Manga is one of the biggest and most impactful parts of modern popular culture across the planet. It has been shaping the social standards and trends for decades. The Japanese manga industry is also a huge contributor to the national GDP and has also given birth the alternate manga industries in other parts of the world. Along with anime, manga has become a major thing that has been spreading Japanese culture everywhere (Schodt, 2014). Manga is not only cartoons or comics: they have complex plots and distinct, often matured, storylines and plots, and also often delves deep into philosophical realms which are filled with profound discussions about life. Manga presents a unique side of Japanese culture that is upbeat, and yet crooning about different ways to view everything around us. While the market of manga and anime has grown steadily over the years, there still remain aspects which may be incorporated in the process, so that this industry can gain even further popularity and profits (Pantumsinchai, 2016). The current discussion looks into the Japanese manga industry in more details and uses the acquired knowledge to come up with a marketing plan that would be beneficial for the industry in terms of helping it to regain its lost market.
The population in Japan is exposed to manga and anime at a very young age. Throughout their lives, manga plays an important role in every aspect. It is not an overstatement to say that manga has significant contributions towards developing the literacy during the early ages of the children in the country (Zanettin, 2017). During the times of the second World war, manga was also a vehicle of propaganda that spread diplomatic and political speeches and ideologies through its storylines. While the American comics and cartoon industry was spreading the country’s culture, the Japanese counterpart was also doing the same, albeit at the smaller scale. The Japanese counterpart of the graphic novels varies significantly compared to the American style of the genre. The plots and story plots are much more complex and encompasses more topics and issues (Matsui, Suzuki & Washida, (2014). It is not only limited to the audience of children and is also cheaper than the American superhero comics. The genre and storytelling style that was originated by Osamu Tezuka is one of the most commercially successful genres in the modern world and its cultural influence is also widespread as well as deep-rooted.
Currently there are about three thousand manga artists in japan and also institutions that offer courses and programs on how to draw and present manga in the proper Japanese traditional manner. Even then, these institutions are not attained too much by aspiring artists, who prefer to work as apprentices under professional manga artists (Berndt, 2014).
As a medium to spread knowledge, manga has been more successful in many ways, according to some experts. History has been made fun to learn using comics and cartoons and this has made sure that the children want to read the graphic novels. This has been an excellent way to ensure that the general people have a common and basic knowledge on the history of Japan (Koizumi, 2016). Manga has been the foremost thing to project the Japanese culture and way of life to the western world.
The international market
Even though manga has been a huge part of the Japanese culture and life, it only arrived in America in 2007. While prospects and expectations were high, the industry could not have a gleeful existence for too long. The last four years saw the industry barely limping on. Manga sales in the United States has dropped almost by 43%. The drop in the sales of manga has been hit much more than the domestic comics industry and this is a good indicator that the bad economy is not the only thing that is to be blamed for the downward trend (He, 2014). The industry, according to many, was inevitably heading for this slump because too many publishers were filling the market with too much junk products. With American shows coming up with their manga styled series, the Japanese industry took a further hit. The use of traditional media forms has made the industry unable to adapt to the new technologies, which only resulted in a hindrance for the sector to grow back to its former glory (Otmazgin & Suter, 2016).
Developing a customer base and retaining that is vital to the survival of any company within any industry. If there is no one to sell the manufactured products to, there is no reason for a company or organisation to even exist. To create a customer base, an audience has to be targeted in the very beginning. While the American market for anime and manga has been going through a downward trend, the rest of the world is still waiting to be explored. One of the best possible markets that can be explored by the publishers is the market of India. The country has a huge market for comics and manga and anime have experienced a huge increase in popularity in the recent past (Uehara, Washida & Matsui, 2014). This prospect can be implored as the country is developing on festivals solely dedicated to comics, anime and manga.
Even in the American market there is still a huge opportunity to explore the potentials. There are very few manga artists in the United States and this may help the manga publishers to invest further to train more artists so that indie projects and stand-alone spin-offs can be made more popular in the market. These will also be cheaper and hence more affordable for the customers (Kotabe et al., 2014). A growing popularity among the young readers is also a positive sign that may be beneficial as well. Further customer development can also be ensured through intense marketing and making sure customer exposure is at its best. More customers can be created by making collaborations with local libraries and urging them to stock manga along with American comics. The weekly and monthly issues could also be provided to the libraries, should the requirements be so.
