Go Japanese Or Go Home


Japan is a popular destination for tourists. In fact, a small island in Japan has even been named the most popular travel destination in 2018. Needless to say, the island nation is becoming an attractive area, both regarding culture and landscape. The global public has fallen in love with the kawaii characters and the healthy sushi – even though most people continue to refer to all the Japanese cuisine in terms of sushi – and more and more tourists plan their holiday in the island where the sun rises first. But aside from being an exciting vacation destination, Japan is also a fantastic place to start building your business empire. With its mixture of reliability, innovativeness, cultural differences and growing markets, Japan has everything you need to grow your startup safely and durably. So what’s stopping you from going Japanese and making a success of it? Here are the key lessons you need to learn before approaching the Japanese market.

They love apps in Japan

Japan is by far one of the most modern countries in the world. As a result, it’s also the country where apps are the most popular, and especially gaming apps. In fact, despite its small size, Japan is the first country in terms of consumption of gaming app, enabling developers and app companies to profit significantly from monetizing their application to the Japanese market. Japanese users are more likely to use in-app purchases, creating an average revenue per download of $6.34, opposed to the cost per install of $1.86. So, if you’re considering the internationalization of your business, you need to give your app Japanese exposure to approach this profitable market. From a practical point of view, you should offer a Japanese version of all play apps, as it’s the best way to grow your revenues effectively. Lifestyle and networking apps are also big in Japan, as the market reacts positively to the western culture. For businesses, it’s a simple enough tech alternative to testing a new market without a high budget involvement.

You can trust Japanese engineering for your business

Japanese engineering is received positively all around the world. In fact, when it comes to everyday items, more and more users turn to Japanese manufacturers for replacement parts to fix their IT devices. Last year, Murata Manufacturing, a Japanese manufacturer, announced that their parts still support Apple’s technological leaps forwards with the iPhone X. Another common everyday item that benefits from the Japanese engineering quality is your car. Japanese cars have a reputation for being extremely reliable, more than American or even German cars. Automakers such as Honda, Nissan and Toyota, have long proven their worth, and even though you could apply for a Nissan extended warranty plan, you probably know that it’s likely you’ll never need it. The natural effort that Japanese manufacturers put in design and research pays off so that pieces last longer and don’t need to be often replaced. Working with a Japanese partner in any part of a manufacturing project is a profitable choice.  

An intensely innovative and playful country

Every year, CEATEC opens its door to the largest electronics show in Japan. And every year the nation that has invented the Walkman and the blue LED light continues to fascinate visitors with their innovative approach to electronics. Last year, CEATEC introduced a Bluetooth bitescan, designed to measure your chewing strokes. The purpose? Helping people to eat healthily by maximizing their chewing habits, and ultimately collecting data to improve the food and dental industries. Japan has also brought a new identifiable print to the market, the earprint, which is much more difficult to fake than a fingerprint. Finally, for those trying to lose weight, an infrared calorie counter can help you to know how much you’re really consuming in a meal. What would you give to share these innovations with your audience?

The joy of Japanese partnerships

Admittedly, if you already have a business outside of Japan, you may only be looking for a partner to expand your activities on the island of the rising sun. You might as well gain new insights into business management and performance management by developing a close connecting with a Japanese firm. Indeed, management in Japan doesn’t start in the office. Management is designed by people for people, and it has a clear purpose: To help you to make the most of your knowledge and expertise in your life. As Japanese has a deep understanding of the value of each individual, they, therefore, ensure that business management delivers individual value to each employee.

Who is the Japanese customer?

If you’re looking to understand the Japanese customer, it’s important to understand that while the market is different, most consumers are learning lessons from their European and American counterparts. Discounted prices and online retailers have now become a popular behavior in Japan too. In other words, you might want to remember the lessons learned on the Western market regarding best value for money items, as you will be using these to enter the Japanese market. The typical Japanese household spends more time at home than going out, and they choose lunch boxes over lunch offers. In short, if you want to export, you need to deliver exceptional value.

What does the market want?

However, you’d be pleased to know that exporting onto the Japanese market can be easy. Indeed, you are dealing with an audience who is attracted to Western products. Surprisingly, while American and European customers love the cuteness of kawaii items, their Japanese neighbors find our Snoopy, Smurf, Bart Simpson and Barbapapa just as cute and desirable. In fact, you could almost say that Western characters have a kawaii reputation in Japan, among children and adults. Lifestyle items, from fashion to beauty products, are especially sought for, as Japanese customers long for Western life and overseas trips. However, you will need to ensure that your export items don’t go against some of the trade barriers. There are indeed specific rules and regulations to comply with if you want to export, so it’s important to work closely with your local Department of Commerce and to link with Japanese offices.

In conclusion, there is a lot of potential for startups and existing businesses to turn to the Japanese market for growth and partnership. Innovativeness, creativity, playfulness, management skills, and new kawaii culture, there is a lot to gain from building a business relationship with Japan.


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