An IP business model for the sharing generation which uses time as its main value standard

We are experiencing a rise in awareness regarding environmental issues, a change in our way of understanding value itself due to the recent economic crisis and earthquakes, and technology innovation like the diffusion of social media and smartphones. When we take into consideration the future of the entertainment industry’s business models,
it seems to become important that we capture the change of people’s conscious and behavior in view of increase of time value, our change of attitude towards materials, services and contents

■ A new way of acquiring leisure by using time as a currency

There are two sides to this issue. Placing value on time helps reduce the hours we dedicate to employing services and material possessions, and helps one value the situations where time is used to do other meaningful activities. On the other hand, it also adds value to the time spent creatively employing one’s hours into meaningful tasks. (Reference: “Jikan Shihonshugi no Tourai” by Masahiro Matsuoka) Entertainment falls into the second category of creative time value, but when dealing with products and services and their relation to the customer, the first category of economic time value also gains importance.
For example, in the medium of manga comic books, between thick weekly magazines and smartphone apps the latter option is not restricted by time and place, and so its economic time value is very high. In fact, at the end of last year we conducted the “Fields Yoka Survey”, an online survey which spanned a wide group of 10,000 people from primary school students to 64-year olds and asked them what were the manga magazines or digital services they had most read during the previous year, and the results were very surprising. The top option for most of them was the weekly magazine “Shonen Jump”, but the 2nd option, “comico”, and the 3rd one too, “LINE Manga”, were both digital manga services (smartphone apps). We also asked them “has the arrival of smartphones made you become more aware of the importance of your time”, and gave them a 5-tiered answer system. When looking at the results, we see that among people who give a lot of importance to their social status (the 33% above high-schoolers), 46% of them chose “I’m addicted to them” or “I’m kind of addicted to them”, supporting the claim that the stronger the desire for social status is, the more one becomes sensitive to time by smartphones. (Refer to diagram A)

Leisure time comes in many sizes, such as various small breaks over a long period of time, or a long stretch of constant free time. Since the release of smartphones people have been freed from the constraints of time and place, and this has allowed for many business opportunities regarding how to offer these people new leisure activities in various combinations
of time and place. The key was to ask the question: within these various combinations, what would people desire? According to James McQuivey, author of “Digital Disruption”, human desires can be categorized into 4 general types: “comfort”, “variety”, “connectedness” and
“uniqueness”. He adds that especially now since we’ve entered the digital age, it is becoming more important to satisfy many kinds of desire in these 4 types more easily. And of course, people’s desires are not necessarily rational but emotional, and the priority of the desire also changes according to the situation.
We used our research data extracted from the “Fields Yoka Survey” to see what relationship we could find between this 4-type model of desire and people’s answers given about their leisurely activities. We saw that compared to the past, people are now spending more time and money on some leisures, and within these activities we see day to day contents (smartphone and cell phone games, sharing of videos, video on demand, etc) which provide comfort (they can enjoy these anywhere they go, it’s comfortable, cheap, safe, secure, etc), and diversity (it is easier to compare, and offers more variation). On the other hand, we see non-ordinary activities (concerts, stage shows, etc) which offer uniqueness (there is no substitute for them, you can grow as a person by attending them, etc) and connectedness (thanks to the sharing of memes, communication,
empathizing with management companies, etc). This means leisure activities are bipolarized regarding the relationship of the activity types and the desires to have meet. On the contrary, many people decrease their consumption of time and money toward the media and leisure activities that doesn’t meet each desire relatively in comparison with one year ago. The kinds of free time desired by people seem to change depending on their relationship to space and time.
Basing ourselves on the results of this analysis, in diagram B we have attempted to define the specific methods for acquiring new forms of leisure which emerge from a 4-quadrant definition. The fine line between one’s workplace and one’s home which comes from using smartphones is now eroding the limits between private and public space-time causing “quick leisure time”. The wholly relaxing hours spent by people who come back home for a rest after work, the so-called “slow leisure time”. The small moments of leisure spent while commuting, waiting or taking a small break outside, the so-called “crafty leisure time”. Holidays, days spent going out with friends and family to enjoy oneself, the so-called “total leisure time”. We can divide leisure into these 4 quadrants.

