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Japanese Otaku Study Claims $3.7 Billion Market

A study by Nomura Research Institute has estimated that the combined “otaku” market in Japan is now worth ¥411 billion ($3.61bn) annually. The roughly defined market incl...
A study by Nomura Research Institute has estimated that the combined “otaku” market in Japan is now worth ¥411 billion ($3.61bn) annually. The roughly defined market includes consumables such as manga (comics), anime (animated features and shows) and video games, as well as other obsessive activities such as celebrity watching. According to the report, an estimated 1.72 million people in Japan are actively involved in one or more of these areas of interest, following a study involving 10,000 Japanese and twelve different subject categories. The largest single group of enthusiasts were manga fans, with 350,000 of those polled citing an interest in the subject, resulting in ¥83 billion ($729.2m) spent in 2004. Next was those entranced by celebrities at 280,000 and ¥61 billion ($535.9m), and travel lovers at 250,000 and ¥81 billion ($711.6m). PC enthusiasts and assemblers accounted for 190,000 and a ¥36 billion ($316.3m) market, with video games proving to be the fifth most popular category, with 160,000 expressing an interest, resulting in a market of ¥21 billion ($184.5m). Although the Japanese term “otaku” is commonly used without malice in the West to describe those interested either directly in Japanese pop culture or areas in which Japanese companies play a significant role, in Japan itself it is a more offensive term used to describe someone unreasonably obsessed with a particular hobby, subject or person. It is not clear whether the Nomura Research Institute used the word itself while conducting the survey. The Institute did, however, suggest that marketing creatives try harder to target otaku specifically, offering services and extra features, such as organized communities. The findings suggest that otaku expect to be treated differently from mainstream consumers, with their high level of support for specific markets rewarded with special promotions and upgrades.

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