Alcohol and Beverages in Japan

Japan’s Top Market Niches for Alcohol and Beverages in 2023

Japan is a country known for its rich culture and unique customs, and this extends to its market for alcohol and beverages. In 2023, there are several niche markets that are expected to see growth and opportunity in Japan.

Canned and ready-to-drink options

Both canned and RTD options have seen growth in consumer demand. These drinks allow consumers to enjoy the same beverages they would find in a bar in the comfort of their homes. In most cases, this type of product comes at a premium price. The consumer is willing to pay that price as they expect flavor and ingredients of high quality. The convenience and premium quality of these drinks offer business opportunities. You can sell all types of cocktails and other special flavored drinks. They should not be widely available in the domestic market and catch the consumers’ interest.

Low and non-alcohol options

Another niche market is the market for non-alcoholic beverages. Japan has a strong tea culture, and there is increasing demand for high-quality, premium teas. Additionally, there is a growing interest in health and wellness, leading to an increase in demand for functional beverages such as sports drinks and energy drinks.

Cocktails and Mixers

Not only do ready-to-drink options entertain consumers outside a bar or restaurant. Also, cocktails and do-it-yourself mixer options enhance outstanding experiences by customizing drinks. They engage in social interaction everywhere and create business opportunities. You can sell cocktail syrups, bitters, shrubs, mixer sets, and other unique products. These products serve the demand for custom-made drinks of impeccable taste.

Wine

Japan has traditionally been a beer and spirits-drinking country, but there is a growing interest in wine among Japanese consumers.

It is expected to see the most growth in the market for imported wines, particularly French wines.

Craft Beers

Japan has a long history of brewing beer, and in recent years, there has been a surge in small, independent breweries producing unique and flavorful craft beers. These craft beers often use locally sourced ingredients and traditional brewing techniques, making them popular among both tourists and locals.

Japan's Top Market Niches for Alcohol and Beverages in 2023

Sake and Sochu

The markets for traditional Japanese alcohol, such as sake and shochu are also expected to see growth in 2023.

These traditional alcohols are becoming more popular among younger Japanese consumers, who are interested in learning about and experiencing their country’s traditional culture and customs.

In conclusion, the Japanese market for alcohol and beverages is diverse and constantly evolving. These markets offer exciting opportunities for companies and entrepreneurs looking to enter the Japanese market.

Planning to enter the alcohol and beverage market in Japan?

As your local partner, COVUE helps you gain market insight. Among the services of our End-2-End Japan Market Entry Solution are researching the latest trends, analyzing consumer demographics, and evaluating competitors.

Japan Food Import Restrictions

Importing Food in Japan: Restricted And Prohibited Items

Japan has strict regulations for importing food products in order to ensure food safety and protect the domestic agriculture industry.

All food imports to Japan must meet Japan’s food safety standards, which are among the strictest in the world. These standards are set by the Ministry of Health, Labour, and Welfare (MHLW) and enforced by the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries (MAFF). The MHLW and MAFF also conduct inspections of imported food products at ports of entry. 

COVUE specializes in helping foreign companies with food import processes. We help you through the whole process – from meeting the food safety standards to processing the labeling and packaging requirements. In this article, we will discuss the food items that are restricted and prohibited to import into Japan.

 

What are the food items that are restricted and prohibited to import in Japan? 

 Meat and livestock products from certain countries  

Japan has restrictions on the import of meat and livestock products from certain countries due to concerns about mad cow disease and other diseases. These include beef, pork, and poultry products from countries such as the United States, Canada, and Australia. In addition, Japan restricts the import of dairy products from certain countries because of foot-and-mouth disease and other diseases.

 Fresh fruits and vegetables from certain countries 

  Japan prohibits the import of fresh (and pickled) fruits and vegetables from some countries as stated in the Plant Protection Law. For example, most fruits and vegetables from Europe, Africa, the Middle East, or South America can’t be imported into Japan with some exceptions. They allow selected countries in Asia to ship a variety of fruits and vegetables, except for papayas, mangoes, apples, pears, grapes, peaches, melons, tomatoes, eggplant, peppers, and potatoes. These examples might not apply to every country in that specific region. It’s best practice to consult an expert to determine if your food items are restricted or prohibited from import.

