Japan’s population of 126.5 million occupy a space that is 377,930 km2 in size. Roughly a quarter of the Japanese live centred in the capital of Tokyo. The uneven distribution of the population is the result of urbanisation. The population’s average age of 47.3 years is high, and the birth rate per woman of 1.4 children is low. The population’s extreme superannuation in combination with a low birth rate makes Japan shrink at a speed that is second to no other industrialised country. Still, Japan remains an important market for the toy sector.

Economy and consumerism in Japan

Japan has the world’s third-largest economy. Its gross domestic product totals US$ 4,884 billion and continues to rise. Despite its relatively small population, the Asian country generates 5.9 % of the global GDP. The per capita income in Japan at US$ 42,700 is comparable to European income levels. Trade equally plays a crucial role in Japan’s economy. Japan is the fifth-largest export and import nation. Its export volume totals US$ 683 billion, while US$ 625.7 billion worth of goods are imported. The particularly innovation-friendly Japanese pursue further economic expansion.

Japan is a country that boasts a high spending power, even during phases of economic decline. The Japanese and their increasing willingness to spend is tied to growing monthly wages. This is especially interesting to foreign providers and suppliers of consumer goods. For a long time, Japan was considered a homogenous society with similar consumer patterns. These days, however, even the Japanese are witnessing divergent buying habits. It is not so much the price, but the quality and usefulness that tend to be the decisive factor in making a buy. Still, price comparisons are popular because of the many discount stores and e-commerce opportunities. And even luxury items are highly coveted by the Japanese, even though the population’s price awareness has strongly increased. This is due to a significant disparity of income levels in Japan. Twice a year, the working population receives a salary bonus. This boosts retail sales figures for a short while in summer and in winter.

Toys in Japan

The Japanese toy market remains lucrative despite its ageing population. The demand for toys is on the rise. Even though Japan's birth date is low, the buying power per child is very high. Adults also consume plenty of toys. Overall, 20 % of the industry’s products target the 20+ age group. Online buying amongst Japanese continues to rise. Consequently, toy purchases recorded by the brick-and-mortar retail trade continue to decline.

Japanese licences highly popular

The most popular Japanese toy groups include educational toys and licenced toys featuring popular television and movie characters. A decline can be recorded for toys and puzzles as well as costumes and role playing. The future of the toy industry is virtual reality, amongst other things. This is apparent from the increase in sales for video games and AR/VR headsets in Japan. Not just trends, but safety aspects equally influence the buying decisions of the Japanese. The Japanese toy market can be conquered with inventive ideas, such as eco toys. Foreign markets are becoming increasingly relevant even for Japanese manufacturers.