JMT Web News

February 13, 2015 01:59 PM

2014 Japanese Music Products Retail Market Survey

Japan Music Trades conducted an annual music products retail market survey sending a questionnaire to 147 music retailers throughout Japan. 101 retailers participated in the survey. Here’s an overview of 2014 music products retail business in Japan.


Dealers struggled after consumption tax hike

Last year, music retail business was more or less impacted by the consumption tax hike from 5% to 8% executed in April. According to a Government report, personal consumption increased 2.5% in 2013 over the previous year. The 2013 JMT survey reflected sizable sales growth during the year-end and new year business season. However, it was followed by a long sales slump, rise of commodity price caused by depreciation of Yen, blur export as many companies had moved production base overseas. The situation went worth by humble pay raise in the year.


The 2014 survey revealed slow-down sales reflecting minor recovery of general economy. 47% of the retailers reported their sales went down last year, while 38% replied sales increase. In average, both retailers groups ended the year with sales increased or decreased by 10%.


Looking into details, electronic organs, acoustic guitars and music teaching studio operation for adults achieved some growth. Yamaha refined Electone Stagea organ 10 years after the initial launch, and it contributed to the favorable sales increase of electronic organs. Acoustic guitars have been popular worldwide since a couple of years ago. Music retailers heavily recruited adults to their music teaching studios to offset diminishing child classes.


Sales of electric guitars, amps, effect pedals, printed music and music books, and music teaching studio operation for children declined. Lackluster sales of electric guitars are reflected on poor sales of amps and effect pedals. Absence of hit tunes except “Frozen” and “Yokai Watch”, a Japanese animation movie, resulted in significant sales decline of printed music.


Sales of violins, ukuleles, keyboard synthesizers, digital keyboards, keyboard synthesizers, digital devices, DTM/DAW-related products and recording equipment remained flat.


2014 Musical Instruments Fair Japan Gave the Industry Confidence

The event staged after 3 years from the last was a great success attracting more than 40,000 visitors. The retailers who visited the Fair highly evaluated it and reported that the industry regained confidence in the future. A host of new programs were well received in general. They cited effects of all-industry efforts and commented that it should be continued in the future.

Until 10 years ago, about 1,200 members were registered in Japan Musical Instruments Association. Today, the number has dramatically decreased to less than 800. The industry has shrunk. Acknowledging this, the dealers shared importance of market development efforts, increasing human resource, avoiding price-cutting, and enhancement of industry organization and its activities.


Prospects for 2015

15 retailers see 2015 business will grow. But 49 retailers foresee flat sales, and 35 retailers are worried about sales downturn. They are definitely more cautious than a year ago.

What makes many retailers negative is an unexpected level of depreciation of Yen. It directly affects imported products and materials. On the other hand, they expect postponed second consumption tax hike, economic stimulus packages by the Government and low energy price would help boost the Japanese economy.


What do music retailers think to improve business environment?

Not a few retailers are disappointed with price-cutting by Internet dealers and increasingly tough competition with them. Facing serious challenges by net dealers, they feel the manufacturers need to apply some rules for retail price setting.

They also indicated critical points of manufacturers’ sales and marketing strategies that they should control production level to protect their precious brands rather than rampant dumping sales. Suppliers are also requested to increase support programs for brick and mortar stores.

Retailers are increasingly feeling difficulties in getting appropriate profit margin from sales. Small dealers in remote areas voiced excessive sales pitch of influential retailers in large markets to maintain sales level by heavy discounting are much affecting their day-to-day operation.

In addition to all-industry market development efforts and enhanced exposure of music and music playing through media coverage to increase music makers, and support of professional musicians with venues and performing environments, dealers recognize that their stores should be further refined and integrated to attract customers with exciting shopping experience, product expertise and qualified sales staff all which differentiate from competitors.

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