Childhood Experience and
Three-Generation Marketing

This happened to me in the early hours of one morning during a business trip. I went for a stroll before sunrise. The 100-meter-wide river in front of the hotel was shrouded in mist, and the shady water flowed gently toward an infinite world. White egrets and gray herons held their heads high as they wandered around, ever so slowly, looking for food. They looked very philosophical as they melted into the mist.

When I looked farther into the distance, my attention was caught by some violent splashing in the water. What was it? I stared ahead but couldn’t make it out. After a while, I walked upstream along the bank of the river, crossed an old-fashioned bridge over the water, and walked downstream again, hurrying toward the spot where the splashing was.

It was getting gradually brighter. Droplets of water weighed heavily on the leaves of the dense foliage and trees. As I approached a gentle slope, the strange world of splashing came into view. I tiptoed down to the edge of the water. Lo and behold, there I saw a huge school of fish swimming around on top of one another. They were about 30 cm long―the larger ones nearly 40 cm―and there must have been several hundred of them. I knew they weren’t dace, but what were they? I racked my brains but in the end was unable to identify them. I had grown up by a river in a mountainous area of Kyushu, but these fish were new to me.

Some time later I understood that these fish had gathered on top of one another in a shallow part of the river in order to spawn. My first instinct, however, had been to think about how I could catch one of them. For a while I leaned forward and gazed, but I wasn’t able to do anything. I threw a stone into the water, turned, and headed back upstream.

But my excitement brought back memories of my childhood, when I often went fishing because river fish were a precious source of protein in those days. Wearing goggles and armed with a gaff, I would dive into the water where the fish were. I can still vividly remember how transparent the water was and how, looking up from underneath, the surface of the river would glitter from the rays of sun pouring down on it.

On the old-fashioned bridge I met a local old man and excitedly told him about what I had just seen. “Ah,” he replied with an affable smile, “they’re izagoi. It must have been a school of izagoi. That’s not unusual.” I expected him to say “Really!” and run off to have a look for himself, but he just stood there smiling. The people, the fish, the birds, they are all surrounded by nature and one with nature. The morning sun glittered beyond the mist.

In my case, I still come to a halt before a river or fish. And when it comes to food, however old I get, bean-jam buns are still my favorite. As the proverb goes, the child is the father of the man.

Why have I told you this story? Because people of the baby-boom generation, who experienced audio in their younger days, have now reached their late sixties; their children, the so-called baby-boom juniors, who experienced audio in their homes as kids, are now in their forties; and their children, who also experienced audio, are in their late teens. And people coming just before or after these generations grew up in such an environment too.

I think we should be planning products with these three generations in mind. Our industry needs to pursue marketing that goes beyond just thinking about things.