Japanese Consumer Views on Theme Parks: Key Insights and Takeaways
There are not many franchises bigger than Harry Potter. Since its original publication in 1997, the book has sold over 500m copies, been translated into over 80 languages, made into 8 Hollywood Blockbusters, inspired spin-off-series such as Fantastic Beasts, and given joy to millions of children and adults around the world. The next chapter of Harry Potter will be the opening of a new attraction in Tokyo, Japan. Officially called the Warner Bros. Studio Tour Tokyo – The Making of Harry Potter, the upcoming facility is modelled on the Warner Bros. Studio Tour in London and will open on the former site of the Toshimaen amusement park in Nerima on June 16 2023.
To mark this event, Rakuten Insight investigated Japanese consumers’ attitudes and behaviours towards theme parks. Rakuten Insight asked 1,000 consumers from their own proprietary panel in Japan about how often they go, who with, the time spent there, as well as the willingness to pay extra in these times of inflation.
Theme parks popular among young adults
When asked about the frequency of going to theme parks, 34% stated “more than once a year” across all age groups. In the UK, theme parks are often annual outings in the summer holiday sunshine. However, in Japan, it is essential not to overlook the younger generation, especially those in their 20s and potentially younger too. 3% of those in their 20s stated they go to theme parks 2-3 times a month, whilst 12% stated they go at least once every 2-3 months.
On the other end of the scale, the highest percentage of people who answered “I don’t go to theme parks” were in their 50s and 60s (50s: 26%, 60s: 26%). As anyone who has been to Tokyo Disneyland can testify, there are plenty of younger people buying plenty of merchandise!
A romantic destination and more
In the West, it would be fair to say that theme parks are very much family-focused, with parents providing a day’s entertainment for their children. Whilst the same is true in Japan, with 44% going with children/ grandchildren, there is an additional element which is more unique to Japan. For 69% of our Japanese participants, theme parks provide a romantic destination for a day out with a partner (spouse, lover etc.). With the fun, laughter and romance of the parade and fireworks at a theme park like Tokyo Disneyland, it is easy to understand why this is the case.
Theme Parks provide a great location for creating special shared memories. In third place was ‘same-sex friends’ (27%). It is also commonplace to see large groups of young men and young women enjoying a day out in theme parks in Japan.
The main attraction – socialising
When asked about the points they emphasised when choosing a theme park, again, this socialising benefit is highlighted. In the West, thrill-seeking or excitement may be a common emotional motivator; however, in Japan, socialising is the key emotional driver.
The most common answer was “Enjoying together with people going with you” (56%), followed by “Enjoying an extraordinary experience” (42%). To highlight the socialising benefit, the top overall answer, “Enjoyed by people who go with me,” was more than 15 points higher than “Enjoyed myself.”
Impact of Inflation
Inflation has impacted consumers in Japan as well as many markets around the world. The impact is also clear when it comes to expensive days out at Theme Parks. 58% responded that due to ticket price increases, their intention to visit had decreased.
The largest decrease in intention was from men in their 30s (72%), more than 10 points higher than the overall rate. The impact for men in their 20s was considerably less at 14%. This could potentially be explained by theme parks being a romantic destination and younger men being more willing to spend on a date!
Romance and short queues
Theme Parks providing a romantic day out can also go some way to explain the findings when looking at willingness to pay extra for fast-track tickets which results in less time queueing. Those willing to pay extra were mostly men in their 20s (26%). By gender and age group, 26% of men in their 20s answered that they would buy, 10 points higher than the total and 15 points higher than women in their 20s.
Women enjoy longer visits
As may be expected, when asked about the amount of time spent at theme parks, more than 70% (77%) answered that they spent “5 hours or more” or “7-9 hours or more”). An interesting finding was that the number of women who answered “more than 5 hours” was 15 points more than men (male: 69%, female: 85%), indicating that females tended to stay longer. Again, this is understandable in the context of groups of young women enjoying a day out together and staying longer than groups of young men.
A few key findings emerged from this study looking at behaviours and attitudes towards theme parks. Firstly, theme parks can attract far more regular visits by Japanese consumers. Secondly, theme parks can provide a romantic destination and not just a family day out. And finally, the socializing emotional driver should not be overlooked in Japan at the expense of focusing on thrill-seeking.
For the new Harry Potter attraction to be a success in Japan, it seems critical to consider the local culture and the local consumer. Simply expecting a similar consumer to London’s Harry Potter Studio Tour would be a mistake and overlook many marketing opportunities. Without considering local insight into consumer behaviour, some of that infamous Potter magic would be needed!
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