infoPLANT recently released a survey, performed using their usual method of a menu option within the DoCoMo iMode service, to find out what people thought about beer, happoshu and third-sector beer. Note that this survey was self-selecting, but since it has nothing to do with mobile phones, there should not be too major a problem with the survey population this time. 7,668 people, 61.0% female, responded to the survey, conducted over one week at the end of February.
Beer almost always means lager in Japan, happoshu is a low-malt beer-like drink(can’t stand the stuff myself), and third-sector beer is wheat and malt free, and instead is made from pea and other vegetable proteins and the one time I drunk it it tasted suprisingly nice and smooth.
I think I have found one statistic I’ve been seeking for a long time – here we have 13.8% of men in their twenties reporting daily beer consumption. Looking at a table from my homeland of Scotland, we can see that in 1998 only 7% of males aged 25 to 34 drunk any alcohol daily. However, looking at those men who drink at least once a week, the Scots have a significantly higher figure, although remember that includes all alcohol types. Similarly, but even more markedly, a mere 3% of young Scotswomen drink any alcohol daily, whereas over three times as many, 10.1% of Japanese women in their twenties consume beer daily. These differences are repeated across all the age groups.
Contrasting the daily figures with the weekly ones, I think it is a fair conclusion to draw that whilst the Japanese may overall have a lower frequency of alcohol consumption than the Scots, there are a higher number of regular drinkers amongst the Japanese population.
Note that neither survey addresses the volume of consumption, but with the recommended maximum weekly intake of 21 units for men and 14 for women, two large half-litre cans for men or two small 330 ml cans for women of beer-like drinks will most likely put the daily drinkers over the safe limit, and that ignores any other alcohol the Japanese may be consuming. Taking the adult population of Japan to be about 103 million and taking 18.6% of that figure we get the tabloid headline figure above, which does make certain assumptions, of course, some that might make the figure lower and others that make it higher.
Q1: About how often do you drink beer, happoshu or third-sector beers? (Sample size=7,668)
Almost every day 18.6% 24.7% 14.7% Four or five days a week 5.9% 7.0% 5.2% Two or three days a week 13.9% 16.3% 12.4% One day a week 10.5% 11.6% 9.8% Two or three days a month 13.7% 13.0% 14.1% One day a month 5.8% 5.2% 6.2% Less than one day a month 14.1% 11.7% 15.7% Don’t drink any of these drinks 17.5% 10.5% 22.0%
Looking at the trends by age, for men 13.8% of those in their twenties drink beer daily, climbing to almost one in three (32.6%) of those in their forties before falling off slightly to 27.6% of those aged fifty and over. For women, the pattern differs; just over a quarter (25.5%) of those in their twenties do not drink beer, dropping down to just 7.6% of those over fifty. Most of these women who start drinking beer seem to adopt a once to thrice a week habit.
Q2: Recently, which have you had more of an opportunity to drink, beer, happoshu or third sector beer? (Sample size=6,325)
Beer 43.8% 47.9% 40.7% Happoshu 34.6% 31.0% 37.3% Third-sector beer 21.6% 21.1% 22.0%
Men showed only a slight preference for beer as they got older, but a third more women aged fifty or over prefered beer than the average figure, mostly in preference to happoshu.
Putting Q1 and Q2 together, we can build up a table of preferences for each kind of beer-like drink by frequency of drinking.
Beer Happoshu Third sector beer Almost daily
32.8% 40.6% 26.6% Four or five days a week
40.7% 37.1% 22.2% Two or three days a week
41.6% 37.0% 21.3% One day a week
45.0% 35.4% 19.6% Two or three days a month
49.8% 29.9% 20.3% One day a month
53.0% 31.6% 15.3% Less than one day a month
50.9% 28.5% 20.6%
It can be seen that frequent drinkers are less keen on proper beer, which perhaps indicates that they are price-sensitve, preferring the cheaper brews to feed their alcohol intake desires.
Q3: How do you go shopping for beer and beer-like drinks? (Sample size=6,325)
Always decide on brand before shopping Usually decide on brand before shopping Don’t often decide on brand before shopping Never decide on brand before shopping All 17.8% 41.1% 26.1% 15.0% Male
19.2% 41.3% 24.1% 15.4% Female
16.7% 41.0% 27.5% 14.8%
For both sexes, as people got older the more likely they were to definitely or usually decide on the brand to buy before going shopping.
Putting Q2 and Q3 together, we can build up a table of shopping patterns for each kind of beer-like drink by beer kind preference.
Always decide on brand before shopping Usually decide on brand before shopping Don’t often decide on brand before shopping Never decide on brand before shopping Beer
24.2% 40.9% 20.2% 14.7% Happoshu
14.0% 43.7% 29.9% 12.4% Third sector beer
10.9% 37.4% 31.8% 20.0%
Here we can see people usually know what kind of beer they want to buy, but for the beer-like drinks they are more likely to decide at the shop.