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Last Updated: Monday, 30 October 2006, 22:36 GMT
Japan's media targets older consumers
By Duncan Bartlett
BBC World Service, Japan

Japanese pensioners walk past a magazine poster on Tokyo subway
Japan's media firms are chasing older consumers too

Companies usually spend a lot of marketing dollars chasing young and fashionable customers, but there is plenty of money to be made from older consumers too.

That is especially true in Japan, where the average person over the age of 60 has $170,000 (90,000) in savings, far more than the younger generation.

In fact, they are among the wealthiest people in the world.

Japan's enthusiasm for new technology is causing a problem for the country's traditional media, such as newspapers and magazines.

Many young people now choose to get their news on the internet or via their mobile phones, and do not want to sit down and read a newspaper or watch a news bulletin.

Money to spare

We have TV shows that teach you about golf, calligraphy, computers and digital cameras - they're very popular
Yuuichi Funakoshi, NHK TV programme director

The Asahi Shimbun newspaper in Osaka is keen to keep its loyal older readers.

It recently launched a special supplement which has a larger typeface than the other pages and contains articles about pensions, health and sightseeing.

The newspaper's readers - who are mainly over 60 - have money to spare and time on their hands, so not surprisingly they are an attractive target for advertisers.

"There are lots of middle-aged and older readers of our newspaper now," says the Asahi Shimbun's Jiro Omura.

"They tend to read a lot, so we often take advertisements for books and other publications."

Mature audience

But it is not just the newspapers that are adapting to Japan's ageing population.

The country's leading television network, NHK, is also seeking ways to connect with its mature audience.

"NHK has a lot of older viewers and the population of elderly people is increasing in Japan," says programme director Yuuichi Funakoshi.

"We did extensive research into their tastes and found that they enjoy music programmes and programmes about health. But what they really like is programmes which teach them new hobbies," he says.

"We have TV shows that teach you about golf, calligraphy, computers and digital cameras. They're very popular."

New technology

In fact, the remarkable rise in the popularity of digital cameras is a good example of how the older generation has set a trend in Japan.

Older people bought them first and then they caught on among the young, before becoming popular all over the world.

Many Japanese firms are now focusing their efforts on harnessing new technology that will be attractive to Japan's older, and increasingly lucrative, consumers.

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