While it begins by pointing out Japan’s economic woes, Dentsu’s latest report puts a highlight on the products that are showing promise for a more prosperous future.
After conducting its new Internet Survey of Japanese customers, Dentsu Macromill Insight Inc. conceded that Japan’s fiscal growth is “stagnant.” But it pointed to the “…ongoing development in Japan of electric vehicles” along with 3D printers, wearable computer technology and several other initiatives as being rife with potential.
Some of these innovations have been included on Dentsu’s second recent research project, its 2015 Expected Hit Products. The aforementioned electric cars and 3D printers snagged the first and second spots, respectively, on the research firm’s anticipatory top 10 list. Meanwhile, wearable computing technology, such as smart watches and wearable cameras, came in at numbers 7 and 10, respectively.
Dentsu devoted more of its resources to 2014 Hit Products, a top 20 list of items that have been all the rage this year. That countdown was topped by Frozen, the blockbuster Walt Disney animated film that dominated Japan’s box office for weeks. Free voice call apps and robot cleaners, along with compact and hybrid cars, also made the list.
Here is a summary of the top 5 on that list:
Released locally as Anna to Yuki no Jou (Anna and the Snow Queen), this Disney megahit fared particularly well in Japan, topping the box office for an astounding sixteen weeks from March to late June. The Hollywood Reporter says the film became the third-highest-grossing movie in Japan history, trailing only behind Titanic and Spirited Away. Anime News Network, meanwhile, noted that a million copies of Frozen’s Blu-ray were sold in only its first three days of release.
2. Talking mascot characters
According to CNN, these “…cute, cuddly, and sometimes bizarre mascots… have been a ubiquitous presence in advertising in Japan for decades.” But this year, they seemed more popular than ever, thanks to Funassyi, a dancing pear mascot with a distinctive “…costume design (that) allows for rapid, energetic movements that he uses to jump up and down to excite and rile up his audience,” compared to his groggier, stiff peers.
3. Tokyo Skytree
Last year’s top product on Dentsu’s list still managed to snag the bronze position in the 2014 poll. That staying power can be chalked up to the millions of travellers who come to see this 634-meter tourist attraction.
4. Free voice call apps (such as LINE)
According to TechCrunch, LINE has “taken Japan by storm. That success has been attributed  to a new “…flat-rate voice calling service called LINE Call” that expanded upon the popularity of the already existing “feature in LINE that let users call each other free via the app.”
5. Yo-kai Watch (games, manga and toys)
Considering the fact that Yo-kai didn’t even reach Dentsu’s top 10 last year, this cross media product’s top five finish in 2014 is quite impressive. Siliconera says the game, manga and anime is being compared to the Pokemon franchise that was so ubiquitous throughout the 90’s. Yo-kai incorporates the monsters of traditional Japanese folklore with a modern coming-of-age story that has captivated swaths of children and parents, with Anime News Network noting that a film slated for Dec. 20 has already sold 721,422 advance tickets, prompting producers to already greenlight a sequel, and leaving market analysts to speculate whether or not Yo-kai will top their 2015 hit products lists (a likely outcome, given its rampant popularity).
For a full rundown of all things trendy according to Dentsu, you can check out their 2014 Hit Products list.