 Seafood caught using driftnets 

Seafood caught using driftnets is also prohibited from being imported into Japan, due to concerns about overfishing and bycatch. Driftnets are large nets that are left to drift in the ocean and can trap and kill a wide variety of marine animals, such as dolphins and sea turtles.

 Genetically modified organisms (GMOs) 

Japan has a zero-tolerance policy for GMOs in food. This includes products such as corn and soybeans that have been genetically modified to be resistant to pests and diseases. 

 Food that contains additives and preservatives 

Japan also prohibits the import of foods containing additives and preservatives that are not approved by Japanese law. This includes artificial flavors, colors, and sweeteners that are commonly used in processed foods.

Organic labeled foods  

You can’t label foods as “Organic” or “Organically produced” in Japan if they are not tested and certified by the JAS (Japan Agricultural Standards) and don’t possess an “Organic JAS mark.” Even if your goods are affixed and registered as such in their county of origin, you need to get a JAS label. Otherwise, you can’t import your goods into Japan.

Note that these restrictions and prohibitions can change over time. It’s always best to check with Japan’s Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries or the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) before attempting to import any food items into Japan.

Here is all you need to know about importing food and beverages to Japan.

 Conclusion 

There are strict regulations for importing food in Japan. All regulations and restrictions make it challenging for foreign brands to expand their food business in Japan. COVUE as your local operating partner can help you navigate Japan´s food regulations and help you ensure that you meet all compliance prior to importing.

We’re here to help!

Food and Beverage Market 2023

What Trends Does Japan’s Food and Beverage Market Hold in 2023?

Driven by constant innovation, it is crucial to your success to keep up with Japan’s latest developments in the food and beverage industry.

To name a few, Japanese consumers prefer to buy natural food over processed foods, drink less alcohol, and choose foods and drinks that support their health.

With the ongoing recession, Japan faces increasing prices for several goods. That does not mean consumers will spend less. However, they will purchase more mindfully. Outpace your competition in the Japanese market by leveraging current opportunities.

Natural and sustainable products

 The COVID-19 pandemic has led to Japanese consumers making more purchase-buying decisions based on clean labels and nutrition claims. Behind that lies the willingness to live healthier and prevent sickness. This trend will continue in 2023.

The beverage industry is a good example. Merchants have started to offer more organic and fermented drinks, such as kombucha, to attract customers. With unique offerings, it can be profitable to jump on this trend.

Premium and special editions

The cost of labor and raw materials is high, according to the food manufacturer. Therefore, prices rise and the consumer’s pocket is tight. Yet, consumers continue purchasing. Their buying intentions shift. In 2023, they will think more about where, when, what, and how often they buy from brands.

Premium coffee, high-class wines, artisan tea, special-flavored salts, and more are in high demand. High-quality products from abroad come with an outstanding customer experience that is worth purchasing. As a foreign brand with specialties and premium goods, the growing interest in high-end food and beverages provides promising expansion opportunities.

Read more about how to import food into Japan.

Food trends in Japan

Items for the health-conscious consumer

As consumers’ attention turns to health-supporting products, the beverage and food industry needs to keep up with the demand. The supply of versatile goods, such as functional drinks, including fruit juices, sports drinks, energy beverages, fermented drinks, and non-alcoholic beverages, is expected to grow in 2023. They are supposed to benefit the metabolism, maintain energy levels, reduce inflammation, and more. Yakult is a well-known brand in Japan. The drink is supposed to relieve stress and improve sleep.

Brands continue to emphasize high-quality nutrients and the positive effects of their products as they target customers searching for healthy options that fit their hectic lifestyles. You can leverage this market by examining what consumers want. What flavors, packaging, and benefits are they looking for? It is best to conduct proper market research before tapping into the market.

Conclusion 

Overall, you can succeed in Japan if you can offer innovative and high-quality foods and beverages that align with current trends in Japan. Organic, versatile, premium and special products attract price- and health-conscious consumers these days. Be aware that the market in Japan changes quickly. Depending on economic and other conditions, Japanese consumers adapt fast. The key to seeing opportunities in the Japanese market lies in understanding the latest trends.

 How COVUE can help you 

COVUE helps you to maximize market opportunities. Our bilingual team serves as your operating partner in Japan. From eCommerce entry to marketing and fulfillment, we build and execute your business strategy for the Japanese market.

Japan Trends in 2023

What Are Japan’s Trends and Opportunities for Foreign Businesses in 2023?

