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Views from a Market Researcher – The Recipe for Success with Japan’s Integrated Resorts

integrated resorts IR Japan

by Dominic Carter


This article was originally published in the Japanese print edition of Amusement Japan.

Dominic Carter of The Carter Group, a market research and strategic consulting firm based in Tokyo, is a specialist in understanding consumers. Throughout his many years studying the Japanese market, he has identified four macrotrends pervading the country: “the changing world of work,” “women power,” “generational dynamics,” and “internationalization.” “These trends are affecting people and their daily lives,” Carter states, but there are many in Japan who recognize the need to apply these trends to “revitalize the economy.”

Dominic Carter, CEO of the Carter Group

The Japanese are warming up to Integrated Resorts (IR)

According to The Carter Group’s research, one in four Japanese consumers respond positively to the economic benefits presented by Integrated Resorts (IR) planned for development. That ratio increases to one in three in the Kansai region.

Across all generations, the economic benefits to regional society from increased tax revenues, followed by similar effects from increased tourism and employment during construction, were the biggest factors for current support of IR.  Noneconomic benefits included the desire to improve the quality of entertainment and leisure in Japan, as well as introduce a unique experiential facility found nowhere else in the country.

IRs as leisure destinations for Generation Reiwa

Data from the 2019 Carter Sentiment Study showing entertainment spending of 16 to 29 year-olds in Japan

The key to the long-term sustainability for any IR business is its ability to capture the hearts and minds of younger generations. People who come of age in the Reiwa generation are more conservative and have less fervor as consumers. Studies by The Carter Group reveal, however, that much like their counterparts across the globe, this young demographic is willing to spend on leisure activities. Going to theme parks, watching sports, and engaging in digital activities are some of the most popular leisure activities among the 20 and 30-year-olds.  On this point, an IR serves as the ultimate leisure destination.

“Scheduled to open six to eight years into the future, Japan’s IRs must far exceed any expectations to be considered ‘cutting-edge,’ Carter states.  “They will have to provide unique digital entertainment experiences that today’s consumers cannot yet envision.”

On-boarding women to support the idea of Integrated Resorts is a must

One trend that cannot be overlooked is the role of women—specifically, their spending power and financial decision-making. The Carter Group’s research shows that women are more aware of Japanese IR than men, making their support integral to development.  Other factors are culture and ‘global-ness,’ the feeling, according to Carter, that Japanese consumers can escape their everyday life and connect with an outside world.

Presently, few are receptive to the idea of developing IRs, many raising issues such as gambling addiction and money laundering as their primary concerns.  In light of these factors, Carter encourages transparency from operators and their partners to educate communities and drive their support.

You can find the original version in Japanese here.


Title Image by stokpic via Pixabay.com