Companies try to fire up bubble generation

by Asako Takaguchi

Kyodo

Hotels, publishers and retailers are trying to capitalize on the buying power of people in their 40s and 50s who experienced the go-go days of the 1980s bubble economy before it imploded in 1991.

In early August, the Grand Prince Hotel New Takanawa in Tokyo’s Minato Ward hosted a dance event that recalled the discotheque boom of those heady days, attracting some 2,000 men and women dressed aptly for the occasion.

Most of the participants were veterans of the bubble era.

“I used to dance at discos until midnight after work when I was young. I hope events of this kind will help Japan become energetic again,” said a 49-year-old employee from Fujisawa, Kanagawa Prefecture, wearing a miniskirt and high heels.

This was the second disco event hosted by the Grand Prince since it kicked off the idea last December. The tickets sold out despite prices that topped out at ¥20,000.

Other major hotels are jumping on the bandwagon, hoping the partygoers they attract will return as hotel guests.

In the publishing industry, Sekai Bunka Publishing Inc. will launch a monthly fashion magazine Oct. 7 called Gold, targeting women from 45 to 52 who enjoyed splashing out during those years of conspicuous consumption and have finished rearing their children.

Women in the magazine’s so-called gold generation lived through the most energetic and flashy era of Japanese history and are willing to dine at three-star restaurants, take luxury tours and indulge in foreign language studies, said Shinobu Uchiyama, its editor-in-chief.

“We would like to offer information that will help women shine — not as a wife or mother but as a woman,” Uchiyama said, adding that the magazine will offer articles on health, beauty, travel and hobbies to promote a high-quality lifestyle.

Consumers from the bubble generation are receiving keen attention from businesses now that personal consumption is gathering steam among those actually benefiting from Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s deflation-busting economic program, which is weakening the yen and driving up stocks.

Jewelry and luxury watches are selling well at department stores, while top-notch restaurants are luring more diners.

After years of job and wage cuts, Japan Inc. is eager to fuel the trend by encouraging the bubble generation to return to its free-spending ways.