From shopping and travel to music and movie streaming – Rakuten’s 100 million+ members in Japan have their pick of more than 70 different services. With so many diverse offerings come a wealth of valuable insights into consumer behavior – insights which Rakuten’s data experts regularly share with the public.
Last month, Rakuten held a press event on the latest trends across services ranging from Rakuten Mobile to Rakuten Music to Rakuten Books. Journalists were given a sneak peek into how Japan plans to beat the heat this summer, based on data from Rakuten Ichiba, Rakuten Travel and more. Below are a few highlights.
Domestic travel is taking off
To gather an overall picture of how people in Japan are looking to spend the upcoming summer, Rakuten quizzed some 10,000 members through its micro job platform Rakuten Super Mini Job about their holiday plans. Of those who had plans, many answered reading, binge-watching streaming services and outdoor activities such as camping and barbecues. However, one answer stood out above the rest: traveling Japan.
21% of respondents revealed that they were planning a trip within Japan’s borders. This is a noteworthy trend, considering the simultaneous rebound in outbound travel*1. The figure suggests that despite relaxed border restrictions, a good number of travelers are opting to explore their own backyard instead of forking out a small fortune for international flights.
In the thick of this domestic rebound is Rakuten Travel, one of Japan’s largest online travel agencies with a network of approximately 40,000 accommodation providers across the country. The platform’s reservation data revealed a remarkable 30% jump in trips scheduled for July and August compared to pre-pandemic 2019.
Amid this growth, Rakuten Travel’s data revealed that travelers are not only taking advantage of three-day weekends and summer holidays (a 20% rise over 2019), but increasingly targeting off-peak periods for their summer adventures (a 31% rise over 2019).
This summer’s top destination was revealed to be Japan’s northernmost prefecture of Hokkaido. An enticing choice for those seeking refuge from the scorching temperatures of the more southern regions – with Tokyo in second and the beach paradise of Okinawa in third.
Rakuten Travel’s data also revealed a significant surge in demand for “retreat” style trips. Around 60% more travelers opted for an island getaway compared with 2019, while reservations for luxury hotels and villas also saw remarkable growth, rising by around 60% and 100% respectively.
What are people buying to beat the heat?
Of the 10,000 users who participated in Rakuten’s survey, around 25% indicated their intention to boost their summer budgets for 2023.
Part of this increased expenditure is likely due to the resurgent demand for travel. In line with Rakuten Travel’s data, online shopping mall Rakuten Ichiba also observed a sharp spike in sales of suitcases (up 220% from 2022) and other travel essentials like neck pillows (up 60%).
As people in Japan gear up for summer events and festivals – some of which are being held for the first time since 2019 – Rakuten Ichiba shoppers are also driving demand for items like yukata gowns and swimwear. These were categories which grew around 80% and 40% respectively compared with 2022.
The hike in summer budgets could also be linked to recent inflationary trends and the rising costs of necessities such as electricity. As demand soars for relief from the sweltering heat, more and more shoppers are seeking out “cool” goods to combat rising air-conditioning bills.
Cooling towels and bed pads have seen a 40% rise in sales compared with 2022, and shoppers have expressed a heightened search interest in other cooling goods such as portable AC units, cool pet beds and cooling liners for hats.
As the mercury rises for another sweltering Japanese summer, we hope that Rakuten’s services can help you stay cool – be it through an island getaway or a summery yukata.
*1 Immigration services agency statistics: https://www.moj.go.jp/isa/policies/statistics/toukei_ichiran_nyukan.html (Japanese website)