With the fresh start of a new year, exciting trends and opportunities await your business in Japan.

Trends like these pop up when searching online:

Japanese society is getting older and older. Fewer and fewer children are being born. eCommerce continues to grow and Japan continues to rely greatly on imports.

These tendencies carry business possibilities for you.

Then let’s dive into the latest trends for your venture.

Japan Businesses

 What Are Japan’s Business Trends in 2023? 

  1. Society and industry

Low birth rates, a rapidly aging population, and labor shortages cause a need for new resources and solutions. Industries such as pharmaceuticals and medical devices, robotics and advanced manufacturing solutions, travel and financial services have to develop to keep up with the upcoming challenges.

  1. Import

As the 5th largest importer in the world, Japan continues to rely on imports from foreign countries. In particular, it depends on the import of natural supplies such as energy resources, sustainable energy solutions, and food in 2023.

  1. The Japanese consumer

Japan has a well-educated and high-spending consumer base. They emphasize sustainable, high-quality, popular, cutting-edge items and services from Japan and other countries. Foreign brands that offer products meeting their expectations can profit from this trend.

  1. Sustainability in business

According to asianinvestor, large Japanese companies might shift their focus more towards ESG and human rights due diligence. As a result, businesses consider restructuring their supply chains with local solutions instead of global ones. Since the prices of global supply chains have escalated in 2022, local solutions can also be a cost-effective alternative. As a foreign merchant, it´s also important to keep an eye on how these changes will affect your competitors and their consumers.

  1. Economy

Since real wages are stagnant and prices are rising, Japan may see a negative impact on local consumer spending in 2023. A weaker yen and higher energy prices are the leading causes of inflation. The Japanese government creates incentives to keep inflation as low as possible.

  1. eCommerce

Despite economic challenges, the eCommerce landscape has blossomed in Japan and provides many opportunities for foreign companies to test the market. There is a shift in the audience as more older customers participate in online shopping. That creates a gateway to introduce products that are especially targeting them. Besides that, Amazon Japan has become the most frequented eCommerce platform and continues to grow in 2023.

Read more about the top 10 best-selling product categories in Japan.

 What Business Opportunities will be in Japan in 2023? 

As demand across several industries grows, here are the most promising potential categories for your brand to enter the Japanese market.

  1. Renewable energy technology

Renewable energy sources like solar, wind, and water, electric vehicles, green building technology, and more are increasing in demand. Until 2050, Japan has set the goal to support the development of these technologies while stepping away from fossil energy resources. This industry calls for innovative products and solutions, according to The National Bureau of Asian Research.

  1. Artificial intelligence and automation

Since society is aging rapidly and the birthrate is low, Japan might face a workforce shortage in the future. Therefore, AI and automation are ways to keep productivity and efficiency up. It will also open doors to new business ventures like AI that will perform simple coding tasks instead of a human being.

  1. Agriculture and food production

Because of Japan’s past reliance on food imports, the nation’s agriculture cannot meet domestic demands. That’s why the country depends on imports of food and beverages and is expected to rely even more on imports in the next few years. As a foreign merchant, you can take advantage of the possibility to sell foods and beverages that are needed.

Read more about how to import food and beverages into Japan.

  1. Sustainable packaging

Japanese customers have got more conscious about the sustainability of companies. Mass media, brands, and influencers created awareness of environmental issues within the past few years. Consumers are often well-informed about the brands and perform in-depth research before purchasing. According to study of Fabric, eco-friendly packaging can be a crucial element to transform into a brand that is conceived as sustainable.

  1. Healthcare products and equipment

Healthcare products and equipment are highly in demand in Japan with its rapidly aging population. These include pharmaceuticals, medical devices such as pacemakers or implants, health supplements, and more. As a foreign business, this could be a lucrative market to enter if market research is done properly. There are many domestic brands that already dominate the space.

 Conclusion 

Overall, these trends and opportunities indicate that Japan might experience a rise in demand across several industries next year. Foreseeing that can put you one step ahead of your competition as a foreign company seeking access to Japan. By examining the market conditions, you can find business opportunities in Japan for 2023.

