The Japanese Karaoke Their Way Through the Pandemic

  • People aged 45 years and above were risk-takers who traveled over 8km to visit Karaoke bars and recreation venues, while Millennials seem to be risk-averse.
  • Shinjuku and Taito residents were the most active during the lockdown.

In mid-April, the government declared the COVID-19 crisis as a national emergency issuing advisory for businesses to close operations, and for people to self-isolate. As per the law, the government was not to enforce a complete closure, leaving some places to continue operations with social distancing measures within limited business hours. Currently, Japan has eased emergency controls. With this new development, people are hoping for their lives to return to ‘normalcy’ albeit with social distancing measures in place. 

To this effect, we have analyzed visitation patterns during the first two weeks of the ease at Supermarkets, Karaoke bars, recreational venues, and restaurants to see how consumer behavior has evolved which can help brands do better proximity marketing to their relevant audiences. Further, insights derived from location data can benefit officials and organizations to make effective data-driven decisions to combat the pandemic.

All data entering the Near platform is consensual and anonymized. We are data intelligence experts, not public health experts, therefore, the data is used to study consumer behavior in response to the current situation and has no relation to the infection rate.

Japan’s Karaoke culture lives on

Average Distance (km) traveled from the home location to a place category during the lockdown
  • People chose to shop in their neighborhood supermarket.
  • Residents of Tokyo traveled more than 8km on an average to visit Karaoke Bars and other recreational venues of their choice, and over 6km to dine at their preferred restaurant.

Millennials are risk-averse or balanced while other age groups are risk-takers

People are willing to visit their preferred Karaoke bar/restaurant, whereas, when shopping for essentials their decision to choose a particular brand is dependent on availability.

Age-wise analysis of visitation across place categories in Tokyo during the lockdown period
  • All place categories witnessed a higher visitation from people above the age of 45, followed by Gen Z aged between 18 and 25 years. Both age groups are willing to take the risk to visit their old haunts during the soft lockdown and have a higher probability to revert to their old purchase patterns. Georgia State in the USA experienced a similar trend after it reopened for business.
  • Millennials aged between 26 and 35 years seem to be the most cautious and risk-averse therefore avoiding crowded places such as restaurants. Older Millennials in the 36 to 45 years age group seem to have a balanced approach.

In the new normal world, consumers can be categorized into risk-takers, risk-averse and balanced consumers. Data shows that risk-takers are willing to visit crowded places or travel more distance, risk-averse people choose to limit stepping out, whereas balancers will step out only for essential shopping.

Recreational venues and Karaoke bar owners need to be vigilant

To understand the vulnerability of place categories, we have devised Density Index, a measurement indicating crowding at place categories during the busy hours.

Density Index of place categories in Tokyo during the lockdown period
  • During the busy hours, Karaoke bars despite the reduced operational hours, witnessed a higher Density Index of nearly 7, indicating high crowding at this place category making it vulnerable to becoming a hotbed for the spread of the infection.
  • Restaurants saw the lowest Density Index, indicating that these locations did not get too crowded.
  • Density Index at supermarkets was less than 4, which is at par with the Density Index of other global cities during the lockdown period. Hence, these locations are not a source of concern as of now.

Shinjuku and Taito were the busiest areas

  • A majority of the movement at place categories was seen in the Shinjuku ward with the influx of residents from the TAITO ward.
  • Kabukicho was the busiest area in Shinjuku and Asakusa in Taito saw higher movement.
  • In Shinjuku, Seijo Ishii was the top preferred supermarket, Manekineko 2nd Store was the most popular Karaoke bar and Ise tochō-ten was the restaurant of choice. These places had 3 times the number of visitors than the next top places – Santoku Supermarket, Manekineko 1st Store, and Narushisu.
  • Asakusabashi Bishoku Club Amanogawa, Karaokekan Asakusa Kokusai Street, and The Garden was the preferred restaurant, karaoke bar and supermarket in Taito.

Data showed continued people mobility across wards in Tokyo. To avoid a relapse in case numbers, these areas need to ensure continued implementation of social distancing rules.

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