Dubious Factoid of the Day, Japan Edition

In the era of the hyperlink, I’m increasingly mistrustful of bandied-around

statistics which don’t have an easily-accessible paper backing them up. Yves

heaps praise on one a piece of market research by Gartmore, for example, while


a similar piece by Javelin; I’m not likely to believe either of them, unless

and until I can see the actual market research, as opposed to a summary of conclusions.

Similarly, Tyler Cowen picks

up a statsitical factoid from Dana Thomas:

Analysts estimate that 20 percent of all luxury goods are sold in Japan and

another 30 percent to Japanese traveling abroad — meaning Japanese buy half

of all luxury goods. Today, approximately 40 percent of all Japanese own a

Vuitton product.

"Analysts estimate" is a classic red flag. Why are these "analysts"

nameless? And did more than one analyst really independently come up with exactly

the same estimate?

What’s more, the estimate doesn’t pass the smell test – certainly not

unless "all luxury goods" are defined carefully and narrowly so as

to only include the big international luxury brands so beloved in Japan. I mean,

Prada might be big there, but you’re not likely to see a Maserati as you walk

down the street. But in any case I see more Prada in Italy than in Japan. Color

me unconvinced.

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