1. Overview of the consumption patterns
Considering the age of the respondents, one realizes that most of them belong to what one could call the second (21-24 years old) and third (15-20 years old) generations of mangas/animes amateurs, the first one being made up of those born at the end of the 1970’s and beginning of the 80’s, that is, people now aged 25 to 31.
Actually, since animes were broadcasted on Italian and French TV channels in the 1980’s, the Swiss-French and Swiss-Italians have been exposed to animes more than 10 years before their Swiss-German comrads, who had to wait until the mid-90’s to discover these series on German private channels. Except, of course, for a happy-few respondents who acknowledged having watched French channels thanks to the cable network at the beginning of the 1990’s. Besides these few exceptions, my corpus, on this question, reflects the results from the French, Italian and German surveys.
Overall, most respondents from the 3 regions have discovered the « printed » mangas between 1997 and 2003. The Swiss-German and Swiss-French respondents mostly started reading mangas at ages 10 to 14, while surprisingly, the Swiss-Italians started slightly later, between the ages of 12 and 16.
Animated series broadcasted by the TV channels from the neighboring countries were not the only factor to have prepared the field for mangas. Most respondents have also been readers of comics and the older they are, the higher their numbers. Among the Swiss-French, more than 75% say they continue reading comics along mangas, against only 50% among the Swiss-Germans and Swiss-Italians, which means that in these regions, mangas are competing with comics for readers.
From the list of titles mentioned by the people from the 3 regions, one can assess the importance of some « cult » series, such as Dragon Ball [Doragonbōru -ドラゴンボール], Sailor Moon [Bishōjo Senshi Sērā Mūn – 美少女戦士セーラームーン,] or City Hunter [Shitī Hantā – シティーハンター]. However, the broadcast of the animated version of these series had already been ended when most of these people started reading mangas. Several hypothesis can be made here, one of them being about the potential role of older members from family or social circles. They might also have seen them on video (VHS or DVD), as these animés have been marketed as cult series in several media and made available in department stores often alongside Disney and other types of animation.
After crossing the tables of the hit parades of the favorite series listed by the respondents from the 3 regions, it emerges a mixt of old and new series, of « classics » and more recent successes. It is also interesting to note the dominance of « shonen » series, although more than half of the corpus is made up of women. This indicates that female readers of mangas have absolutely no problem to surf between various editorial genres. Even though this doesn appear here, one must note that several male respondants appreciate « shojo » mangas, especially for their emphasis on the psychological development of the characters and the offbeat humour they perceive in some of these series.
When it comes to consumption, as said earlier, respondents reflect pretty well the good economic health of Switzerland and rarely deny themselves, eventhough a majority of them say that they would spend more money to buy manga-related products if they had more resources.
Still, with an average budget of 120€ per months for the purchase of mangas, DVD and other merchandising, including a minimum of 82€ and a maximum of 265€ per month, they haven’t got much to worry about.
The average number of owned mangas and DVD’s confirm this: 286 albums and 73 DVD per person. They are thus more than 50% to own more than 100 manga albums and 25% to possess more than 100 DVD’s of series and OAVs. Accordingly, more than 80% of the respondents buy their mangas and more than 50% to read them at least 3-4 times a week if not more often.
2. First attempt at defining consumer profiles
By crossing the answers to the questions concerning the economic aspects of manga consumption and those regarding the importance of these products in the respondents’ lives, especially their impact on their moods and daily routine, I have been able to extract a first panel of consumers profiles. Nonetheless, I’ll have to confirm them with more thorough interviews to come later.
I was thus able to identify the « fans », whom I consider to be the biggest consumers in term of quantity and the most affected by mangas in their daily lives. Then come those I have called « amateurs », defined as average but regular consumers, for whom mangas still hold an important position in their activities. And finally, in the last category, I have placed the « occasional » readers, those who like a good manga from times to times to let off the steam of a stressfull life but for whom they remain just one form of entertainment among many others. Considering the topics addressed by the questionnaire, time and financial means are often central factors in the involvment of people with these products and the various social activities that have emerged around their consumption. It therefore becomes quite obvious that among the fans one find a majority of people from the younger cohort (students, schoolers and people in professional training) who still have quite a bit of free time and at the same time have enough money at their disposal to satisfy their passion. Most of the amateurs are people are already professionally active who enjoy these fictional universe a lot, but have much less time to devote to this hobby. The occasional category is in great part made up of people who either have very little free time or not enough financial resources to sustain their consumption. Therefore, most of the unemployed people of my corpus are occasionals.