Shopping Forecast 2022: Purpose buying & the effects of purpose ads

Sep. 30, 2022
  • News

13% have experienced “purpose buying,” of whom 52% practice “targeted buying,” deciding what to purchase before going shopping

Hakuhodo Institute of Shopper Insight (HISI), a think tank affiliated to Hakuhodo Inc., a leading integrated marketing and innovation company headquartered in Tokyo, has long conducted research on the structure and realities of shopping among sei-katsu-sha,* since its inception in 2003.

Having joined Shopper Marketing Initiative,** a strategic unit composed of nine Group companies including Hakuhodo Inc. in April 2022, HISI has just published Shopping Forecast 2022, which predicts and proposes emerging shopping trends, based on its own sei-katsu-sha surveys.

The theme selected for the 2022 report is “Brand purpose and shopping behavior.” “Purpose” has attracted much attention in recent years. We defined “purpose buying” as the experience of purchasing any product in the last 12 months because of the attitude of the brand or because the company is making a positive impact on the world and people’s lives, seeking to identify the impact of purpose buying on shopping behavior.

HISI’s findings on purpose buying point to the emergence of sei-katsu-sha who actively choose what to purchase, including through information gathering and targeted buying. It also makes recommendations for companies on how to encourage purpose buying among sei-katsu-sha.

Summary of Shopping Forecast 2022

1. 13% have experienced purpose buying, particularly those who are eco-conscious and active communicators
・13% of respondents say they have experienced purpose buying. By age group, the largest shares are observed among both males and females in their teens and 60s.
・Those who have experienced purpose buying typically enjoy going out and shopping, are highly eco-conscious and actively involved in environmental actions, and want to play the central role in their circle of friends by being the first to get and share new information.

2. Purpose buying means active product selection, distinct from “choiceless shopping”
In our study in 2018, HISI found an increase in shopping stress, or the inability to make appropriate decisions due to the flood of information, products and purchasing channels. To avoid this stress, a majority of sei-katsu-sha were moving toward “choiceless shopping.” Nevertheless, shopper behavior indicated that purpose-bought products were subject to active selection.
Impact of purpose-bought products on the purchase funnel
・Active information gathering
59% of respondents collect information on purpose-bought brands more actively than on other brands of interest.
・Targeted buying
52% decide what to buy before visiting the store (or e-commerce site).

3. Affinity with purpose ads boosts purchase amount for more than half of the brands
We defined “purpose-oriented shoppers” as those who are aware of, and feel an affinity with the purpose ad of a brand, and compared them with other clusters of shoppers to analyze any difference in brand buying using purchase data.
We selected nine brands in three categories: three brands from the beauty category, three brands from the food & beverage category, and three brands from the toiletries category.
A purchase rate higher by at least 5 percentage points was observed for four of the nine brands.
A purchase amount higher by at least 10 percent was observed for six of the nine brands.

4. Three recommendations to encourage purpose buying
・Shift of focus of product purchase selection criteria from functional and emotional values to affinity with purpose
The selection of products to purchase is now affected by a shift from functional and emotional values of the product to affinity with the purpose of the company or brand.
・Increased importance of corporate branding
As the abundance of goods makes differentiation through product branding increasingly difficult, shopper behavior is becoming more characterized by product selection in view of purpose-driven corporate branding.
・Build sustainable relationships between companies and sei-katsu-sha
The ties with brands created by affinity with their purpose are not temporary but durable. The development of such permanent points of contact with sei-katsu-sha helps increase revenues.

Survey outlines

HISI Survey on Brand Purpose and Shopping Behavior
Respondents: Males and females aged 15–69
Survey area: Nationwide
Method: Internet survey
Survey period: March 2022
Sample size: 13,311
Conducted by: M-CUBE, Inc.

HISI Survey on Purpose Ads by Product Category
Respondents: Males and females aged 15–69
Categories covered: Beauty, food & beverages, toiletries, fashion and automobiles (purpose ads of five brands presented for each category)
Survey area: Nationwide
Method: Internet survey
Survey period: March 2022
Sample size: 1,000 each for beauty (females), food & beverages (males and females) and toiletries (females), 500 each for fashion (males and females) and automobiles (males and females)
Conducted by: M-CUBE, Inc.
Purchase data: QPR™

Click here for more details on this research

* “Sei-katsu-sha” is a term Hakuhodo uses to describe people not simply as consumers, but as fully rounded individuals with their own lifestyles, aspirations and dreams.


** Shopper Marketing Initiative is a strategic unit that provides promotion and commerce solutions. It is composed of nine companies: Hakuhodo, Hakuhodo DY Media Partners, Hakuhodo DY Holdings, D.A.Consortium, Hakuhodo Product’s, Hakuhodo DY Outdoor, Cerebrix, Experience D and Backs Group.

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