5 Things to Know When Marketing to Japanese Consumers

Japan has faced a significant shift in consumer behavior within the past decade, notably among the younger generation

 Corporations hoping to grow their business within the Japanese market are compelled to recognize and adapt to the new, less materialistic attitudes of Japanese youth.

So when it comes to businesses and brands, Japanese customers have a powerful preference for physical presence and establishment. However, with an understanding of the following principles, the difficulty of opening a shop in Japan can be eased.

#1: Accept The Current Reality of Customer Dynamics

Until recently, there were many tidbits of ‘understood wisdom’ concerning Japanese consumers: They buy domestic, don’t spend much on in-home luxuries, and will pay a lot for quality. These were verifiable, unfailing truths. Unfortunately, this doesn’t ring much true anymore.

Due to recent economic trends, Japanese customers have become considerably more cost-conscious. Inexpensive and discount stores, such as McDonald’s and Daiso, have seen a marked boom over the past few years.

To avoid wasting money, Japanese customers are more likely to shop around, go out of their way to visit physical shopping malls or make online purchases instead of browsing their local neighborhood businesses. Additionally, they economize by going out less, making them more willing to spend money on TVs and other in-home luxuries.

#2: Pay Attention To Demographics

Japan has the second oldest median age on Earth. This is a result of the declining rate of marriage and the younger generation spends most of their free time online. So, it is worth considering adjusting a product to appeal to older customers if you intend to work in Japan.

There is this generational divide, so you should consider this when crafting your marketing materials in Japan. Whether you market to the older demographics or the younger demographics, be aware that the medium you use to reach those customers will affect the values emphasized by your ads.

#3: Print Still Matters

Japan, by population, is the tenth-largest country in the world. It also boasts three of the five largest daily newspapers in circulation. An enormous part of this has to do with Japan’s aging population. Senior citizens are avid readers of physical papers and are intensely loyal to their selected newspaper.

It is estimated that 95% of Japanese newspapers are delivered domestically, and this native distribution network is what leads to their continued success. However, this limits their digital growth as newspapers are afraid to emphasize any online segments out of fear of offending their physical distributors.

This results in a sharp divide in media consumption between the young and old in Japan. Not only are the Japanese consuming media through entirely different mediums, but they’re obtaining their news from wholly different sources as well. Blogging prevails in Japan, and an upbeat, energetic blog is an excellent way to connect with younger demographics.


#4: Build Relationships

One of the best ways to reach customers in Japan is to create and build relationships with both businesses and influencers within the country. One good way to go about doing this is through affiliate marketing networks.

Similarly, you should create your team from the bottom up. who understand your business or brand, and learn how to convey that message in an easy-to-understand manner that can connect with customers. A team of interpreters, copywriters, translators, and designers will help bridge that cultural and linguistic gap.

#5: Custom Build Your Website

Do not have your English website directly automatically translated into Japanese. Your site is a place that can build trust with Japanese customers, interact with your audience, and rank high in SEO. There are several ways this can be done:

First, do not be afraid to be wordy. Japanese customers are more tolerant of a big block of text compared to Americans and Europeans. Additionally, Japanese characters enable you to include more information in the same amount of space. Also, a relatively long “About Us” section could be an effective way to list your company’s accomplishments and build trust.

Likewise, consider the written characters you’ll utilize on your website. There are three different sets of Japanese characters: Hiragana, Katakana, and Kanji. Some sites choose to write out certain words in the original Roman letters, however. Every choice, such as that, contains different implications regarding tone, context, and SEO. A skilled translator can assist you in understanding which choice best matches your intentions and desires.