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Are more adult nappies (diapers) sold than baby ones in Japan? Sarah Parsons on BBC World News.

MD Sarah Parsons recently contributed with research (and a brief appearance) on a segment on the More or Less Programme from the BBC World Service looking at the claim that more disposable adult nappies (diapers) are sold than baby ones in Japan. This was an excellent opportunity for Sarah to to do some more research on the links between demographic changes and Japan's economy that she includes in her university lectures and corporate briefings and also to share her knowledge of East Asian business relating to nappies too as well! Although the stats cited in the programme show a huge difference between adult and baby nappies produced in Japan, they don't tell us about underlying elements such as: domestic versus international sales (Japanese companies have a huge market share in Asia) consumer behaviour (shifts towards convenience in Japan, do babies need their nappies changing more than adults?) trends in disposable nappy etiquette (until the last 20 years, it was frowned upon in Japan due to the gender roles) and also changes in the female labour market discussed later in the programme (more women going into work means less time to wash traditional nappies). EWI have made references to this claim about more adult diapers being sold than baby ones in warm-up quizzes in our corporate training about Japan, so can now update that as we now know with almost 99% certainty there is no evidence that this claim is true-it was an unsubstantiated headline used to highlight the ageing population and low birth rate. However, it might someday be true that Japanese companies sell more adult disposable nappies than baby ones given the falling birth rate, changing attitudes towards the environmental impact (Japan is trailling one of the world's first recycled nappy factories!) and a refocus within the industry towards the lucrative silver market (Japanese nappy companies such as Unicharm are focussing their marketing in China on adult nappies.)


Who knew that nappy sales could be such an exciting topic!

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