Purchasing stationery in Japan


Apparently there is quite a sub-culture of pen collectors in Japan, but that was not one of the issues investiged by MyVoice when they looked at stationery.


Over the first five days of April 2009 15,602 members of the MyVoice internet community completed a private online questionnaire. 54% of the sample were female, 2% in their teens, 15% in their twenties, 36% in their thirties, 29% in their forties, and 18% aged fifty or older.

It seems that in nearly every restaurant I go to that requires credit card signatures and has a woman on the till, said woman will have a cute pen decorated with Hello Kitty or the like, often complete with a dangly mascot. For my part I rarely buy stationery, with the last one being a stick of glue in a 100 yen shop last year. Most of my work pens are from work or freebies from conferences.

Oh, and I’ve never really got the appeal of four-colour pens; I grew out of them early into secondary school, yet half my office seems to have them and use them regularly.

There’s nothing terribly graphable in this survey, so instead lets have an advertisement for pens:

Research results

Q1: For work, study, private use, etc, which of the following stationery items do you normally use? (Sample size=15,602, multiple answer)

Ball pen 95.2%
Scissors 72.5%
Eraser 72.1%
Propelling pencil 72.1%
Calculator 69.6%
Sellotape 66.7%
Stapler 66.5%
Paste-like glue (stick glue, etc) 64.7%
Craft knife 57.1%
File 57.0%
Bulldog clip (binder clip) 56.1%
Correcting fluid, correcting tape 54.1%
Notepad 52.4%
Diary 51.2%
Highlighter 48.9%
Envelope 48.6%
Label 48.0%
Elastic band 47.8%
Packaging tape 43.0%
Felt pen, marker 35.1%
Pencil 34.6%
Pencil case 30.7%
Writing paper 21.3%
Glue (other types) 19.6%
Coloured pencil 13.8%
Calligraphy brush pen 12.8%
Desk pad, mat 11.7%
Fountain pen 5.3%
Other 5.1%
Nothing in particular 1.1%

Q2: How particular are you about the stationery items that you use? (Sample size=15,602)

If I don’t like the item I don’t want to use it 8.5%
If possible I want to use items I like 37.7%
If there’s a choice I’ll pick my favourite, but not really that bothered 33.5%
I use whatever’s available 20.4%

Q3: Where do you normally buy the stationery items that you use? (Sample size=15,602, multiple answer)

100 yen shop 54.1%
General variety store 35.8%
DIY centre 32.1%
Supermarket 25.9%
Large stationery shop 22.2%
Ordinary stationery shop 18.0%
Convenience store 13.9%
Department store stationery corner 11.7%
Catalogue, internet mail order 10.1%
Character goods shop 7.7%
Brand shop 1.5%
Other 4.2%
Don’t buy myself 8.0%
No answer 0.1%

Q4: When buying stationery items, which of the following are important? (Sample size=stationery buyers, multiple answer)

Price 76.8%
Functionality 66.8%
Ease of use 65.2%
Design 35.7%
Size 32.6%
Colour 27.2%
Shape 18.1%
Materials 15.9%
Durability 13.2%
Maker, brand name 8.5%
Suits the TPO (time, place and occasion) 8.1%
Rarity, oddness 6.2%
Wide selection 5.7%
Character 4.8%
Kind to the environment 4.2%
Cleanliness 2.8%
New product 1.6%
In vogue 1.4%
Other 0.9%
Nothing in particular 3.2%
No answer 0.2%

Q5: For what reasons do you buy new stationery or buy replacement stationery items? (Sample size=stationery buyers, multiple answer)

When the current one breaks 82.6%
When I lose the current one 44.8%
When the current one gets old 32.3%
When I need something I don’t have to hand 31.5%
When the current one becomes difficult to use 31.4%
When I see it in the shop and want to buy 28.6%
When I find something that is better than the current one 20.2%
When I get bored with my current one 9.5%
When I have a fresh start 7.1%
When I see, hear about others using one and want it myself 5.9%
When I find out what’s in vogue and want it myself 3.4%
When friends recommend it to me 2.9%
Other 1.4%
No answer 0.4%

Q6: From where do you obtain information regarding stationery items? (Sample size=15,602, multiple answer)

In-shop display 78.7%
Friends’ word of mouth information 9.4%
Television advertisement 7.7%
Magazine column 7.6%
Stationery mail order web site 5.8%
Other internet site 5.7%
Stationery manufacturer’s web site 5.4%
Catalogue 5.4%
Television program 4.8%
Newspaper column 4.3%
Newspaper advertisement 3.1%
Personal blog, web site 2.7%
Other 9.2%
No answer 0.7%
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