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Short Attention Span? Or Just American?

February 28, 2011 - 4 Comments

Sony’s US-specific informational video for its NEX camera runs 2:59. It’s set solely to music.  Sony’s video for the Japanese market runs 6:58 and has technical narration throughout.  That’s just the beginning of the differences.

Sayaka Katamura and Haruna Kawamoto did a nice informal analysis of the differences that Sony perceives when selling to the US and Japanese markets in a recent post on Ishmael’s Corner.  The takeaway? The importance of localizing storytelling.

Reading this article was particularly timely as my co-workers and I are planning an inclusion & diversity event for our Asia Pacific theatre.  We held a combination in-person and Telepresence video event in January that was well attended by our North American and European geographies.  Of course, that means that it was in the middle of the night for our APAC colleagues.  Ah, the joys of a global business.

Our team is arranging group viewings of the event video at our Bangalore and Chinese offices.  It’s clear (like the differences in those two Sony ads) that we can’t just drop the video in without some context. We’ve got team members engaging with the site leaders in India and China to determine the best way to leverage the US/Europe video.  Our goal is to kick off our 2011 inclusion and diversity initiatives in the region.  We’re particularly interested in getting local team members recruited to run events of their own!

I would love to hear how you’ve customized messages for different geographies.

Edited/amended after Feb 28 original post:

So, do Americans have short attention spans? Rest easy, US readers. As Sayaka and Mikuna discussed with me below in the comments section, one of the key differences in the videos is the demographic target.  I would also say there’s a difference in the desired viewer response. Sony seems to be targeting a very specific segment with their US-market video.  I would posit that the video is meant to make an emotional connection and trigger a peer-to-peer product discussion or a scanning of on-line reviews.  The Japanese-market video is for a wider age range and is packed with more information so the viewers can actually use it for decision making.

Did it work? Well, I made it 90 seconds into Sony’s U.S. tailored video.  Then, I made a note to talk to my photography-crazy coworker about the camera model.

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  1. Sorry to jump into the discussion.. you made a good point. In Japan, 20-30 year olds especially who are living in an urban area tend to live on their own, and I think this will change the decision making patterns. In fact, when making purchasing decisions, many friends of mine in the twenties look at comments/reviews on the web instead of discussing with their family.

    • Hi Kawamoto-san,

      Delighted to have you jump in. Thanks for the comment. I think it will be very interesting to see if or when online reviews are combined together across different countries. Esp when auto translations get better.

  2. Thanks for commenting on our work

    In fact, there was another analysis that might have been included but wasn’t.

    The Japanese clip seems to target consumers of a wide age range, using family-related symbols. On the other hand, there is a certain target age set in the US clip, probably people in their late teens, 20s and 30s.

    I believe that in Asian culture family is more or less the decisive factor, especially when making decisions about buying costly products. Thus, promotional activities in the region should probably include a wide range of ages, typically found within the family, while setting some specific target. However, this is not the case in Western culture; the influence of peer opinions and feedback on decision making is more common in that culture, and usually peers belong to the same or similar age group. For this reason, commercial activities can focus more on the targeted audience since a wide age range doesn’t come into play. (please note this is just simply from my observation)

    • Hi Kitamura-san,

      Honored to have you comment! You have an interesting point around family-based purchasing decisions in Asia and peer-based purchasing decisions in the West.

      Here in the US, most 20-30 year olds are living on their own and not necessarily physically near their parents.

      I understand that Japan may be evolving away from multigenerational households(also, just my personal observations. Please correct my perceptions!) I wonder if that will change the decision making patterns over time.