■ The rise of sharing economy, from consumer to prosumer

As many of you will know, recently much has been said in the mass media about Uber and Airbnb, the pioneers of sharing economy. What exactly is the difference between these and our current economic model? In our modern past model corporations carry all sorts of resources such as people, objects, money or information, and strengthen their value chains in order to expand their profits. The corporations which strongly integrate a vertical merger then lead the market. However, now the spread of the Internet, and especially social media and smartphones, has given an opportunity, as seen to the right of our chart, which allows common people to exchange information of non-working resources (people, spaces, objects and machines which are not working for some periods of time) with each other, share information online with each other, and even construct structures which guarantee a link of trust between themselves. As a result of all this, now many products and services are able to be used for a very low cost. We are no longer in an age where making a good product assures its sale. In fact, the main reason certain corporations thrive in the market is due to the strength of their online networking structure. Due to the reduced cost of transactions and user value, corporations who evolved on the old economic model of the past are now in a state of threat.
This is due to the massive change which has occurred in people’s stances towards the way they approach entertainment content. The spread of social media and free tools which facilitate production and processing of content is lowering the threshold of creative activities and the share of them. People can produce and process content and then share it with others, and have now realized how much fun it can be to get other people’s reactions. Their role is no longer one of a mere consumer of products. Due to this change, these people are now called “prosumers”. Even here at the “Fields Yoka Survey”, in the last year we have found that if we take the ratio of people who pursue creative experiences of all kinds (here we include 16 such creative outlets, like tweets, blogs, photograph treatment, illustrations, videos, novels, performances and more), especially people in the layer of society who “wish to become active in the world” (about 30% of all Japanese citizens who are past high school), and compare them to those people who don’t pursue such activities, they are 10 points higher, that is to say, we get a result of 39% percent. We then learnt that among this layer of society which “wishes to become active in the world”, about 60% of the ones who engage in creativity actually make their creations public to the world, and a 20 or 30% of this last group have a fixed fan base, their work is exhibited online, and even manage to make some money from it.

■ A close analysis of IP businesses which have emerged from the changes in our economic model and our concept of time value

Entertainment corporations who incorporate IP businesses such as characters tend to have a different kind of structure and strength, and can expand the IP to areas beyond the media they usually control (publishing, TV, movies, games, etc), in order to sell more and increase their profits. This kind of model is on the increase. However, a lot of IPs and creations don’t manage to make a profit so easily. Why could that be? Of course one side of it is how interesting and charming the creative item itself actually is, but there are also a few very important business-related points to consider. One of them is that it is difficult to consistently present your IP (content) to the world as if it were one single idea, since it will be experienced through a variety of media due to the many differences in philosophy and regulations within each media corporations, as well as the differences in their company histories. The second issue is that due to the differences in their primary client bases arising from the media itself, even if an IP expands towards a variety of media, it becomes a problem for the customers to accept in their hearts this cycle of value expansion for an IP. The third issue is the arrival of smartphones. Up until a few years ago, paper manga comics, specialized gaming consoles and animation shown on TV screens all belonged to different types of media worlds. But since the apparition of digital formats and smartphones, all of these contents are now viewed on a single smartphone platform. And since most of the big, legendary corporations only grasped the know-how of the past, they probably are not being able to adequately transition to the smartphone age.
If, in relation to this, we divided human desire into 4 quadrants as shown on diagram C, all of a sudden the experiential value of an IP can be given as a business model which cycles through time and space. This model states that within the daily life scenes of every individual, an existing value for the company’s IP (the company’s policies regarding the experience itself, etc) serves as the foundation for that company’s platform for control, and it cycles round the hearts and minds of many individuals. It differs from the traditional cross-media expansion model, since an IP business is not the IP itself (the content) but instead the “experience” which is transferred through their platform working with the cloud as a fundamentally existing value. This doesn’t mean cycling the IP as a media or a format, but implies cycling it through the time-space of each individual based on their differing desires. Even in the creation of content itself, this way of thinking doesn’t imply expanding into different media formats once the content has been a success on a specific medium, but instead to expand the IP plan into the 4 quadrants of desire and to allow them to operate together. By doing this, an IP based on one’s corporate philosophy will offer an instantaneous experiential value, and this allows it to grow inside the heart of the daily space-time and lifestyle of each “individual customer”.
Furthermore, if we consider the concept of sharing economy which we touched upon a while ago, and use it to build our business structure, many benefits can be acquired for one’s IP creation and general growth. From the perspective of IP creation, we must consider the change towards a lower cost due to an application of non-operative assets, and since the prosumers take a part in planning the IP’s collaborative force increases, which allows for the perfect matching between creators who respond to the IP itself. From the perspective of IP growth, the push notifications from smartphone apps and the recommendations creates more opportunities for users to come into contact with the content. Now users can freely acquire and enjoy content on specific dates and in specific locations. And also, this structure invites them to live an alternative fiction creative lifestyle, which can also increase the value of the IP. By using the cloud, other people’s newest equipment which they don’t use, plus the methods of using that equipment in order to make alternative fiction creations and learn about them within their own space-time can bring about a demand for community events.
Smartphones allow for customer interaction in a way which is not only online but also fosters real life planning, and much data is being collected while the IP interaction activities performed by many companies are used as the customer’s ID, which gives even greater positive points to both aspects of IP creation and growth. Of course, building this kind of structure involves a lot of hard work and can’t all be done in a day.
I think it’s not a matter of just wishing for a product to become a hit by a strike of luck, but instead it is important to build this structure as a business model to expand its fan base and profit continuously.

(Article by: Kazuya Yoshida)

Fields Research Institute (FRI) conducts research in entertainment. This article was written by the member of FRI, through the original coverage of his/her interests that discovered from daily life.

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