Customer development is an important strategy that needs to be designed and executed by with impeccable and meticulous planning. The manga publishers are burdened with making the right decisions that would be attracting more customers and also make sure that they are retained. The customers base can be created perhaps in an easier manner by the manga publishers as the genre variety of manga comics are greater (Kotabe et al., 2014). There are many topics and genres that manga can dabble with: both for adults as well as children and teens. This ability to cater to the tastes, mindsets, entertainment and requirements of almost every age group can immensely help the manga publishers to be able to have a much greater audience than that of the American comics (Gandia & Brion, 2016).
After pinpointing the targeted audience, the publishers would then have to develop the market of manga. While there is already a market for the same, it is also a fact that the market is experiencing a downward trend in the recent times. This current market scenario has to changed and moulded into a shape that would be beneficial for the manga artists and publishers by using specified and integrated marketing strategies.
As already mentioned above, there are several markets across the world that can be explored by the publishers, despite the slump in the American market. The market of India is one of the markets that is waiting to be explored. There is a huge market for comics and the population of the country already offers a potential customer base. The country itself has a large number of characters that are developed by the Indian artists and publishers already. These Indian books and publishers also enjoy some degree of profits and financial success. Furthermore, with the rise in the popularity of events like Comic-Con and other such festivals that are about comics, manga or anime, the genre has received even further attention and gained momentum. Anime has been known for a while now in India and the children who grew up watching those, now form the biggest market for the popularity of manga and other Japanese pop-culture souvenirs (Brienza, 2014). This boom can be exploited by the manga publishers strategically to ensure that the customers are made more aware about the products and the bigger background. The ideologies and the history of the country could also be portrayed to the Indian customers.
SWOT: To explore the market conditions, a simple SWOT analysis could be performed, which would help to better understand the scenario and how may that be helpful to the manga industry.
- Strengths: The biggest strength of the Japanese manga industry is the fact that it enjoys widespread popularity across the globe. International markets always offer exciting opportunities and which the publishers already have knowledge about how to properly use that. Another strength of the Japanese industry is the open minded approach it takes while doing business (Madeley, 2015). Manga is not limited to only graphic novels, rather branches of other forms of media and entertainments are also incorporated within the sector. Video games are one of the most notable spin-offs that are used by the Japanese manga industry. India also has a good population that is well versed in video games. This side of the industry could also be pushed by the Japanese industries, so that an even bigger market share can be achieved. Millennials form the biggest market in the Indian context for video games and other related products and they have to be specifically targeted (Jaggi, 2014).
- Weakness: The industry is on a downward spiral and this would be creating the biggest hindrance for the sector to grow back. This slump must be given a huge boost and a proper amount of investment is the only thing that may be of any help.
- Opportunities: The market across the planet is still robust and has huge possibilities to be further dug into. With sub-divisions and sub-segments of the manga industry, the Japanese industry could well penetrate into the modern markets. Further success could be attained by developing technical apps that would make manga access even easier for the readers and they can use them on the go. Any form of technological advantages that could be used by the industry, should be used to its fullest.
- Threats: The biggest threat of the Japanese manga industry is not the other publishing houses. Rather it is perhaps the advent other entertainment media that has caused a marked shift in the habit of reading books. This is a serious issue that is being faced by almost every book form published. Fortunately, the comics and manga industries have somewhat been less affected by this factor as there is still a dedicated follower circle for these (Matsui, Suzuki & Washida, (2014). The American and Japanese markets are the two biggest markets for these. However, even they are experiencing downward slump in the recent years.
After an initial identification of the targeted audience and the potential markets, deciding on the product and developing the same is equally important. If the product that is being sold to the customers is not updated and developed regularly, it will most definitely lose its charm to the customers (Otmazgin & Suter, 2016). Hence, it has to be ensured that the product is constantly evolving and continuously catering to the changing requirements of the customers.
As mentioned earlier the manga industry could benefit hugely by incorporating more media into its business. The new markets could be introduced to video games and other subsidiary segments of the industry, which are sub-segments of the industry. The industry has a number of potential products which need to be used in an optimal and efficient manner. Developing the manga series along with developing the video games and anime sectors would prove to beneficial for the industry as a whole.
From the above discussion it is clear that, the manga industry is suffering across every country in the world where it is currently sold. However, potentials are also there and they need to be properly assessed and used to the benefits of the industry. The industry could be incorporating new strategies to introduce new products along with the manga and anime, to make sure that more customers are exposed to the commodities of the sector. The industry has huge potentials to explore new and exciting markets and every aspect needs to be properly assessed and analysed to make sure that the market would be beneficial for the revival of the industry
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