I have been contributing in our company’s marketing efforts (as associate and occasionally acting brand man) for almost a year now and I would have to say that the experience has broadened my perspective somehow. And it was quite an experience being under one of the most brilliant marketing minds in the Philippines (the man used to be the top marketing man of a multinational industry in the Asian region). Being under the man made me watch my step and be quick on my feet when it comes to thinking of ways to engage a market or to develop and “grow” a brand. But I do acknowledge that I’ll be a sheep to his shark.
I have decided to focus on wider perspectives now in terms of my career. So as tribute to what I’ve learned from my boss in marketing, I write this thing.
I remember back in the day when access to anime (Yes as a kid, there was a time when I got hooked to Ruroni Kenshin and Initial D). TO get copies of the most coveted series, one has to resort to video tape piracy (VHS! Wahoo!) in the Metro’s version of Japan’s Akihabara – Greenhills. Well, it somehow still is the Mecca for geekstuff, but the Net has made it too easy for neo-otakus to get them via torrents and P2P.
Just six years after a local TV network (GMA 7) banged the drum and ushered in the consumption of anime, I believe that anime has somehow reverted back to being consumed by a distinct community. I remember that, back in the day, a lot of old school anime fans getting pissed off with that move as many felt that their privacy was invaded, with the older fans bursting veins as the new fans fell in love with Samuray Eks instead of Ruroni Kenshin.
As an extension of the craze brought about by GMA’s bold move (no young one gave a darn about Judy Ann Santos, anime girls had better bodies and bigger boobs) to make anime Philippine primetime showcasing different titles everyday during the 7 pm mark.
But just like any fad and craze, it was bound to satruate, flatline, and decline. Today, I believe it is back to its status as a hobby for a special community with the difference being there is ready access to it. Gone are the days of pirated video tapes. The Internet just does it all. This, I believe, has shifted the rigor of fans of the past (the almost foolhardy, and gung-ho drive to ain anime access to a trend of lazy passion. Any newbie can make a claim to fandom.
There are a lot of people who have made anime their business. There was a time when comic book stores have shifted to anime. Now, they’re back to their former “main” lines of business – comics. Niched shops have definitely lost their volume of sales and networks catering specifically to anime are definitely looking out to recreate the former buzz and glory of anime.
What is clear is that there are definitely market forces driving these things, even something as (what I now consider) “frivolous” as anime.
How to profit in such a niche involving otakus (geeks and dorks) has diversified over the years. For one, most younger otakus nowadays come from relatively afluent families meaning that their allowances give them the buying power.
Merchandise has proven to be quite sustainable as shown by certain niche shops. Events are quite a different thing depending on magnitude and scale. A thousand person event could easily profit a small group with about Php 60,000 to Php 80,000 from ticket sales and sponsorship but these are usually one-time bigtime and suited for clubs and organizations (There is no way one will profit if manpower is paid with such a small profit margin).
Network sponsored events (such as those by Hero TV and Animax) are usually are their marketing events organized to continue their exposure to their niche market. These are definitely part of their marketing budgets and profit (if ever they have one, mostly due to three-day events) will be a bonus as they do make their business through viewership, sponsorships, and advertising airtime. Say they are all out for “servicing” the anime community, they are not. Multinational companies sponsor summits and functions all free of charge for their clients. Correct me if I am wrong but I do believe there has been an average of Php 100 for tickets to these events over the years and they always ask for volunteer manpower. Business is always business.
My other boss has always told me that sales and marketing is all about discipline and awareness of where “the rubber meets the road.” Flair and style can land quick lucky results but for sustainability, it will always be discipline that counts. Sniffing out prospect clients’ buying motives takes quite some exposure and training to master. A combination of all does help. After all, at the end of the day, what matters is that the buyer leaves satisfied and the seller makes his profit. I have been in a good number of client calls (both in my previous and my current job) to be aware of this. In the end, it just seems like all the theories of economics from my Social Sciences 2 coming to life.
In any case, going back to the Philippine anime community as a market, I do observe that, it has exhausted many ways and means to be as lucrative as it was before. Anime itself has gone to a slump with many themes getting rehashed making offshoot products such as merchandise, bull. Even events have become so formulaic (though the idea of compressing three-day anime events to be a saturated one-day-one-time-bigtime event to service the community was an idea of a good friend of mine and myself). With those ideas gone to stale, there lies the challenge for the young ‘uns. Innovation, creativity, and getting one’s head out of his/her ass.
As Chris Rock says, “If it’s not new, it’s through.”