 How COVUE Can Help You 

If you wish to enter the Japanese market, we will help you to navigate through the unique business landscape. COVUE’s End-2-End Japan Market Entry Solution provides you with everything you need to expand to Japan now.

payment options japan

 Top 8 Payment Options to Offer as a Business in Japan

The preferred payment option of Japanese people is cash. It has gradually expanded to cashless methods over the past few years. According to ESW, a minority of Japanese people shop cross-border. They decide on merchants who offer payments in the currency yen and domestic payment methods.

By localizing the payment options of your Japanese webshop, you can improve your customer journey and impact purchase-buying decisions.

 Best 8 Payment Methods in Japan 

  1. Cash over the counter

With the third-highest cash usage rate in the world, you will find many local shops, restaurants, and cafes that only accept cash. Small businesses are interested in avoiding high fees of payment providers. Therefore, it is an unwritten rule to always carry a few banknotes always and coins with you. Still, Japanese people consider cash as the safest payment option. Nevertheless, the Japanese government creates incentives to establish trust in cashless options.

  1. Konbini Pay

You will find convenience stores called “Konbini” all over Japan. These shops are open 24/7 and allow customers to pay for invoices, utility bills and more. It’s a beneficial tool in your eCommerce kit as your Japanese customers can pay in cash, their favorite payment method.

Thinking about getting into eCommerce in Japan? Read more

  1. Bank transfer

Most Japanese people own a bank account. They use a bank transfer to pay invoices that they received from a business. Therefore, bank transfers are the preferred method for business transactions. When transferring money to friends or family, they tend to use other payment types.

  1. Credit cards

In the past few years, the adoption of credit cards has increased. According to Global Data, the Japanese government encourages people to use electronic payments. Consumers have become more aware of its advantages, and more sellers are accepting this method. Credit cards are attractive as they come with reward programs. Also, they offer an easy, secure and quick transaction for your customers.

  1. Payment apps

Payment apps such as PayPay, Line Pay, and R Pay offer to pay via a QR code on your smartphone. You can link your bank account or charge the app via ATM, credit cards, and gift cards. This method is a game changer for Japanese people who do not own a credit card. It also provides point incentives, special discounts, and bonus campaigns. This way, they can participate in online shopping and pay cashless at several stores, restaurants, and other places. In addition, some local establishments will only accept this payment method as the fees of credit card providers are too high.

  1. Point cards

At participating stores and restaurants, you can use point cards such as Nanaco, Waon, or Rakuten Edy. You can charge them with cash and earn points every time you make a purchase. That is an attractive benefit for your Japanese customers. They can get discounts on products by redeeming their collected points. With special point campaigns, you can boost your sales, since Japanese customers always look for the best deal.

  1. Transit IC cards

One of the most popular cashless payment options are transit IC cards like Suica and Pasmo. Both are available as a physical card and an app. The majority of Japanese people use these cards to pay for public transportation. However, many shops, vending machines, convenience stores, and restaurants accept them as payment. You can top up these cards at stations, convenience stores or online.

  1. Digital wallets

The acceptance of digital wallets such as Apple Pay and Google Pay has grown. The wallets allow you to pay at different stores and restaurants all over Japan. It uses NFC (near-field communication) or a QR code to proceed the payment by connecting to a transit IC card, credit card, or debit card.

 Conclusion 

Still, the preferred payment method remains to be cash in Japan. However, cashless options have become popular. Various shops, restaurants, and department stores welcome them. They are secure, fast, and convenient. The more options you provide as a business, the more customers you can convert. By adapting your payment methods to local tastes, you can positively influence customer purchase-buying choices.

 How COVUE Can Help You 

We at COVUE help you to integrate local payment options into your Japanese webstore. Besides that, we offer End-2-End Japan Market Entry Solutions. These include eCommerce services, logistics, marketing, and more.

Contact us

 How Do People Celebrate Christmas in Japan? 

Japanese people celebrate Christmas and capture the Christmas spirit in their unique way.

  What do the Japanese traditionally eat on Christmas Day? 

Japan has two famous Christmas dishes:

 1. The Japanese “kurisumasu keki” (Christmas cake) 

Starting in November, you can buy a festive Christmas cake. Throughout Japan, you will find lots of shops offering that special treat. It is a sponge cake with whipped cream and frosting that is decorated with strawberries. This cake is popular on birthdays too and represents the growth of the Japanese economy after World War II.

