Top Logistics Companies in Japan

Whether you sell through eCommerce or retail, you will need a reliable freight and logistics partner who can handle your shipments globally – and locally in Japan.

With many international and domestic companies offering a wide range of services, Japan’s logistics market might seem confusing at first glance. However, Japan’s eCommerce market and technological advancements like drones and tracking systems push this industry forward.

Check out the top logistics companies in Japan and how to find the right one.

Do Consumers Impact Japan’s Logistics Industry? Yes!

Since eCommerce took off, the logistics industry has seen a massive shift in consumer demands. Therefore, to ensure a satisfying customer experience in Japan, your logistics partner’s services should align with these expectations:

  • Delivery Tracking
  • Exceptional customer service
  • Sustainable shipping and packaging
  • Flexible payment options
  • Reliable delivery options (Same-Day/Next-Day Delivery)

Dominant Players of the Logistics Industry in Japan

These are the most recognized logistics businesses in Japan. Among them are domestic and international players with significant market shares.

1- Sagawa

With its origins in Kyoto, Sagawa is one of the leading logistics powerhouses. They offer various services like goods transportation, fast shipping, postal delivery, last-mile delivery, and air cargo services. Sagawa also provides third-party logistics solutions, including storage, stock management, and packing assistance. Operating since the middle of the last century, they have collaborated with giants like Amazon and Softbank and deliver door-to-door across over 220 countries.

2- Yamato

Yamato, the direct competitor to Sagawa, processes about 1.8 billion parcels annually within Japan and globally. Their services include regular and express delivery, distribution, packaging, air freight, and transportation of artwork. Founded in Tokyo and expanded across Japan, they have the broadest network in the country. Thousands of fulfillment centers and a capable courier workforce complement the logistics giant’s network of 12 regional and 90 branch offices. Moreover, their stellar customer support is another key component of their competitive advantage in the market.

3- Schenker-Seino

Schenker-Seino is one of the world’s largest and most diverse shipping networks, spanning over 141 countries and more than 2,000 cities. Their broad range of services includes air, sea, and surface forwarding, order fulfillment, eCommerce logistics, warehousing, and customs clearance solutions.

4- FedEx

FedEx, one of the largest logistics companies worldwide, has been operational in Japan since 1984 and gained a strong reputation. They process about 12.5 million packages daily and specialize in domestic eCommerce shipments. Besides that, their scope of services encompasses domestic and international shipping, third-party logistics, express shipments, last-mile delivery, distribution, and reverse logistics. 

5- DHL

Under the Deutsche Post Group, DHL assists businesses in reaching clients in over 220 countries. They offer different services, such as air, sea, and surface freight, shipments of bulk materials, specialized shipping solutions for delicate items, as well as domestic and international shipping. DHL has greatly invested in automation and tracking systems, striving to ensure an excellent customer experience supported by data and technology.

6- Blue Dart

As a division of the Deutsche Post Group, Blue Dart provides domestic and international shipment solutions, express delivery, cross-border eCommerce services, customs clearance, and 3PL services like warehousing, packaging, and temperature-controlled transportation.

7- UPS

UPS is one of the largest logistics companies globally. They provide a wide range of services, including shipping, scheduled pickups, international transportation, freight, customs clearance, and reverse logistics.

8- Nippon Express

Founded in 1937, Nippon Express is a renowned logistics service provider in Japan and worldwide. They offer international shipping via surface, air, and sea, supply chain management, and specialized services like fine art transport, transport of heavy loads, storage solutions, and distribution. They have an expanding international footprint, reaching almost 50 countries across several continents.

9- Japan Post

This company was founded in 2007 in Japan and is known as Japan Post Group. Japan Post has become a leading player in the global shipping industry and is the third-largest postal operator in the world. They offer shipping solutions in addition to banking and insurance services that most Japanese use daily.

How to Find the Right Logistics Partner?

Given the number of options available in Japan, there are essential factors you should consider:

  • Specialization: Every logistics company has its area of expertise. While some companies handle only shipping, others also handle storage, distribution, and customs clearance. Make sure the company you choose meets your needs. 

  • Additional Services: Check if the logistics company offers special solutions, such as insurance, packing, or reverse logistics.

  • Technological Capabilities: Look for a logistics partner who uses the latest technology to ensure fast and hassle-free shipping.

