Japan flag Japan: Buying and Selling

Advertising and marketing in Japan

Marketing opportunities

Consumer Profile
The Japanese population is the oldest in the world, with a median age of 49.2 years in 2022 (Data Reportal). According to the latest data by World Bank, some 12% of the population is under 14 years of age , 59% between 15 and 64 years old and 29% over 65 years old. The population is decreasing (-0.39% in 2022, CIA World Factbook). The number of people per household is declining continuously and reaching 2.21 in 2020 while the number of households should continue to increase despite the decline in the population (Statistics Bureau of Japan). About 60% of households are couples with or without children. One-person households are increasing and represent nearly 35%. The Japanese population is 51.2% women and 48.8% men. Japan is one of the most densely populated countries and 92% of its population is urban (Data Reportal, 2022). Tokyo, followed by Kanagawa, Osaka, Aichi, and Saitama, account for 37.4% of the population (Statistics Bureau of Japan, 2021). The level of education is high, almost all the population has secondary education. In 2020, 61.5% of 25-34 year-olds had a tertiary degree in Japan compared to 45.5% on average across OECD countries. About one-fifth of the workforce is made up of office workers, 18.8% of professionals and engineers, 12.9% of people working in manufacturing processes, 12.6% of sales people, 12% of people working in services, 7.3% of people working in carrying, cleaning and packaging activities, while 4.2% are construction and mining workers. Workers in administration, security, transport and agriculture, forestry and fisheries each account for less than 3.5%.
Purchasing Power
In Japan, GDP per capita reached about USD 39,285.2 in PPP in 2021 (World Bank). Japan is a high-income society, but looking at the average annual wages of member countries in 2021 published by the OECD Japan ranked 24th, with 40,849 US dollars, lower than the average of all OECD countries, which was 52,436 US dollars. In Japan, the average household net-adjusted disposable income per capita is USD 28,872 a year, lower than the OECD average of USD 30,490  a year. There is a considerable gap between the richest and poorest – the top 20% of the population earn more than six times as much as the bottom 20%. The country suffers from inequalities, especially between the sexes. Although the gender wage gap in the country has decreased over the last 15 years, it remains large (22.1%), and Japan is fourth to last in the ranking compiled by the OECD. People under 20 are the least paid. Half of consumers believe they are more environmentally conscious about shopping than they were a year ago, yet very few are willing to pay more for it.
Consumer Behaviour
Japanese consumers have long tended to prefer quality consumption over mass consumption. However, the economic slowdown has led some consumers to seek out lower prices and lower quality products. This is especially true of the Yutori (Millennial) generation. Nearly 50% of people under the age of 25 work part-time and earn around $100–500 a month (Statistics Bureau of Japan, 2021). They are generally willing to visit malls and specialty stores if they offer entertaining shopping experiences. Discount stores and own-label products, which once struggled to break into the Japanese market have gained market share. Quality standards and service expectations (sales process, delivery, packaging, after-sales service, etc.) are high in Japan. The average basket in Japan, relatively high compared to Western countries, is down because of the change in consumption modes (cheaper products in particular). Due to the economic situation in Japan consumer confidence is eroding. Online shopping is attracting an increasing number of consumers though while the country is largely connected, e-commerce is less present than in Eastern Europe or the United States. Japanese consumers are very open to buying international brands for everyday consumer goods and are generally attracted by products imported from countries  perceived as "specialised" such as Swiss watches and French wines. Japan is the third largest luxury goods market in the world after the United States and China. LVMH Group’s global revenue share from Japan was 7% in 2021 (Retail in Asia).

Consumers in Japan are generally very brand loyal, however, the older population is more so than the younger generation. There is a strong desire for new products and generally consumers adopt brand innovations though loyalty is declining. Half of the population uses social media regularly. The Japanese mainly watch videos and follow influencers for opinions on products. Also, nearly three quarters of consumers inquire with social networks before buying certain products, especially cosmetics and fashion. In general, the Japanese are not worried about big data, thanks to the legislation in force. However, most believe that the counterpart to the accumulation of personal data is to receive regular tailored and promotional offers.

Since the economic crisis, the Japanese are moving towards lower priced consumption. According to a McKinsey study, while they were willing to spend more to save time, the trend is reversed for some Japanese consumers who prefer to take time to spend less. This is reflected in particular with diets. Part of the population now prefers to cook at home rather than eat out at a restaurant. Also, while the population spends most of the time outside the home even with small houses and long working hours there is an increase in the time spent at home. Regarding the environment, more than half of the population is more interested in it than the previous year. However, very few are willing to pay more for consuming environmentally responsible products. The collaborative economy, such as Airbnb, is struggling to attract more clients.
Consumers Associations
JCCU , Japanese Consumer Association
JCA , List of consumer groups
Main Advertising Agencies
Tokyu Agency
NTT Advertising

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Latest Update: July 2024