6 Mistakes to Avoid When Marketing in Japan


Planning to sell your products in Japan?

Or want to set up shop there?

While the Japanese market is a tough market to break into, with sufficient preparation, you can succeed where others have failed.

But, what are those failures? They are:


You can not “just do it.” You need a game plan. You are spending both time and money opening up a new business in a new market. So if you want to reach your goals, your game plan needs to be efficient and thorough. This can be tracking ROI metrics, or setting a timeline; whatever it may you’re tracking your progress. 

Do not assume one tactic will directly transfer and be successful in another country. Many companies think their strategists will work in Japan because it was successful back home, however, their efforts will fall short. So, adjust and localize your tactics and learn what does and does not work in Japan.


Business relationships are essential. Whether it is between individuals, groups, or companies, this is especially important in Japan where you are defined by your placement in the social strata. The exchange of business cards is essential as well. It is imperative to build strong relationships, so get to know your team of experts. 

You can not succeed without a strong level of familiarity with the locals. Affiliate marketers can be invaluable in this area.



Translation can be tricky!

Nuance, intention, and inference can be lost or accidentally inserted if you are not careful. In Japanese, this can be pertinent. Any phrase in English can come across as excessively aggressive in Japanese. Or, a seemingly clever slogan can completely fall flat.

When creating your brand message for Japan, be clear and insistent about what it is you’re trying to convey about your company or brand. A lazy or thoughtless translation can be incredibly damaging. 


The Japanese society is a largely conservative and tradition-preserving one. However, those ways are not connected to consumer trends

With the growth and expansion in e-commerce, Japanese purchasing trends shift quickly. You need to adjust at their speed or get left behind.

Japan can change as much as it stays the same. If you hinder yourself, then you are ready for changes.


Here are some facts about Japan’s population:

  • 25% of Japan’s population is over the age of 65
  • life expectancy is increasing
  • marriage & birth rates decline

These stats are expected to increase. As such, many products and services are directly aimed at this demographic, with great success.

Whatever you are selling in Japan, be sure to have the older citizens in mind when developing content or iterations that appeal to them. You’ll be doing yourself a favor.


As we know, a lot of young people love being on mobile devices. So it’s a good idea to vest in online advertising, and maintain a presence on the popular social media platforms. Of course, do not forget about the older population!

The older Japanese citizens are avid readers of newspapers. Despite being the tenth largest population in the world, three of the top five newspapers in global circulation come from Japan. The Yomiuri Shimbun has nearly 20 times the daily circulation of the New York Times. 

Just some food for thought.


While these mistakes are quite easy to avoid, there are reasons why there are it’s difficult to enter the Japanese market. 

Want to read more?
Click here to read about the mistakes that big brands make when entering Japan or here to learn how to enter the Japanese market.