  • English Proficiency: If you’re working with a Japanese domestic logistics company, it’s essential they have English-speaking staff.

  • Track Record: Analyzing past performance and customer feedback can tell you a lot about a logistics partner’s reliability.

  • Expense: Charges vary based on volume and regularity. Ask for quotes from different companies to get the best price.

  • Domestic and International Reach: Remember that some companies might have a broader distribution network either locally or worldwide.

  • Company Policy and Regulations: Understanding the company’s transportation policies is crucial to avoid misunderstandings and complications.

  • Customer Support: If there are problems, having a logistics firm that can assist is vital. Therefore, make sure your partner offers superior customer service and knows how to handle problems with shipments.


Flexible and punctual delivery options are the key to gaining customer loyalty in Japan. For that reason, it is crucial to understand the logistics environment to expand your business to Japan successfully. Intense research and analysis of the different competitors are necessary to choose the right logistics partner and meet the Japanese market’s and its customers’ preferences.  

Looking for a Logistics Partner in Japan?

With COVUE, you can access reliable and efficient logistics solutions such as COVUE JIL or other 3rd-party logistics partners in Japan. With our partners and team, we will ensure your cargo is delivered safely and on time to your customers. 

Sources: Clickpost, Statista, HumbleBunny


How Starbucks Won the Hearts of Japanese Coffee Lovers?

Why is Starbucks so popular and beloved in Japan? Was it a stroke of luck or a carefully crafted marketing strategy? And how did iconic Japanese elements like green tea and sakura cherry blossoms find their way onto their menu?

Let’s discover the story of its first international venture and unravel the secrets behind Starbucks’ success in Japan.

Starbucks’ Joint Venture: A Strategic Expansion to Japan 

Starbucks, the famous coffee shop in Seattle, entered Japan in 1996. This was its first international experience, and the company didn’t embark on the adventure without a proper plan. Instead, they entered into a 50-50 joint venture with Sazaby League, an established retailer and restaurant chain in Japan. This partnership allowed Starbucks to lay a solid foundation in Japan. They leveraged Sazaby’s deep knowledge of the local market, opened stores in several locations, and ended the partnership in 2004.

Today, they own more than 1600 stores across the country.

Starbucks’ triumph in Japan is based on more than its strategic partnership. It’s about how the brand adapted its marketing strategy to create a compelling experience, inviting Japanese to try a new way of enjoying coffee.

They changed the following to adapt to the Japanese market:

  • Smaller serving sizes on the menu because Japanese people are used to smaller portion sizes
  • Lower sugar levels in drinks as consumers prefer them to be less sweet
  • Additional matcha-flavored items on the menu to cater to cultural taste
  • Premium products at a budget-friendly price to target a diverse audience
  • Call customers by a number instead of their name to pick up their order, which respects the privacy

Starbucks recognized early on how crucial research into local preferences and Japanese consumers would be to their success. That set the foundation for why Japanese customers adore the brand today, as Starbucks invested the time and resources to get to know its target audience.

Marketing Strategies That Set Starbucks Apart 

1- Creating a Cozy Living-Room Atmosphere  

Starbucks entered Japan at a time when the coffee scene was dominated by kissaten, small coffee shops reminiscent of tea houses with a simple menu that offered black coffee only. These minimalist but charming establishments were sprinkled throughout Tokyo.

Starbucks went beyond simply serving black coffee and instead aimed to create a completely reimagined café experience. The brand successfully transitioned from being a large coffee chain in America to a personalized, community-oriented coffee shop in Japan. They seamlessly integrated their stores with local culture, as evident in the architectural designs that reflect the beauty of their surroundings. For instance, you can discover the charm of a 100-year-old townhouse in Kyoto or an Edo-era building housing a Starbucks in Saitama. 

Moreover, they differentiated themselves from the kissaten culture by selling high-quality coffee beans from overseas. Also, they prohibited smoking in their stores, despite most Japanese cafes. That didn’t stop people from trying Starbucks. In fact, these strategies led to its popularity as they opened its doors to a more diverse audience. 

Today, Starbucks welcomes students cramming for exams, professionals discussing business, couples on dates, or tourists taking a break.

