Consumer Affairs Agency, Government Of Japan
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White Paper on Consumer Affairs 2014 [Summary]

Part 1 Today’s consumer issues and consumers’ behavior/attitude

Chapter 4 Trends in consumer issues

Section 3 Recent trends in consumer issues

Consultations on “negative option marketing of health food” peaked in the first half of FY 2013

Consultations on “negative option marketing of health food” sharply increased in FYs 2012 and 2013. On a monthly basis, the number of these consultations peaked in May 2013 and then gradually declined thereafter.

Figure 4-3-10 Consultations on “negative option marketing of health food” (mainly involving the elderly) in FY 2013 were double the number in the previous fiscal year

Figure 4-3-11 Consultations on “negative option marketing of health food” peaked in the first half of FY 2013

Damage from “theatrical solicitation” remains serious

The number of consultations on “theatrical solicitation” is still large, with an average more than 1,500 of them received in a month. The category accounting for the largest percentage is financial products by the type of product, women by gender, the elderly by age group, and “telemarketing sales” by sales/purchase method. A notable recent trend is the increase in the number of cases in which false identity is used for solicitation; for example, solicitors pretend to be representing public organizations or famous companies, such as major securities firms and leading manufacturers.

Figure 4-3-1 The number of consultations on “theatrical solicitation” is still large, especially for financial products

Figure 4-3-2 The elderly and women are more likely to receive telephone calls for “theatrical solicitation”

College students having just turned 20 or looking for jobs are targeted in some consumer problems

College students are sometimes involved in consumer problems. A marked increase was observed in FY 2013 in the number of consultations on “investment DVDs” targeting college students who have just turned 20.

In some other cases, students looking for jobs are aggressively solicited to self-development or other seminars claimed to be helpful for successful job hunting.

Figure 4-3-12 Consultations on “investment DVDs” for college students soared in FY 2013

Increase in problems is expected regarding fraudulent investment solicitation in connection with the upcoming Tokyo Olympics

In fraudulent investment solicitation using tactics such as “theatrical solicitation,” timely topics for the social situation come into fashion, including those widely covered in news reports.

Since Tokyo’s nomination as the host city for the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games in September 2013, problems with associated fraudulent investment solicitation have been increasing, with 168 consultations received by local consumer affairs centers since September 2013. This trend should be carefully monitored because similar problems are likely to grow.

Figure 4-3-14 Increase in problems is expected in connection with the Tokyo Olympics

Consultations on the consumption tax hike increased

After the government decided to raise the consumption tax in April 2014, consumer affairs consultations on the consumption tax began to increase gradually in the second half of FY 2013. Then the monthly number reached 2,070 in March 2014, just before the tax hike, and climbed further to 2,313 in April, immediately after the tax hike.

The breakdown of consultations by the type of product shows that many consumers consulted about, aside from the consumption tax hike in general, services incurring monthly payments (e.g., “rented apartments,” “monthly parking lots”) in March, just before the tax hike. In April, when the tax was raised, the number of consultations on food (e.g., “food services,” “foodstuffs in general,” “box meals”) indicated notable growth.

Figure 4-3-15 Consultations on the consumption tax soared just before and after the consumption tax hike

Figure 4-3-16 Top products/services on the list of consultation issues changed after the consumption tax was raised

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