 2. KFC – Japan’s typical Christmas dish 

Having Kentucky Fried Chicken on Christmas demonstrates the Japanese Christmas spirit like no other tradition. Japanese families enjoy this feast so much that KFC starts taking orders six weeks in advance. People wait for hours in line in front of the stores to receive their meals on Christmas.

 Why is Kentucky Fried Chicken so popular in Japan? 

Takeshi Okaware, the first manager of KFC Japan, had the idea of a “party bucket” for Christmas soon after the company opened in 1970. At that time, he overheard foreigners having a conversation about how they craved their favorite seasonal turkey for Christmas. In 1974, KFC Japan ran an enormous Christmas marketing campaign that led to the tradition of having fried chicken with the family on Christmas.

Creating meaningful memories through marketing can have an impact. By tailoring your content to market needs, you can grow brand equity in Japan.

Read more about content localization and its importance.

 5 Facts About Christmas in Japan 

 1. You will find Christmas illuminations everywhere. 

You can see festive and colorful illuminations in Japan. Lights are on display in department stores, restaurants, and public spaces. The light installations invite couples, families, and people to pass by and be entertained by the lights. In Tokyo or Osaka, you can find event-based illuminations of larger sizes with audiovisual effects.

 2. There is no Christmas gift-giving in Japan. 

Unlike in Western countries, Japanese people don’t treat Christmas as a typical gift-giving day. However, Japanese couples gift each other, and young families might purchase presents for their children.

Read here what are the best gift categories to sell in Japan.

 3. You can enjoy food and drinks at Christmas markets.  

Japanese people host German Christmas markets from the start of the winter season. There you can find beautiful tree ornaments or gingerbread cookies. Famous are the markets in Sapporo and Tokyo.

 4. Japanese people do extensive shopping during the holidays. 

Japanese people don’t buy gifts for Christmas. Instead, they purchase presents for Oseibo and New Year from their yearly salary bonus. Department stores and eCommerce stores promote gift-giving with a wide range of products on discounts. Shopping in Japan is accompanied by Christmas decorations, Santa-themed displays, and joyful carols. The stores create an outstanding customer experience that eases purchasing decisions.

Read more about how you can profit from Japan’s rich gifting culture throughout the year.

 5. Christmas is the most romantic season of the year. 

Japanese couples consider Christmas as one of the most romantic days of the year, right after Valentine’s Day. There are many couples on the 24th and 25th of December who have dinner at restaurants enjoy the illuminations, or shop for presents in department stores. Some families and friends gather for Christmas parties. You might also visit amusement parks such as Tokyo Disneyland and Universal Studios which are known for their festive illuminations and parades.

 Conclusion 

The Japanese Christmas spirit differs from that of other countries. Christmas cakes, special KFC meals, and an emphasis on illuminations, decorations, and events characterize the festive atmosphere. Exceptional experiences are more important than gifts at Christmas. As a seller, it’s crucial to keep an eye on cultural differences to optimize your marketing efforts.

Best Gifts by Category to Sell in Japan

Receiving gifts is as exciting as buying a present for someone. In Japan, gift-giving is an undeniably large part of the culture and follows its own rules. As a foreign seller, it is crucial to take a look behind the curtain and turn it into a selling opportunity.

Let´s explore what your Japanese customers like to buy for family, friends, or colleagues.

1. Apparel

Japanese customers buy clothing like sweaters, cardigans, pajamas, bags, and accessories such as jewelry or watches. Family and friends appreciate thoughtfully selected gifts for personal occasions such as birthdays or Christmas. In particular, luxury items are high in demand, so you can offer them as a seller.

2. Food&Beverages

Foods and drinks are the all-time favorite present to give in Japan. Tea, alcohol, fruits, and other foods are popular whether it is a private or business-related gift-giving situation. You can find a wide range of specialized gift shops in department stores or online. You can buy perfectly-grown fruits for up to 300 dollars or more as a present that will impress your business partners.

3. Souvenirs

Japanese travelers don’t return home empty-handed. They will buy so-called Omiyage for their family, friends, and colleagues. These souvenirs should be typical for the place they have been to. Prices can go up to 40 dollars or more. The commitment to the tradition is so deeply rooted that there are shops online, at the airport, and at train stations with souvenirs from all over the world. If you forgot to purchase a gift for someone, you can find it here.

