Marketing Tips: Eco-Friendly Can Be the True Trend of the New Rich?


The rich-poor gap is seen even in trash

In 2019, a book became a big hit in Japan. The author is an unpopular comedian working as a trash collector on the side. He wrote it was easy to find out wealthy residential areas once he sees trash. He went on “Wealthy residential areas can be divided into three classes based on their trash.” Let’s say the three classes here: Silver, Gold, and Platinum.

According to him, it’s not the contents of trash that make them greatly different from other areas. Of course, there’re some differences in trash contents, but what features the wealthy residential areas is the amount of trash. It is generally smaller. Furthermore, in case of the Platinum areas, it is much smaller even than that of the Gold and Silver areas.

Rich people are humble, different from what we imagine

It’s completely different from what we generally imagine, isn’t it? This may be peculiar to Japan, but the public image of super-rich people is something more gorgeous and wasteful. I thought they would be spending money like water. Let me explain why I thought that way. Especially in Southeast Asian countries, I always feel the AC is too strong in most of the shopping malls. Once I asked “Why are we frozen here like fresh food on the supermarket shelves?” The answer was like “Keeping the inside ice-cold in extreme heat outside is a symbol of wealth.”

The rich may show off themselves in a more eco-friendly way

The small amount of trash in the wealthy residential areas. The way-too-strong AC in shopping malls. They may seem to conflict with each other, but both sound logical to me now. People can become rich by living humbly; wasteful spending can be a symbol of wealth by showing off financial power. However, the times and public opinion will no longer permit wasteful spending to put a burden on the environment. Consequently and hopefully, more and more rich people will show off their financial power for eco-friendly activities.

A wooden bench, simple but elegant design. It is placed by the huge glass window.

Eco-friendly design and structure deserve better evaluation

As I was writing before, we suffer the current drastic increase of sea freight. I know it’s fair from the viewpoint of environmental protection. We should accept the proportionate share of the environmental burden. In order to continue business in this time and age, I think we must make our transportation system more efficient. To be more specific, something like flat packaging, ready-to-assemble (RTA), etc.

Such structures are rare for high-end furniture at this moment. Our biggest concern is if wealthy customers accept that. It’s not only about extra work but also about RTA structures such as no-hidden screws and joints. Those RTA structures will make furniture look slightly cheap. In the future, rich people will show off their eco-friendliness to accept them, I hope. Of course, at the same time, we must continue to develop new products that don’t look like so RTA, though.

Photo Credit:

Shungo Ijima

He is travelling around the world. His passion is to explain Japan to the world, from the unique viewpoint accumulated through his career: overseas posting, MBA holder, former official of the Ministry of Finance.