The truth about working women: Tastes in beverages

Dec. 4, 2017
  • Viewpoints
  • Research

Hello again from the Career Woman Lab. The previous two installments of this series examined the seven clusters into which Japanese career women can be classified. Now it’s time to start applying that categorization.

When you’re feeling a bit thirsty and drop by the convenience store or supermarket to pick up something to drink, what do you usually buy? Green tea? Water? Coffee? Juice? In this installment we’ll examine what beverages each of the seven types of career women actually purchased over the past year. Working women differ considerably in their choice of beverages depending on which cluster they fall into.

First, the overall rankings. The following graph shows purchase rates for different beverages among all categories of Japanese career women during the one-year period November 2016-October 2017.

As it turns at, the most commonly purchased beverage among career women is neither green tea nor water but yogurt drinks, which I suspect are consumed more for health reasons than to quench the thirst. Those trusty staples green tea and milk tied in second place. These top three beverages are purchased by some 70% of career women. Soft drinks (excluding fizzy water and cola) place fourth. Although perceived as being more for men and children, they’re evidently popular with working women as well. Vegetable juice ranks fifth. It too is presumably consumed for health reasons.

Next let’s examine purchase patterns by category of career woman. Consumption of yogurt drinks and milk, two of the three most commonly consumed beverages, differs significantly from category to category.

Milk drinkers versus yogurt drink drinkers

Milk drinkers
The casual types seeking ordinary happiness & the sensible, work-centered professional types
→ Women in these two categories are not easily swayed by passing fads and have their feet firmly on the ground. It may be, then, that they drink milk out of longstanding habit.

Yogurt drink drinkers
The oddball types who enjoy their favorite things at their own pace, the gung-ho types who go all out both on and off the job & the trend-conscious showy types with a real life off line
→ With their keen awareness of the latest trends and penchant for what’s new, it makes sense that the gung-ho and showy types should be avid consumers of yogurt drinks, of which new varieties keep appearing all the time. As for the sorts of yogurt drinks they consume, favorites include the functional variety among gung-ho types, the standard yogurt drinks among showy types, and the five pack of mini-sized bottles among oddballs.

Drink both
Status-conscious trend followers who want everyone to like them & the humdrum types drifting through life
→ Trend followers and humdrum types display the most average, least skewed distribution when buying products in these three beverage categories.

Green tea drinkers versus water drinkers

The health-conscious gung-ho types prefer water to green tea
Green tea, a favorite drink in Japan that often serves as a thirst quencher during meals, ranks second overall. The one exception is among gung-ho types, a higher percentage of whom buy water. Gung-ho types work hard and play hard, and perhaps they take care to drink lots of water because they’re so physically active. The findings were similar for showy types. Since the showy types tend to frequent popular spots, perhaps that can be ascribed in part to the fact that fitness centers are all the rage these days.

Soft drink drinkers versus vegetable juice drinkers

The soft drink-loving oddball types vs. the health-conscious gung-ho & showy types
While soft drinks place high in the overall rankings, purchase rates vary considerably from cluster to cluster. Oddball types appear to drink an awful lot of soft drinks, with soda and ginger ale being among their favorites. Perhaps they sip on a soft drink as they enjoy doing what they love at home.

As for vegetable juice, here again the gung-ho and showy types show similar patterns. Both types work hard and play hard, so one thing they have in common is their lack of time. It may be that being so busy, they take an efficient approach to staying healthy by choosing their beverages wisely.

So who are the coffee drinkers?

Career women are all fond of café au lait! Showy types love black coffee too.
For the working person, coffee is a godsend whether you want to take five, really need to concentrate, or are just trying to stay awake. Purchase rates of café au lait are high among career women overall, while showy types are frequent black coffee drinkers. Despite their showiness they may be surprisingly stoic on the job.

Our brief survey has revealed that working women are by no means all the same: they differ considerably in their shopping habits depending on their individual character. The next installment will again draw on purchase data as we examine one treat every woman loves.

Mai Nishitani
Strategic Planner
Researcher, Career Woman Lab
Strategic Planner, Planning Division 1
Since joining Hakuhodo in 2012, Mai Nishitani has worked as a strategic planner in many fields ranging from consumables like alcoholic and nonalcoholic beverages, foods, and cosmetics to electrical appliances, ecommerce, and online services. Her favorite drink is the highball.

• Survey Outline
QPR survey by Macromill, Inc.
Period surveyed, nonalcoholic beverages category: November 2016-October 2017
Working women aged 20-49 without children were extracted from a nationwide panel of 30,000 and classified into 7 clusters defined by the Career Woman Lab.
NOTE: Purchase rate represents the purchase rate per 100 QPR survey respondents.

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