How to Market to Japanese Customers as You Build Your Brand

April 20, 2022

The world’s changing, and brands are racing to get ahead of the curve. With the advancements in technology, it’s easier than ever to expand your business into new markets. Ultimately, learning as much as possible regarding consumer behavior before you localize your business will put you on the path to success.

Why market to Japan?

Japan is an economic powerhouse filled with consumers who have access to high levels of disposable income and a taste for premium products and services. As one of the most technologically advanced societies in the modern world, it’s no secret the Japanese are known for their ingenuity, resourcefulness, and impeccable attention to detail. These qualities make the market appealing to companies keen to go global.

With a population of over 125 million people, a median age range of just under fifty years old, and a decreasing birth rate, consumers have become increasingly cautious about how and where they spend their hard-earned money. Japan also trades closely with economic powers like Australia, the United States of America, China, Thailand, and South Korea — importing and exporting a diverse selection of goods from many sectors including retail, and transportation. Nevertheless, the economic slowdown in recent years hasn’t prevented Japanese consumers from remaining among the top purchasers of luxury goods and services and choosing quality over quantity.

Getting to know your customer

Customer mindset

Customers in Japan tend to be informed decision-makers, paying attention to quality, functionality, and style. Conscious and confident consumers, the Japanese value predictable, reliable, and safe products and services at a fair cost. With a naturally distrusting consumer base, spending time reading reviews, comparing prices, and testing products are not out of the ordinary for the typical customer.

Building trust

Understanding who you’re communicating with and what appeals to them is the first step to building trust with potential customers. Use the research you conduct to create a solid strategy to track consumer behavior, address concerns, and fill voids. 

How to connect with Japanese customers

Establish a presence

Brand loyalty scores are on the low end of the consumer priority scale. The most ubiquitous brands have earned success by establishing a recognizable presence that offers reliable products and a low cost. Still, many Japanese customers would opt to pay more for a well-made and innovative product than to waste time and money on low-quality products.

Use high-quality technology

The Japanese population is tech-savvy, with over 50% regularly accessing social media on various devices. Keeping up to date with software and technology that can get information and ultimately deliver products and services faster is one way to delight your customers.

Optimize social media and marketing strategies

With the rise of social media in recent years, implementing creative marketing strategies to stay ahead of the competition is more important than ever. The way shoppers consume information has radically changed — from solely word-of-mouth marketing to text and now, images and video — and often on mobile devices. Take the time to study where and how your target audience finds the information they need to make informed decisions about purchases.

Localize products and services 

The same products that work in your local market or other foreign markets may not be successful in the Japanese market. Understanding the differences and nuances that Japanese culture comprises will show your dedication to providing exceptional service — and help customers decide if your offer is worth the investment. While promoting your goods, think strongly about how it will benefit Japanese consumers and showcase products that will set your business apart from the competition.

How can businesses support Japanese-speaking customers?

Overcoming the challenges

Due to a naturally distrustful culture, the Japanese market is notoriously challenging to break into. Companies that plan to grow their business here will have to conduct research and take great strides to adjust to the local culture. Since the Japanese are known for their ingenuity, your products, services, and sales tactics will need to be unique, innovative, and tailored to your customers’ needs. You’ll also need to be organized, flexible, and patient when dealing with bureaucracy as you set up your business in Japan.

Speaking their language

Overcoming the language barrier is one key to building trust and establishing empathy.
To maintain those relationships, you will need to optimize your time and resources through the right software and strategies, and effectively communicate in your customers’ language. 

Want to learn more about taking your business global by expanding into Japan? Download the complete Japan Market Guide.

About the Author

Profile Photo of Phill Brougham
Phill Brougham

Director of Product Marketing at Unbabel, Phill Brougham spent the last five years working for SaaS businesses focused on applying artificial intelligence to solving real-world business and productivity problems. Throughout his roles, Phill’s focus has been on translating technological capability into clear, understandable value.