2018.12.3 - FASHION ASPECT

Close analysis of consumers’ consumption behavior
A new purchasing style of the next generation, made visible from a mood of “letting go” of objects

Knowledge Development Room  

Asuka Kondo

It has been a while since consumers have been called “consumers whom do not buy objects”, so what is it exactly that consumers wish to “buy” and “let go of” now. Itochu fashion system co., ltd. has conducted a WEB questionnaire and visual questionnaire to each generation, to investigate into their present situation. What we found out from this was an increase in opportunities to face “letting go”, such as throwing away or selling, and that people are inclining towards a new means of buying. While times are surely shifting to “utilization” rather than “possession”, we will investigate into the directionality of future consumption.

■ A rise in awareness towards “letting go”, rather than “obtaining”

When we look back at consumer tendencies of the past 10 years, we feel a rise in awareness towards “getting rid of”, “do not possess”, rather than “buying” objects, starting with “decluttering” which became a boom due to a matured society, “minimalist” attitude of trying to minimalize one’s possessions becoming the center of talks, etc., etc. Especially in recent years, I think that the thing which brought about change to consumer’s buying behavior is flea-market applications. Those things which could only be sold at a giveaway price even at recycle shops, can be sold at one’s own discretion. It became popular because of the easiness of being able to exhibit items and settle through a single smartphone, thereby generalizing the buying and selling of items between individuals. The hurdle of “selling” personal possessions is lowering. When we conducted a quantitative research※1 to find out the truth in consumers’ mentality towards how to accept “objects” towards the future, the top 3 were “choose objects which can be used for as long as possible”, “actively throw-away unneeded/unused items”, “choose objects which will grow on me, even if it is a bit more expensive”. In addition to these, “try not to buy, as much as possible”, “always continue to declutter, clear-out past accumulations and minimalize”, “actively sell unneeded/unused items”, were also ranked high. The wave of carefully selecting that which is necessary to oneself and living an enriched life has surely anchored, and the possession of items which can not be utilized is seen as proof of not being able to swim with the tide.

■ What we found behind the psychology of “it’s such a waste, I can’t throw it away”

Contrary to such moods, from this time’s qualitative research※2 we found that there are also quite a many people whom feel “I want to let go, but can’t quite do so”. There, we asked “what is it that you want to let go of?”, along with their reason for hesitating to let go. As a result, we found the higher the generation the higher their awareness towards mottainai (wasteful), as in “when I think of how expensive it was, I just can’t let go”, “I might use it again”. A woman in her 60’s raised “furniture she brought as a bride” as an object she could not let go of. As we can see in her answer of “I know it is No.1 on the list of things children find difficult to deal with if left after I die, but when I think of my parents feels when they prepared it for me, I just can’t …”, there are cases in which disposal becomes all the more difficult the stronger the person’s emotions towards the object. A woman in her 40’s raised 20 pairs of heels as an object she wants to sell. Because they come to a total of a few hundred-thousand yen, she can’t help balancing the profits and losses, saying “when I think about the original price …”, making it difficult to take the first step. On the other hand, people’s attachment towards objects gets thinner as the generation gets younger, and the hurdle towards letting go gets lower. As can be seen in the comment of a man in his 20’s saying, “I’m going to throw away the long T-shirt of 〇〇 because I can’t sell it, but I think there are people whom could use my text books, so I will sell those”, their decision of what to throw away and what to sell is clear, and their pricing is realistic too. Since older generations have the tendency to want to sell at prices near the purchase price as much as possible, we see people’s senses on putting a value to objects, also differs depending upon generation.

Furthermore, we have also seen a generational difference in people’s awareness towards space. For example, while a woman in her 50’s says “we have several unused dryers at home, but we have the space to store it, so I leave it as is”, a woman in her 30’s says, “I was given a new dryer as a present, so I intend to throw away the old one. Leaving unused objects in the house gives me stress”, having a severe view on the dead-space created by unneeded objects. This tendency becomes more prominent in younger generations, due to being familiar with decluttering as a boom from a very young age and being made aware of sufficient amounts as an influence from the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami.

However, being aware and acting on it seem to be two different things, and although as a whole, we hear many comments of “there are things I want to throw away or sell, but the process is troublesome and not proceeding”. From experience, people know it is easy to buy and difficult to let go, and as a result, people have begun to carefully examine “do I really need this?” when making a purchase.