As a foreign seller, you can leverage sales with these traditions. Read more

4. Confectionery

Sweets and snacks are a popular choice as presents. Local and international cakes, cookies, chocolate, and other confectionery are often sold. They are suitable for business and personal occasions and are available in different price ranges. The Japanese are fond of gift boxes with a good selection, whether they are bought online or offline.

5. Cosmetics & Personal Care

The Japanese are known to take good care of themselves, whether it is through skin care, spa kits, massage tools, or something else. Family and friends appreciate these kinds of gifts for birthdays, Christmas, and other celebrations. You can find holiday-themed gift sets online and in brick-and-mortar stores. As a foreign brand, you might consider selling cosmetics and personal care products through eCommerce.

Find out how you can expand your eCommerce business to Japan.

6. Household items

In Ochugen and Oseibo, people like to give household ware as presents to their family, friends, or colleagues. Furthermore, Japanese people gift these products when they visit someone´s home for the first time. Favorite products include hand towels, indoor decor, cutlery sets, and more. Useful goods of this size are convenient because Japanese homes are smaller than Western ones.

5 Questions on How Japanese Customers Decide on a Present

1. Who is the recipient?

The most important aspect of choosing a present is to make sure it impresses the recipient without offending him. For that reason, consumable products such as food, confectionery, and beverages are common as they aren´t long-lasting.

2. What is the occasion?

For every occasion, you will find a suitable gift in Japan. Whether it´s a private or business matter, the Japanese market offers a variety of options offline and online.

3. What is the price?

Gifting several people in one group at the same time requires smart budget planning. For example, the price of gifts typically given on business occasions reflects the relationship you have with the receiver. Therefore, it shouldn’t be too cheap or too expensive.

4. Where and when can they buy it?

In Japan, you can buy presents online and offline all year long, which makes gift-giving convenient. Various shops offer pre-made gift sets for all occasions.

5. Is the product appealing?

A gift in Japan is of high quality. However, Japanese people often place a higher value on packaging than on the gift itself. To succeed in the Japanese gift-giving market, you need to design products that meet the needs of the Japanese market in terms of presents.

Conclusion

Selling gifts in Japan can be a business opportunity depending on your product category. Japanese people are used to purchasing suitable presents at affordable prices everywhere. Whether it’s for business or private events, giving presents is a custom that continues throughout the year.

Interested in tapping into the Japanese market?

Our bilingual teams at COVUE align your business goals with the conditions of the Japanese market. With our customizable End-2-End Japan Market Entry Services, your business can thrive the way you desire.

Our services include:

  • Importer of Record
  • Market Research
  • Market/ Brand Localization
  • Business Development
  • Post-sale support
  • E-commerce

and more.

Japan gift-giving

How to Profit From Japan’s Gift-Giving Culture as a Foreign Seller

Brands, department stores, and online shops sell gifts all year round. For that reason, it can be a lucrative deal for your business to sell products as presents. You can find gift sets for every occasion, season, or event. Giving and receiving gifts is an important part of Japanese culture. It helps to build relationships and show gratitude to others.

Here is how you can benefit from Japan´s gift-giving culture.

 Is It Common to Give Presents in Japan? 

Japanese culture emphasizes gift-giving. Presents are given for different reasons. Pre-made sets of food, cosmetics, and more are sold the most. As a brand, you can offer such sets to attract customers all year long. Occasions like birthdays, weddings, Valentine´s Day, and Christmas are opportunities for gift-giving. However, seasons such as Ochugen and Oseibo are still more relevant than personal celebrations for gift-giving.

 Do Japanese People Give Gifts at Christmas and on Birthdays? 

Birthday and Christmas presents are not common in Japan. Due to Western influence, young families and people started to exchange gifts. Popular gifts are alcohol, toys, food, cosmetics, electronics, and household appliances.

Here you find more information on what people buy during the holiday season.

 Japan´s Most Common Gift-Giving Occasions 

 Ochugen 

Ochugen is a summer gift-giving tradition. You express gratitude towards elders or people of higher rank. They can include your family, teachers, colleagues, and friends. As presents, you can buy local foods or drinks. Often you wrap them in white with red ribbons that symbolize luck and fortune.

 Oseibo 

You exchange Oseibo gifts in December. It is a way to show appreciation for the favors that you received in the past year. Presents can be given to family, friends, colleagues, suppliers, vendors, and customers. Those gestures include consumable goods such as food, snacks, alcohol, or household items.

