TARGET CUSTOMERS in JAPAN: Why You Need Japanese Millennials for a Successful Business

The concept of millennials in Japan 

The world trends have been changing recently so fast with new types of shoppers that are categorized as “Generation Y” or simply identified as “Millennials”. They are people born around between 1980 and 1995. Compared to their parents’ generations, MONDO (a ADDISON group company based in the US) stated in an article that millennials came to the world at a time when various technologies and platforms that are massively used now i.e. emails, smartphones, internet connectivity and SNS started to revolutionize communication and the way business is carried out.   

According to InfoCubic Japan, “the ‘Yutori’ (millennial) generation is considered to be those born after 1987 and before 1997 give or take” in Japan. Worldwide, between 2017 and 2018 alone, millennials have spent more than $200 billion and will be spending approximately $10 trillion in their lifetimes, if estimates are correct. 

Nowadays, millennials are at the center of many business successes  in Japan, contributing to their sales growth. Because of the age gap between generations, experts involved in the marketing field argue that companies must shift their strategies in order to remain relevant to the Yutori Generation. This means that the rise of millennials has spawn a huge growth in the digital market, not only in Japan but in other parts of the world. 

The proof that millennials mostly live on digital platforms 

In the same article by MONDO, it was mentioned that millennials spend on average about 240 minutes or 4 hours each day on SNS or scrolling between online pages, trying to find new trends for fashion, games, high tech, and so on. Most of them are internet savvy and stay connected the whole time they are awake. Today, thanks to push notifications, several products and services can be advertised to millennials directly on their smartphones. Therefore, if a company knows its target audience well, it is already a competitive advantage to win and their business will end up being successful. 

This is the proof that digital marketing is important while targeting millennials. Thus, the necessity of including “Influencers” in the marketing plan. 

Social media and influencers can make a significant impact while  targeting millennials 

There is no doubt that most millennials in Japan have grown up with the advancement of new information and communication technologies in an environment where telecommunication and access to the internet are essential now more than ever. In addition, no one can deny the power of social media today, when it comes to digital marketing. 

SNS platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, TikTok… and  apps like LINE are the most popular among Japanese young people. In fact, as per data released by Info Cubic, “Twitter and Instagram are the fastest growing social networks in Japan with Twitter boasting over 45 million (Japanese) users, and Instagram with 20 million active (Japanese) users in 2017, almost a 50 percent increase since 2015”.  

According to an article by Marketing Insider, companies should put emphasis on showcasing their core values as wished by most millennials.  In reality, it is crucial that the marketing campaigns highlight the company’s mission that should be aligned with these values, while promoting businesses particularly on SNS platforms. This will actually help them get millennials’ attention so that they can buy into one’s brand; and this will be more efficient if  especially influencers get involved.  This shows the importance of including social media as a key component in the company’s overall marketing plan as an effective way to approach millennials.    

 Millennials in Japan are different and prefer a simplistic lifestyle 

Finally, it is important to point out that millennials in Japan are quite different from millennials in other countries. When marketing to millennials in Japan, there is an imperative of keeping it simple, relatively cheap (probably under $10 or about ¥1,000) but still high quality which characterizes this country. In fact, in Japan, the youth has shown a desire of a more simplistic lifestyle. And the majority of young people (about more than 60% of high school and university students) prefer to be considered as being frugal rather than generous with money, according to a survey by Dentsu Innovation Institute, a Japanese marketing and consumer research company. 

As an example, to support this statement, a survey on Japanese young adults suggested that: “57% of young adults intended to decrease their overall spending and a similar percentage intend to save more money”. This situation could probably be due to the fact that there are more “freeters” (people who do not have a stable job), in addition to the lack of interest in just one  “job for life”, in comparison with their parents’ generation.  

In conclusion, generational challenges for boomers and millennials in Japan are not the same compared to other parts of the world. Indeed, Japan has a wide range of best practices as well as major challenges. When considering one’s strategy to engage in business, it’s necessary to consider that “one size doesn’t fit all”. Therefore, it is advisable to always dig deep into cultural differences, while finding one’s way to the best approach to reach millennials in Japan.