In today’s competitive environment, firms are increasingly challenged to expand their businesses by creating new consumption opportunities and practices that may not be compatible with the existing cultural values. But, how can firms involve consumers to take actions that may not be appropriate in their cultures?
This presentation draws on the case of ‘jibun e no gohoubi’ [self-reward] consumption practice in Japan to explore the above managerial question. Self-reward consumption is a big phenomenon today in Japan and the self-reward segment is one of the few growing segments in many of the stagnating industries such as jewelry, hotel, department stores, and beer etc.. However, the emergence of self-reward phenomenon in Japan is somewhat peculiar. The self-reward behavior does not fit the traditional Japanese values which have emphasized the interdependence with others and criticized the focus on the self as well as egocentricity.
This presentation examines the diffusion of the ‘jibun e no gohoubi’ consumption practice in Japan from its early establishment in the late 1980s to the present, drawing on various archival data such as newspaper articles, magazine articles, and print advertisements. It shows how firms can influence consumers to act against what is considered a cultural norm using marketing communications and by illustrating the significance of rhetoric in changing consumer attitudes.
The findings offer strategic insights into creating and sustaining new consumption practices in different cultures. The creation of consumption practices is often assumed to be complex; however, firms can actually influence its development by using rhetoric strategically.
Dr. Satoko Suzuki is Assistant Professor at Kyoto University’s Graduate School of Management. She teaches service marketing and her research focuses on the influence of marketing communications towards consumer behavior, cultural differences in consumer behavior, and globalization of Japanese service companies.