 Okaeshi  

Okaeshi is a gesture of appreciation for a gift you received. You thank your coworkers, friends, or family by gifting them. Normally, it costs around half as much as the original present. It can include snacks, soft drinks, household items, or alcohol. These thank-you gifts are given at funerals, weddings, and births.

 Omiyage 

Omiyage is more than an average souvenir for your family, co-workers, and friends. When you return home from traveling, they expect to receive a present. Local items such as snacks, beverages, or handmade things are favored. Prices can range from 500 Yen to 5000 Yen or more. Often, you will find so-called Omiyage shops in train stations or at airports. They sell not only local but also international souvenirs.

 Weddings   

Money is traditionally given to the bride and groom at Japanese weddings. Upon receiving this gift, the giver’s name and the amount are written on the envelope. You can add other wedding presents depending on how close your relationship with the couple is.

 Valentine’s Day and White Day 

Japanese people also celebrate Valentine’s Day with gifts. Chocolate is a gift given to colleagues, family members, or a romantic partner by a woman. On White Day, the male receiver returns the favor with chocolate or jewellery.

 Why Is Gift-Giving Important in Japan? 

Japanese cherish gift-giving as part of their culture. The act of selecting and presenting a gift is often more important than its value. Exquisite decorating of gifts is essential. For example, it´s recommended to use a bag while handing over an unwrapped gift to hide the missing wrapping paper.

Products are often wrapped in fabrics. This traditional wrapping technique is called Furoshiki. It is eco-friendly as you can reuse the fabric to pack future gifts. As a seller, you can offer products packaged as gifts that please the Japanese eye. You can add a bag or decoration. That creates an outstanding experience for the giver and receiver of your products.

 5 Things to Consider When Offering Gifts to the Japanese Market 

According to this article, there are some Do´s and Dont´s when it comes to Japan´s gift giving culture.

  1. Don’t offer gift sets of 4 or 9 items as they are unlucky numbers.
  2. Provide sets of 2, 3, or 8 items as they are considered lucky.
  3. Refrain from the color red as it´s used for funerals.
  4. Choose color schemes that are complementary to Japanese culture, such as pastels.
  5. Research your product class and competition to understand the gift-giving market.

 How COVUE Can Help You We at COVUE understand the cultural nuances of Japan. Our bilingual teams integrate them effectively to scale your business. With our End-2-End Japan Market Entry Services, we provide you with everything you need. Whether you want to get started in Japan or you want to take your business to the next level, we are here to support your business goals. Our services include Importer of Record, a complete eCommerce set-up, fulfillment, marketing and more.

5 Steps to Creating a Memorable Post-purchase Experience in Japan 

A phenomenal post-purchase experience is your chance to stand out from the fierce competition in Japan. As a foreign brand, you can utilize it to leave a great impression on your customers.

That can result in:

  1. More growth in sales
  2. More loyal customers who will buy again
  3. More powerful word-of-mouth marketing

 What Is the Post-purchase Customer Experience? 

It involves every form of interaction that your customers have with your products and brand after the sale.

Let´s discuss how you can design an effective post-sale experience.

 1. Offer Exceptional Customer Service. 

Japanese customers expect a high level of customer support from you. After the sale, they might have questions about your product, its usage, or your brand. Amazon Japan only offers basic customer support that is not adapted to your brand.

The most effective way to handle technical and product-related questions is to set up your customer support with Japanese-speaking personnel. In that case, customers can contact you easily via phone, mail, or chat. All questions can be quickly answered. Your customers will feel valued and trust your brand. Despite that, you encourage them to become repeat buyers and generate more revenue.

 2. Be Proactive and Communicate With your Customers. 

Japanese customers prefer to receive information about products and sales through email. This is a powerful channel to build a personalized customer experience online when you are a foreign eCommerce brand in Japan. Post-purchase emails in proficient Japanese can contain more than just updates about the order.

Saying Thank-You for a purchase, educating them on your products, promoting specially tailored offers, or asking them for feedback helps you to increase sales, customer loyalty, and brand equity. They will feel assured that they made a good decision to buy from you.

3.  Get Reviews and Feedback. 

Japanese consumers are research-savvy and trust peer reviews more than expert opinions. Asking for reviews and feedback after a sale improves your customer journey. Additionally, you can leverage user-generated content like reviews to support the buying decisions of your customers. Japanese society acts more group-oriented. That’s why you can nurture your brand´s acceptance by placing positive peer reviews in front of your customers.

