Mobile phone service providers image in Japan


Whose television adverts leaves the greatest impression? graph of japanese statisticsThis is a most interesting survey, given that there is currently being quite a shake-up in the mobile phone market, with SoftBank finally getting their act in gear and finally reversing their many year decline. To see how the market is changing, MyVoice conducted a survey into mobile phone service provider image. This is the seventh time this survey has been conducted, once a year since 2002.


Over the first five days of February 2008 15,391 members of the MyVoice internet community successfully completed a private internet-based questionnaire. 54% of the sample was female, 2% in their teens, 16% in their twenties, 37% in their thirties, 28% in their forties, and 17% in their fifties.

A white dog and a black guy are responsible for reversing SoftBank’s decline. I’ve heard people complain that there are racist undertones as the black guy is the offspring of a Japanese woman and dog, but I think that’s reading far too much into things. Here’s a blog translating one advert and here’s news of the dog releasing a photo book.

Note that today NTT DoCoMo have announced that they are joining au and SoftBank in offering free calls 24 hours per day between family members.

Research results

Q1: Who is your current mobile phone service provider? If you have more than one, choose the one you use the most. (Sample size=15,391)

au 29.2%
DoCoMo 42.1%
SoftBank 21.2%
Other 0.3%
Don’t have mobile phone 5.2%

au’s market share continues to grow, and SoftBank reverses shrinkage of its share.

Q2: Which provider’s television adverts leaves the greatest impression on you? (Sample size=15,391)

au 30.3%
DoCoMo 23.4%
SoftBank 41.9%
Other 3.4%

This is a complete reversal of trends – last year almost three in five prefered au’s adverts, and only one in eight SoftBank’s.

Q3: Which provider do you think is the most leading-edge? (Sample size=15,391)

au 32.2%
DoCoMo 26.9%
SoftBank 32.9%
Other 3.7%

This is a real surprise as techologically SoftBank are behind, and their adverts rarely make a fuss about their phones; it’s their pricing plans. This indicates that perhaps the hardware has become sophisticated enough, and it’s innovations in service that customers are looking for. As with in Q2, SoftBank reversed their slump mostly at the expense of au.

Q4: Which provider do you think is the most trustworthy? (Sample size=15,391)

au 29.7%
DoCoMo 55.1%
SoftBank 8.8%
Other 5.0%

This one hasn’t changed significantly since last year.

Q5: Which provider do you think is the most feature-rich? (Sample size=15,391)

au 40.9%
DoCoMo 40.5%
SoftBank 11.5%
Other 4.5%
No answer 1.0%

As mentioned in Q3, SoftBank is feature-poor yet seen as most leading-edge, reinforcing the notion that services are becoming more important that spec sheets. This and the next two questions are new for this year.

Q6: Which provider do you think has the best designs? (Sample size=15,391)

au 42.3%
DoCoMo 26.3%
SoftBank 24.7%
Other 4.8%
No answer 0.8%

Q7: Which provider did you use a year ago? (Sample size=15,391)

au 27.3%
DoCoMo 43.3%
SoftBank 20.1%
Other 1.1%
Don’t use a mobile phone 5.9%

Looking at the differences between Q7 and Q1, only 2.9% had switched from other companies to join DoCoMo, but for all the other companies at least 10% had switched to them within the last year.

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