David Blecken
Nov 9, 2016

Tokyo 2020 optimism doesn't mean people will spend, study suggests

For sponsors, research by Edelman Japan into Japanese consumer sentiment is encouraging but also cautionary.

Tokyo 2020 optimism doesn't mean people will spend, study suggests

TOKYO - An Edelman Japan study of 700 respondents has found that 60 percent see staging the Tokyo 2020 games as a good thing for Japan, with 23 percent describing themselves as “very positive” about it.

Those in the senior age bracket are the most positive, which Edelman attributes in part to nostalgia for the 1964 Tokyo Olympics. Families with young children, and students, are the next most positive group, sensing that Japan is opening itself to the world, according to Edelman.

15 percent have a negative stance, while 25 percent do not show strong feelings either way.
The optimistic findings are in spite of apparent concern over cost overruns, allegations of bribery and controversy over logo plagiarism. The games are expected to cost well over an initial estimate of US$3.5 billion. At the same time, a Bank of Japan report released last December touted a possible $249 billion boost to the economy as a result of the event.

42 percent expect the Olympics to be good for Japan economically; 19 percent expect to feel the result of that economic impact themselves. More than a quarter see it as promoting “international friendship” and raising the country’s visibility in the world. A quarter also expect it to increase tourism.

For sponsors, the messages are mixed; 72 percent said they would feel favourable towards sponsors’ products, but just 20 percent said they would be likely to buy those products. A mere 9 percent said they would be likely to recommend sponsors’ products to friends and family.

As Campaign’s numerous interviews on the topic of Rio 2016 and Tokyo 2020 have suggested, sponsors have to do far more than just be present. The report highlights a strong expectation that sponsors contribute to the Olympic legacy (45 percent).

What does that mean? Ross Rowbury, president of Edelman Japan, said sponsors need to align their brand purpose with the defining legacies of the Olympics. These include bringing lasting change to the lives of Tokyo citizens and Japanese people in general, and to Japan as a global brand.

“Sponsors should look not only to the benefits of associating their brands with the Olympics, but also how they can contribute to the common effort and collaborate with the organisers and among themselves to contribute to the long term legacy of the games,” Rowbury said.

He went on to explain that being part of a problem-solving process “will allow sponsors to build a narrative that can encompass all the marketing and communication programmes they will develop to activate the Olympics for the benefit of their brand”.

Other expectations from survey respondents include launching campaigns (32 percent), offering promotions (28 percent), hosting events (25 percent) and offering tickets to attend the action (25 percent).

Rowbury said the ultimate aim for sponsors should be to build a strong relationship with consumers that will drive the business bottom line but also build advocacy and “have the consumers working for you”. “That is why a sponsor needs to play an active role in the consumer’s life beyond its products and services,” he said.

Campaign Japan

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