Convenience stores and discretionary food consumption among young Tokyo consumers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose - The purpose of this paper is to consider the question of young consumer's discretionary consumption in Japan where the ready access to convenience stores, or "konbini", presents a unique retail landscape and to look at how young Japanese consumers use this store format as part of their discretionary food consumption.

Design/methodology/approach - This is an exploratory study that draws on primary qualitative data based on in store observations, accompanied shopping and a survey with young Japanese consumers. This approach provides an insight into the convenience store food offering and young consumer's everyday food practices and experience of using these retail stores.

Findings - The data reveals a relatively limited range of purchases on each store visit with some variation across time of the day and between individuals and groups of young consumers. Visits before and after school remain the most popular and young consumers make around two to four visits per week to a convenience store. It finds young consumers actively engaged in independent purchasing decisions in this retail format.

Research limitations/implications - This is an exploratory study with a geographically constrained sample conducted in several areas in and around Tokyo, Japan. It is a convenience sample recruited using student contacts and snowballing techniques.

Practical implications - Convenience stores represent an important "shopping habitat" for young consumers to engage in discretionary food shopping. While these convenience store purchases are not always unhealthy the promotion and pricing strategies used by retailers can have an influence on the final selection of products and convenience stores provide a unique opportunity to cultivate more healthful behaviour among young consumers.

Originality/value - This offers a unique insight into the relationship between young consumer's discretionary food choice and local retail provision in the convenience sector. It adds to the debate on the role of food environment on food choice and the extent to which young Japanese consumers are socialised into particular food practices through their engagement with the convenience retail sector.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1013-1029
Number of pages17
JournalInternational Journal of Retail and Distribution Management
Early online date9 Dec 2016
Publication statusPublished - 2016


  • young consumers
  • retail
  • convenience stores
  • discretionary consumption
  • food environment


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