Cheers & Kampai! New survey on alcohol consumption in Japan

Inflation and cost of living have increased in many countries around the world, and Japan is no exception. As such, Rakuten Insight investigated the impact on consumers’ drinking habits by asking 1,000 consumers from their own proprietary panel in Japan.

Impacts of 2022 price hikes

Despite the price hikes experienced in 2022, more than half of those asked said that the frequency and cost of drinking ‘will not change’. However, the impact of price increases can be noticed, with more than 30% of the respondents answering that the frequency of drinking with ‘friends/acquaintances’ (35%) and ‘workplace/work-related people’ (37%) at restaurants has decreased.

A shift away from traditional drinking habits

Traditionally in Japan, one thinks of the salaryman drinking with his business colleagues after work. However, this trend is changing and can be seen by ‘friends and acquaintances’ topping the list at 29% ahead of ‘Workplace/work related’ (21.8%) and ‘Family’ (19%).

The trend away from drinking with work colleagues can again be seen when looking into gender and age groups. The move away from work drinking is being led by the younger generation. Men and women in their 20s, answered ‘friends/acquaintances’ whilst men in their 30s and 40s still rated higher for ‘workplace/work-related’. Traditionally, older men in Japan were a key alcohol target group, however, this current generation of over 60s was lower than the total with only 11%. This could be due to increased health awareness and eagerness to avoid health complications brought about by consuming too much alcohol.

More frequent drinking at home

As can be seen in other markets & categories, attitudes & behaviours can bind individuals together into segments more than their generational labels. Among drinkers who drank alcohol within the past year, 22% of those stated that they drank ‘almost every day’ at home and 62% said that they drank at home at least once a week.

Socializing with friends becoming more popular

In another indication of the trend away from work drinking, approximately 70% of respondents said they would most like to participate in drinking parties with friends or acquaintances. Even the boss/seniors at work are less keen to embrace the long nights of business drinking, with about 40% of ‘boss / seniors’ not wanting to participate in drinking parties with people related to the workplace.

Reasons for participating or not in drinking parties

The top reason for wanting to participate in a drinking party is ‘to catch up on what’s going on’ with friends and acquaintances, (52%) and ‘because I want to deepen exchanges’ with people related to work (53%).

Another segment emerging was the ‘Friends only’ segment, who is not interested in socializing with anyone aside from friends and acquaintances. About 50% said they do not want to participate in drinking parties because they feel tired (50%). This was followed by ‘troublesome to go to the venue’ and ‘I want to prioritize my private time’ (both 22%), and ‘it is a waste of money’ (20%).

In conclusion, a few key findings emerged. Firstly, attitudes & behaviours can form tighter segments than generational label. Secondly, the trend away from workplace drinking continues across all generations – including the bosses! And finally, drinkers are going to drink regardless of any price hike!

Related articles:  2022 Impact of COVID-19 on consumer behaviour

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