Harajuku, Tokyo, Japan

Learning to Change: Three steps to a successful Market Entry in Japan [SUMMARY]

This is a summary of a post by Dominic Carter, longtime Japan market researcher and strategist from CarterJMRN, a strategic market research agency in Japan.


Pondering why some famous brands win (Starbucks and Disney) and many more fail with Japan market entry, Dominic presents in considerable detail, his three golden rules to a successful market entry in Japan. You can read the whole post here, and here too where you can follow &/or connect with Dominic on LinkedIn, to not miss out on his future writings, as well as take a look back at his past articles, which are also highly recommended.

Market entry in Japan: Fail to adapt and perish

Many companies fail to appreciate the changes needed, in the way they think about marketing in order to be successful in Japan. Different values, needs, and priorities underlie consumer behaviour in Japan and Companies need to consider adapting their approach to the consumer, and the way they do business in general.

Three critical stages in consumer strategy

After 20 years working with companies on Market Entry, Dominic suggests there are three critical stages in consumer strategy that are required and there are no feasible shortcuts around them:

  1. The first rule to market entry in Japan: It’s the trust, stupid
    • Japanese consumers will look for signs of trust before they buy
    • Celebrity endorsement is popular in Japan
    • How did Disney do it?
    • Partner with a local in Japan
  2. The second rule to market entry in Japan: Turn your differences to your advantage
    • Differences can be translated into real market advantages
    • In the Japanese market, heritage sells
  3. The third rule to market entry in Japan: Reset the agenda in your category
    • Resetting the agenda is simple to explain, but hard to achieve
    • The incredible fairytale story of Starbucks in Japan
    • Fail to be a game-changer in Japan, and you will merely become a fad
    • Feeling your way through to a successful market entry in Japan

One final thought is that, on top of all the knowledge gained, it is the ability to feel your way through Japan that is the ‘plus alpha’ of success. Japan is a culture that is fueled by emotion, and this is equally true in the three areas I am stipulating for success.

~ Dominic Carter
Image by travelphotographer from Pixabay

This Summary was written by Jason Ball, a “Fixer” and people Connector, in Tokyo and owner of the Business In Japan | LinkedIn group Founded 2/2008 | 57,000+ members as at 2019, 35%+ in Japan.

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