Is it because of careful examination that people have increasing ceased buying? Not exactly. Due to an environment not limiting to possession coming into place, it seems the method of shopping itself has changed. For now-a-days people in their 20’s, “buy objects with as much brand-ability, to make it easier to sell later” is one way of buying fashion. Brands are now not only a tool for self-expression, but also have a characteristic particular to today’s net society of being “get hits in a search”. In addition, one woman in her 30’s says, “I couldn’t decide whether to buy a much talked about game machine, I found out that if I get bored of it, I could sell it at a certain price, so I decided to buy it”. The ability to sell in the future is acting as a support in buying, and by being able to make an assumption of where to sell at what price, seems to loosen one’s wallet.

As can be seen here, in making a “purchase”, consumers are beginning to consider final ways to let go, such as, shall I sell this after certain amount of use?, or shall I throw it away?, or shall I continue using it? In other words, it can be said that this is the result of an increase in consumers whom wish to make “positive purchases”, considering whether one can fully utilize the purchased object in their own lifestyle.

■ How to fully utilize purchased objects

From the objects/things which were raised as “want to buy” in this time’s survey, we found 4 consumption patterns as an example of next generation positive purchases. Being able to use without possessing, starting with share/rental, and being able to buy after being fully convinced through trying-out, an environment making it easier for consumers to realize one’s ideal lifestyle is coming into place.

① Topic of talks/entertainment types
“Consumption of the latest topics” … things which were the topic of talks, highly entertaining, such as AI speakers, etc.

②Rental/share types
“Rarely used things”, “highly trendy things” … things which are difficult to store at home, things one wants to change according to mood, etc.

③Try-out types
“Want to buy things truly befitting myself, so gain an actual feel beforehand” … expensive things, things which come in direct contact with one’s skin, etc.

④Up-dating types
“Continue use by up-dating, rather than throw away” … things which will grow on me and will want to use for a long time, etc.

■ Demand for a cycle of “procurement → utilization → letting go”

We would like to introduce 2 case examples which are making suggestions coming under the above. The first comes under “③ Try-out type”. It is the cosmetics application, “HowTow”. “Don’t know which cosmetics fits me”, “even if I could try-out with samples, I find it difficult to get an actual feel of its effectiveness because it depends largely on that day’s condition”, there seem to be quite a many cosmetics-strays, but this is an application in which, if a person passes the application’s user-screening, they get to experience new cosmetics for 1 month, free of charge. By up-loading a review of that cosmetic on SNS, they get to keep the rest. Being able to fully try-out and see whether that cosmetic truly fits oneself is the attraction of this application, and the total number of registered people since its launching in March 2018 has reached 150,000 people (as of November 2018).

The second is “ALLYOURS”, an apparel brand operating under the concept of selling “specs”, coming under “④ Up-dating types”. Under the concept of “workwear for the internet era”, “up-date the clothing you have now”, one of the functions they offer is a service of making it possible to take good care of clothing and wear them for a long time, by adding water repellent finishing or deodorization processing to existing clothing, thereby increasing opportunities to wear. By maintaining the objects already in one’s possession, rather than buying new objects, it makes it possible to wear long-favored items. This is also a sustainable fashion style, a service which is truly in demand by consumers of today.

Hereafter, along with the diversification of consumer lifestyles, it is predicted that the viewpoint in making a careful selection of objects/things/services will undergo further fragmentation, but the “procurement → utilization → letting-go or maintenance” chain of consumption behavior of considering up to its final release, will surely increase. However, at the same time, there are many cases in which circulation is stagnating, as in “letting go is troublesome”, so we feel, approaches which solve this problem will be valid.

※1: Web questionnaire survey “Mood of consumers ‘19”, conducted in September 2018.
※2: Visual questionnaire “Mood of consumers ‘18-19”, conducted May 2018

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A service offered by “ALLYOURS”. By adding water repellent finishing, even cotton becomes water resistant and prevent soil.


The cosmetics application “HowTow”, is a new sensation service which allows users to use cosmetics they are interested in for free. One of the standards for screening in becoming a user is, people whom like transmitting information on beauty in SNS (300 or so followers).