Still the center of Asian youth, Japan continues to form the pop culture trends that influence the worldThe world's media will descend on Japan for the Soccer World Cup next summer, when it plays co-host with Korea. What they'll find there is the epicenter of Asia's youth, media, and fashion culture: the place and people who decide what's chic and what's hip for much of Asia.
Even trends from America and Europe are filtered through Japan, and its capital, Tokyo, first. Japanese brands like Nintendo, Sega, Sony, "Hello Kitty," "Pokemon," and "Purikura" are the brands of choice for Asian teens. And pop culture phenomena like Manga comics, dance crazes, video games, neo-photo booths, karaoke, TV soap operas, music, and fashion all originated in Japan.
The emergence of Japan as the first Asian culture to have a distinct modern middle class --and a resultant domestic youth market --was the starting point for its influence on the region.
The country's business community has also developed a strong marketing culture.
The ready availability and influence of media, like Japanese music and TV drama programming, also help to diffuse Japanese youth culture, providing Asian youth the means to see what's out there so they can keep up with new technologies and trends.
"In Asia, Japanese youth culture is reinforced by a bigger presence of brand knowledge and a wider media acceptance," according to McCann-Erickson, which has been running youth-marketing studies across Asia for 10 years.
On a more basic level, Korea and other Asian countries, including Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia and China, have modeled parts of their economies on Japan's developmental state and the institutions that appeared to have made Japan prosperous. Japan has successfully exported value-added finished goods to Asia and the rest of the world for years, so it's natural for...