50.4% of working women surveyed online by the Nikkei WOMAN Official Site (634 respondents) say they own a smartphone. That is more than a 20 percentage point increase from 2012, and the first time more than 50% own one. 8.9% said they own a tablet PC, up from 6.2% the previous year.
So why in the world are working women's handbags getting heavier?
It has become tradition for Nikkei WOMAN to run the story that shows what bags real working women are using and what they carry inside them. This year, the featured women in the article seem to be carrying an average of 1.4kg more than last year, with the average bag (complete with contents) weighing 3.9kg.
In the last couple of years, "Danshari" - a movement spearheaded by self-proclaimed Clutter Consultant and the latest clean up guru, Hideko Yamashita - has been the in thing and everything from fashion to popular celebrities to dining out has been shifting towards "simple chic." So it seems the editorial staff were expecting bags to get lighter. But they were wrong.
The reason is three-fold:
2. Conservation or saving
3. Preparing for the worst
Let's look into each of them and their impact in detail:
Digitalization Means More Digital Gadgets and Peripherals
Women who work in PR, consulting, sales, and other roles that require them to go out for meetings has them carrying PCs, smartphones, digital cameras, and peripherals.
Of the featured women in the Nikkei WOMAN article, the lady who had the heaviest bag at 5.7kg is a 29-year old PR staff at an apparel company. She has a tablet PC for work, business smartphone (provided by the office), personal smartphone, portable music player, chargers, and a digital camera, just to name the digital stuff she has.
"I think my bag is too heavy, too, but the digital tools I need for work cannot be spared," she says.
Conservation or Saving Means a Packed Lunch Box and a 500cc Thermos
A 27-year old system engineer says she takes a packed lunch and a thermos full of tea to the office every day.
"I am very conscious about saving money in my daily life and spend what I save on my hobbies like going to a live performance by my favourite artist," she comments.
There were other women with packed lunches, some of whom would bring only white rice and buy side dishes.
Memories of 3.11 Die Hard - Preparing for the Worst
There is an obvious increase in the number of women who carry chargers, bottled waqter, chocolate, candy, LED lights, and a disaster relief map and some other disaster response items since the Great East Japan Earthquake of 3.11 2011.
In the questionnaire, it became evident that 30% of women carry some kind of disaster response item in their bags every day, clearly indicating that even after two years, the memories of 3.11 die hard.
### Carpediemjapan Comments and Observations ###
According to the 3rd and 2011 Edition of the Brand Databank research report on what brand bags women own,
Women aged 25 to 29 own the following:
2. Louis Vuitton
5. Samantha Thavasa
9. Anna Sui
10. Marc Jacobs
Women aged 30 to 34 own the following:
2. Louis Vuitton
6. Le Sport Sac
9. Samantha Thavasa
10. Kate Spade
But when it comes to actual bags they commute with, the attributes they want seem very practical - "big enough to hold an A4 file," "has studs on the bottom so the bag does not get dirty when placed on the floor,""is light weight," and "has many pockets."
After years of insisting on real leather and gold color metal parts, I am beginning to see the benefits of coated canvas as my digital portfolio grows, too.