage time.

Also interesting to note is that usage on Nicovideo is heavily skewed towards young males, aged under 35 years. This segment spends twice as much time on the site as females under 35.

While Multimedia has the highest reach in the category, the music reach in Japan is lower than global and APAC average.

PC-based video consumption in Japan increases flat growth in penetration of a saturated video market.

Google, Dwango, FC2 Rule 48 per cent share of all videos and there is very little to separate between the top three.

It is also noted that smartphone user’s TV/Video usage is increasing. Simultaneously, there is a decline in feature phone users.

The social conundrum
Social networking has considerable room for growth in Japan. Percentage of Japanese web users visiting a social networking site is much lower than the global or regional average. PC-Based visiting and usage on social networking sites has contracted over the past year.

There has been an increase in occasional mobile-based social networking but daily users decreased by 16 per cent.

At a platform level, Twitter and Facebook reach same level of unique users. Ameba Pigg has the highest engagement. However, Twitter demographic composition skews more towards the younger users. Facebook audience on the other hand, closely mirrors overall PC web population, which as pointed out, is on the older side.

The report also indicates that twitter is used heavily by males and females in the age bracket of 15-24 years. Facebook’s heaviest users are females, aged 35-44 years.

Mobile usage in Japan
At 102 million, Japan has a strong mobile audience that is larger than Germany and UK. Japan has the largest percentage of mobile users above 45 years of age. At 54 per cent, Japan is the highest among developed markets to house this demographic on mobile.

Not surprisingly, smartphone penetration in Japan accelerates to 34.8 per cent, which is an increase of more than 40 per cent from base over past year. This has allowed smartphone traffic to increase significantly in the market.

In terms of advertising, while there has been an increase amongst mobile users that recall seeing browser or app ads at least once a week on a mobile phone, there is a decline in users who have seen the ad at least once a month, once to three times in a month or at least once a day. The daily statistic has decreased by 13 per cent.

However, 36 per cent of mobile users in Japan have tapped on browser and app ads. While 55 per cent have skipped the ad, nine per cent couldn’t recall their reaction to mobile ads.

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