4.  Provide a Point and Reward Program.

Customers in Japan appreciate loyalty programs that reward them after a purchase is made. Amazon Japan and Rakuten offer a point and reward program you can participate in as a foreign eCommerce seller. You can also develop your own program as you grow. Through that, you can build long-term relationships and a community with your consumers, turn them into repeat buyers, and strengthen your brand. For example, you can reward customers when they watch your product videos, frequently purchase, or follow and share your content.

 5. Improve Your Returns and Repair Process   

Clear policies about return and repair services are part of a satisfying post-purchase experience. It´s important to handle returns and repairs properly. That helps you to earn the trust of your customers. For instance, Amazon Japan requires its sellers to provide a return address within Japan. If you can´t provide a return address or repair service in Japan, you will need a provider.

Here’s all you need to know about returns and repairs in Japan.

 Conclusion 

Summarizing these steps, it´s all about satisfying your customers at every touchpoint of their journey. By directly communicating after the sale, offering outstanding customer support, incorporating loyalty programs, improving your return and repair process, and demonstrating your commitment, you can keep your customers satisfied. They will buy again and cherish your brand and products. This can enhance their buying choices and encourage them to recommend your products to family and friends.

 How COVUE Can Help You  

Going the extra mile with your customers´ post-sale experience can maximize your brand´s reputation, get more sales, and attract repeat buyers. We at COVUE are experts on the Japanese market and its customers. With our End-2-End Japan Market Entry Services, we can streamline your business in Japan in terms of Ecommerce, the set-up of an excellent customer experience, Importer of Record, and much more.

Black Friday in Japan

Is Black Friday Sale A Success in Japan?

Does Black Friday exist in Japan? The answer is yes! However, you can´t compare the Japanese version with the American one. The popularity of Black Friday has risen rapidly in the last few years. Therefore, this day has enormous potential for your future sales in Japan.

How Black Friday Became a “Thing” in Japan 

Here is a brief history of Black Friday in Japan:

2014: Toys “R” Us hosted the first Black Friday sales.

2015: The fashion store GAP adopted the concept.

2016: AEON, one of the biggest retail chains in Japan, started a successful campaign with TV commercials and ads in stores.

2019: Amazon Japan officially joined Black Friday with special promotions across various product categories.

Since then, both e-commerce and retail have utilized Black Friday to increase their sales during the holiday season in Japan. Now Black Friday is an event for determined shoppers to get a great deal on a variety of products such as electronics, games, furniture, and more. Additionally, products on sale aren’t just old items that are sitting in stock. Even newer product generations are offered with discounts ranging from 30% to 70%. There are several brands and retailers participating in Black Friday sales, including Amazon, Rakuten, AEON, and UNIQLO. Therefore, it is a smart way to leverage your sales.

Get to know the top 6 product categories of the holiday season.

 Save These Dates for 2022 

Amazon´s Black Friday is on the 25th of November.

Amazon´s Cyber Monday takes place on the 28th of November.

Top 9 Japan Black Friday Facts 

  1. It has become an annual event in November in some stores.
  2. The beginning of Japanese Black Friday can differ from store to store.
  3. Amazon Japan aligns its start of Black Friday with the US.
  4. It does not adhere to a specific duration. It depends on the store.
  5. It can be considered as the start of the holiday sales.
  6. Unlike Americans, Japanese people do not celebrate Thanksgiving the day before Black Friday.
  7. It often offers special bonus points campaigns with rewards for customers.
  8. You can buy limited-edition and Japanese-exclusive items at a low price.

Some retailers started to sell “fukubukuros” (the New Year´s mystery bag) on Black Friday.

Conclusion 

Taking advantage of Black Friday helps you attract customers from the start of the holiday season. With low prices, you can penetrate the market offline and online. It is common for Japanese customers to spend their yearly winter bonuses on highly discounted items from November to January. To unleash your full holiday selling potential, it’s advisable to run different promotions that include Black Friday, Christmas, and New Year´s sales.

How COVUE Can Help You

COVUE can help you streamline your business operations every day of the year. With our End-2-End Japan Market Entry Services, we unlock your business potential in Japan. Our services include eCommerce, Importer of Record, Inbound Logistics, and more.