May 4, 2011

What Exactly Happened in the Japanese MR Industry after Tohoku Earthquake?

Since the massive earthquake struck Japan on March 11, 2011, we have been asked by many of our clients about the situation in Japan market. What are the issues when running research projects in Japan now? How has the response rate changed after the disaster? How would the whole situation affect Japanese consumers in a long run? Regardless of those concerns, we'd say that things are settled enough to run surveys in Japan and we don't see any serious problem with our currently running Japan projects so far.

What exactly happened in the Japanese Marketing Research industry after the Tohoku earthquake?
After the tragedy occurred on March 11th, JMRA (Japan Marketing Research Association) and the registered marketing research firms in Japan have decided to put all projects on hold in respect to the affected area and the victims. Meanwhile we got hold of how and exactly where this disaster affected our panelists.

On March 15th, RPA re-started sending survey invites to our Japanese panel, but we decided to exclude the 7 major damaged prefectures, Aomori, Iwate, Miyagi, Yamagata, Fukushima, and Ibaraki. This was at the same time in accordance with the official determination of JMRA.

With regards to the current situation, since April 8th, we have re-started sampling in those 7 prefectures as well, however still excluding most damaged cities such as Kesennuma and Rikuzentakata city.

How are the recent response rates and are there any issues when running projects now in Japan?
Since we re-started sampling on March 15th, we’ve run projects in all B2C, B2B, Medical, and Ailment categories. The response rate of our panelists did drop compared to normal level at around 5% for a few weeks, especially in the Tohoku region. However, as of April 29th, the response has picked up to the pre-earthquake level and we don't see any critical issues at least in terms of online sampling in Japan.

How is it going to affect Japanese consumers in a long run?
Based on a recent research on Japanese consumer behavior after the disaster, it seems there has been no massive negative or positive change in terms of consumer spending level. On the other hand, people are concerned about the aftermath of the quake and Tsunami and the still unsolved problem of Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear plant accident. It is still unclear how the Japanese market would be affected by this disaster, and we would need to keep our eyes on the market.

As we are communicating with clients, there are many companies that would like to run surveys in Japan but don't know if it's "okay" to do so. As mentioned above, our panel response rate has been back to the normal level and we are running project in Japan without any negative feedback. However, we do understand each project is different in terms of project specs, quotas, fieldwork period and so forth. If you are considering running projects in Japan in the near future, please do not hesitate to consult with us. Our dedicated Japanese staffs are more than happy to support you and provide local market insight.

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