Localized Marketing for Japanese Consumers

Marketing in Japan is not an easy task. Providing products and services that appeal to consumers while understanding Japanese culture is the key to attracting local consumers. This column will introduce interesting aspects of Japanese localized marketing and detail basic points for marketing success in a post-COVID Japanese market.

1. Research the market and develop localized strategies

Japan is one of the most meticulous markets in the world. The first rule is to understand your market and analyze your audience. Japanese culture is more family-centered, sentimental, and multicultural. Therefore, a localized marketing strategy that naturally utilizes the Japanese language is a must. For example, KitKat was originally from the United Kingdom, but this brand is now known throughout Japan and globally. One of the major contributors for KitKat’s success in Japan is the transliteration of the product name. The name KitKat is like the Japanese word for good luck, “Kitto Katsu”. Students get a KitKat before taking a test for good luck. Therefore, KitKat is popular during exam season, which runs from January to March. KitKat also sells various kinds of flavors designed especially for certain regions. By adapting the brand to Japan, KitKat became one of Japan’s most beloved chocolate brands. In addition to working with the Japanese language, it is also effective to develop marketing strategies that are region specific.

2. Develop a customized marketing calendar

Consider Japanese holidays and events to be essential when developing marketing plans. Being aware of Japanese holidays is key to a successful marketing campaign. For example, New Year’s fukubukuro (lucky bag) is popular as a New Year’s tradition, and many fukubukuro items are worth more than the price, attracting consumers. Scarcity is part of the appeal, so people line up for the it during New Years, priced with a lucky number, such as a price matching the year. People don’t mind waiting in line, and they have a strong desire to go to stores that have queues, so why not take advantage of this new year’s Fukubukuro and create a queue at your store or business?

March is also one of the most popular months for travelers to travel in Japan, so it can be an ideal situation for travel agencies to advertise. In addition, many companies will carry out campaigns by changing product designs and releasing limited flavors to connect to the season, such as the cherry blossom design Coca-Cola bottle and Sakura mochi pie released by McDonald’s Japan. We recommend that you pay attention to Japanese holidays and create a marketing plan that goes along with the season. At the end of March, students who are graduating will have more ways to enjoy their trips like discounts at amusement parks or events, and during Hanami season, hold events to enjoy cherry blossom-collaborated products while viewing the cherry blossoms.

Source: McDonalds
Source: Coca-Cola

3. Creating a Japanese persona may help

Target personas in Japan are very different from those in other countries. Knowing the type of Japanese people will lead to a successful marketing plan. By creating personas, companies can customize their marketing campaigns and effectively reach potential consumers. For example, unlike their elders, Generation Z personas do their own research on social networking sites about the products they want, check prices on several e-commerce sites, and have great faith in word of mouth communications. Therefore, Researching the Japanese market and creating Japanese personas will help you resonate with the market.

4. Conclusion

To conclude, Japanese marketing has a unique culture, consumer behavior, and language, so it is critical that companies thoroughly research and build a marketing calendar before starting a marketing campaign. In addition, by partnering with marketing specialists or agencies in Japan, you can gain valuable insight to ensure success. Localizing your materials such as websites and images can effectively communicate with your consumers. Establishing Japanese personas and implementing campaigns that leverage appropriate digital channels will help you reach and engage your target consumers in Japan.