Research shows that majority of population in Japan embraces health conscious and awareness dietary habits as one of the important factors promoting healthy living. Majority of the population within the country eat healthy food for the purposes of maintaining slimmer figures.
Their concerns could be linked to most of the developed countries which include maintenance of weight balance and preventing chronic illnesses such as diabetes, obesity and heart diseases. The rate of obesity cases have increased for the last couple of years to an estimation of 3% of the population.
This has made them to be more sensible and selective to what they eat. Most Japanese living in urban centers obtain their food from restaurants and some from fast-food centers. However, older generation living in rural areas depend mostly on traditional diet, they prefer local food to foreign dishes. The young generation on the other hand is adopting the western kind of diets at a very high rate, this present rich market for fast-food restaurants like Wendy International Inc. (Euromonitor International, 2009).
Consumer Patterns in the use of food products
Japanese consumers are mostly interested in sports nutrition products, these posses a challenge to food manufacturers who are required to have unique nutritional complex and thrilling profile for the purposes of attracting customers. According to research statistics an average Japanese diet is composed of 15% protein, the level of carbohydrates should be averagely 60% and 25% fat content (International Markets Bureau, 2010).
Japanese households focus on eating averagely three meals per day; they consider meal times as social occasions where each enjoys eating with others. Japanese enjoy eating fast-foods at lunch hours where they prefer eating outside home. Dinner is usually consumed back home with common foods like meat, rice and fish. Research has revealed that the influence of western culture is leading the population towards consumption of snacks.
The consumers have great sensitivity to pricing, this is evident from the level of sales experienced within the stores that indulge in selling of heavily discounted food comprising of those damaged in the process of packing and food that are out of season including those nearing expiry date.
This means that for success to be realized, Wendy has to be very reasonable with their pricing strategies. The following table from the National statistical offices shows the average consumer spending on food within the year 2006 and 2007 (International Markets Bureau, 2010).
Table 1: Consumer expenditure on food
|Bread and cereals||3,840.1||3,811.6|
|Fish and seafood||4,410.6||4,342.5|
|Milk, cheese and eggs||1,994.9||2,000.4|
|Oil and fats||1,877.3||1,899.0|
|Sugar and confectionery||3,627.6||3,653.0|
According to recent research, the influence of western style of eating has seen the decrease on the consumption of traditional food. This includes the consumption of seafood which was known to be popular within Japanese culture. Contrary, there is notable rise in the consumption of sugar, oils, fats and confectionaries this is due to the fact that these kinds of food appear cheaper.
Popularity of ready made meals is on the rise for the purposes of convenience that addresses the high number of singles within urban centers. This may present good market to Wendy’s fast food restaurants (Euromonitor International, 2009).
There is great difference in taste within Japan due to regional differences. Japan is divided into two regions namely; Kanto and Kansai. This is one of the crucial factors that need to be considered by Wendy since the natives from Kanto region seem to like western products and have less concern for food costs.
Kansai residents seem to more conscious on food costs and prefer mostly their traditional food to Western food. This calls for adjustment in taste profile for the purposes of serving the entire population. One of the major advantages to Wendy Inc is that Japanese are cultured to fast-paced lifestyle which makes fast-food restaurants a priority most of the times (Euromonitor International, 2009).
The shopping habits are reflected based on several factors some of which include; importance of product information, the enjoyment that goes along with shopping, pricing, the nature of advertisement used and people’s reactions.
The Japanese does their food shopping based on its quality health- wise, tastiness and freshness. Markets in Japan offer different kinds of food depending on customer’s choice and preference. Research shows that more than half of the population likes eating out at restaurants more so when in companionship with friends.
Most of the public meetings and social gatherings take place at social facilities creating reach market for fast food. The eating out population in Japan has increased due to some factors such as high number of single persons, society experiencing tremendous changes, for instance long working hours, fast-paced lifestyle and low food prices. Recent statistics have shown that in Japan great number of street vendors deal with food and beverage.
The frequency of those who eat out is on the increase despite the economic downturn. They consider that eating out improves one’s self identity since it presents an opportunity to meet people from diverse background. Majority of the consumers have adjusted their purchasing habits for the purposes of utilizing on the consumption of fast food and street vendors (Euromonitor International, 2009).
The statistics further shows that the majority of the population comprises young men with the elderly above sixty five years accounting for only 22%. Japan’s food related segments are divided into; traditional consumers, adventurous and uninvolved consumer segments. The research shows that the number of adventurous consumers is high as compared to the other two.
This is because most of them prefer healthy, organic food products and more sensitive to safety and taste. However, the consumers tend to be very skeptical on the nature of food safety. This is due to some recently identified food scandals such as contaminated mill from Snow Brand and contaminated Chinese vegetables including false branding of beef.
Food consumption and purchasing is high in the country and considered as one of the largest expenditure after housing. They are more focused on purchasing variety of fresh foods from the common outlets offering highest quality food products. Recent statistics shows that general and specialty stores sells averagely 39% of total food sales followed by supermarkets at 34% and lastly convenient stores at 13% of total food sales.
Within the last four years, records shows that the consumption rate of retail packed food increased by considerable percentage of 2.2% compared to that of fresh food which recorded small increase as low between 0.5-0.6%. These statistics presents Wendy Inc with good starting consumer base, which when utilized could result to good financial returns (Euromonitor International, 2009).
Product feature preferences
Wendy International Inc should focus on providing consumers with reliable and high degree services. They measure the quality of the product by the impacts it has on general health and value the cleanliness that goes with it. To motivate the population towards the products, hygiene factors which might result in consumer dissatisfaction must be observed closely.
The population considers variety and inexpensiveness of the product as one of the motivating factors. The research further indicates that according to Japanese culture, if the high-level need which in their case is self identity cannot be satisfied, then they consider lower-level needs which in their case are inexpensiveness, variety and quality health (Rothbart, 2009).
To satisfy the uninvolved consumers within Japan, majority being male bachelors, the focus should be on product design. This will provide them with food products that are easily used which most of them prefer. To reach the traditional consumers Wendy Inc should put a lot of emphasis on product labels since most of those in this category have poor purchasing habits.
More attention should be paid on individual consumer effects and the level of its impact on current and future trends. Personal interview and multiple regression approaches should be employed to test the research hypotheses and exploratory propositions. Lowering prices was found to have a positive effect on consumer buying habits and their frequency to food stores.
This clearly suggested that in order to experience increase in consumer spending and repeat visits, the restaurants should invest more in tools that promote the use of price-off. Wendy Inc image could be improved only by promotional tools that focus on consumer tastes.
Euromonitor International. (2009). Consumer Lifestyles in Japan. Web.
International Markets Bureau. (2010). Japanese Consumer Behavior, Attitudes And Perceptions towards Food Products. Market Analysis Journal Report, (3), 1-14.
Rothbart, C. (2009). The Sky‘s The Limit: Bringing Canada & Japan together through The love of Food. Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada: Ottawa.