The aging population in Japan has been increasing consistently over the past years. This trend has prompted manufacturers to rethink kinds of products they release to the market. Several companies have resorted to manufacturing products that can assist the aging generation in their day-to-day life operations. To achieve this, the companies have embraced technological advancement and are working on devices that can even read the human mind and execute what an individual is thinking of doing at any given point. This paper examines the changes that some Japanese companies have adopted in order to manufacture products that suit the ageing population. It also discusses ways through which Japanese manufacturers can employ market segmentation, targeting, as well as positioning so as to have competitive advantage over rival companies.
Key words: elderly, manufacturers, segmentation
The Business of Ageing
Japanese manufacturers have resorted to technology in order to change the products they offer to suit the country’s aging population. The country’s population is rapidly ageing with an ever-increasing number of individuals who live well above 100 years. The aging population is putting a demand for devices that would offer assistance and ease lives of the elderly. Manufacturers have thus resorted to innovative products such as personal assistance robots and electronic gadgets that are able to read the minds of users. Other products include new generation cars that are able to notify their users when they error while driving (The Squeeze, 2012).
For instance, Toto has come up with an intelligent toilet that has an inbuilt bidet as well as a variety of heat settings on the seat. The design enables the toilets to push the elderly in order to help them stand once they are through. The toilets also have medical sensors that are designed to measure blood sugar levels in the urine of its users and their blood pressure as well. The toilet, which has an internet device installed in it, will then email the data to the elderly person’s General Practitioner. To help the elderly get up without being assisted, Panasonic launched a robotic bed that is capable of transforming into a wheelchair. While one half of the mattress rises, the other lowers, and as a unit slides out of the bed, the elderly person is slipped into a standby motorized wheelchair (Collinson, 2010).
Since the elderly may find it difficult to look after real pets, some manufactures have devised a furry white baby seal robot known as Paro in order to solve this problem. It is able to respond to varied forms of petting by wagging its tail as well as opening and closing its eyes. Moreover, the robot is able to express emotions such as happiness, surprise, as well as anger. Among those with dementia, the technology has been proved handy according to reports that it stimulates responses among such individuals (Collinson, 2010).
Currently, several Japanese companies, the government, as well as the research institute are responding to the old age problem by creating consumer electronic devices that would suit the growing old generation. The devices would be able to read the minds of users and automatically respond to their wishes. They are advancing already existing versions of brain-machine interface technology. For instance, it will allow an elderly person to change a channel while watching television simply by thinking or sending a text message that is composed with a thought (The Squeeze, 2012).
In consumer behavior, segmentation, targeting, and positioning comprise a 3-stage process. First, it involves determining the kinds of consumers that exist in the market, followed by selecting the group of customers that a company would be best off serving. The final step of the process involves implementation of the already achieved segmentation. It allows a company to optimize its products or services for the chosen segment. In addition, a company would communicate this choice as their distinctive feature (Perner, n.d.). In Japanese market, a company may choose to manufacture products that would better the lives of the elderly population and consequently work on creating a competitive advantage.
In addition to delivering quality products, the ability of a company to understand the needs as well as buying behavior of its customers is likely to set it apart from its competitors. In order to stand on a solid position above competitors, a company’s marketing offer to its customers must be different from that of other firms while, at the same time, being realistic. Speed, carefulness, and convenience in delivery may comprise a line of differentiation that a company can adopt. Products such as automobiles can be differentiated from those of competitors by producing brands that are excellent in performance and have a unique style and design. Attributes such as consistency, reliability, durability or reparability are among brand qualities that a company can invest in to differentiate its product and gain a competitive advantage (Zainbooks, 2013).