2- Cherishing Japan’s Seasons through Seasonal Marketing

Starbucks demonstrated an understanding of Japan’s love for seasonal items. For example, Starbucks launches its special and time-limited cherry blossom-themed menu each spring, featuring sakura-flavored drinks, foods, and pink merchandise. In summer, you can find melon- and strawberry-flavored items on the menu, while they serve Christmas-inspired drinks during winter.

3- Starbucks Collaboration with LINE

On the digital front, Starbucks collaborated with LINE, a popular Japanese messaging app. The launch of the digital LINE Starbucks card in 2019 was a game-changer, reaching over a million users in just 2.5 months. They implemented a rewards and order system that allowed customers to accumulate points for purchases and redeem them for free drinks and other rewards. This enabled the company to increase its customer loyalty, leading to more repeat purchases and higher sales. 


Starbucks’ success in Japan can be attributed to its local strategic partnership, understanding of the market, localization of its products and services, and smart use of digital platforms such as LINE. These examples show how powerful a localization and marketing strategy can be if planned and executed properly. With a tailored strategy, you can elevate your brand in Japan and increase brand awareness and loyal customers.

Looking to Enter the Japanese market? 

If your brand is looking to break into the Japanese market, we at COVUE enable you to grow your brand in Japan. Our comprehensive services encompass localization, marketing, and import compliance to ensure a seamless transition into this market.

Sources: Starbucks, Digital Marketing for Asia, Voyapon, Japan Wonder Travel


Fast Fashion Market in Japan: Uncovering Competitive Dynamics

The fast fashion market in Japan is experiencing a skyrocketing popularity. The market size is projected to be over US$50.23bn in 2023. This offers a great business opportunity for foreign brands who wish to expand their business in the country.

However, navigating this industry can be challenging because of its ever-changing trends.

Competitive Dynamics of Japan’s Fast Fashion Market 

To succeed in the Japanese fast fashion market, it’s crucial to understand your target audience’s demographics and preferences. By staying attuned to the ever-shifting consumer demands, you can strategically position your brand to thrive in this dynamic market landscape. 

  • Consumers have become more conscious of sustainable products 
  • They prefer personalized experiences offline and online

Read more about the preferences of Japanese consumers. 

  1. Affordable Style: Renowned international brands like Zara and Shein are offering budget-friendly options.
  2. Trendiness: Brands offer the newest trends from the catwalk delivered to the home of the consumers.
  3. Quick Adaptation: Brands are staying relevant among their competition with special incentives and shopping experiences depending on the market developments.

Retail and eCommerce in Japan’s Fashion World

Japanese fashion markets are a blend of eCommerce and brick-and-mortar stores. While fashion owns 27.8% of Japan’s eCommerce market, physical stores continue to hold a special place in consumers’ hearts. In fact, Japan is known for its unique in-person shopping experiences. Virtual and augmented reality technologies offer fresh ways to engage with customers online and offline.

The Leading Players in the Market

Competition in the Japanese fast fashion market is fierce, with major domestic and international brands competing for attention. You’ll face several challenges as a foreign fashion brand entering the Japanese market. From cultural differences to the challenges of the competition, it’s crucial to have a good strategy.

Homegrown brands like Uniqlo and GU hold a significant market share, while international brands such as H&M and Zara compete alongside them. Other successful brands carve out their niches and offer innovative designs and incentives, like Forever 21 and Shein.

Forever 21 

Forever 21, a well-known fast fashion brand, exited the Japanese market in 2019. They attributed their departure to the intense competition and rapid growth of online shopping.

However, the brand re-entered the market in 2023 with a fresh approach and emphasis on sustainability. Initially, they started with online sales and a showroom-type store in Tokyo. Later this year, they opened their first physical store in Osaka’s LaLaPort shopping mall.

Forever 21 intends to open 15 stores and achieve 10 billion yen in sales by 2028. To help achieve this goal, they collaborated with Adastria Co., a large Japanese apparel company. This collaboration focuses on strategic product planning and marks a shift from fast fashion to offering high-quality and environment-friendly products.


Shein, managed by a Singapore-based Chinese company, is a rising star in the SPA market. To capture the attention of the Japanese market, the brand strategically engaged with Tokyo Girls Collection events and established pop-up shops across the country.

Embracing the Direct-to-Consumer (D2C) model, Shein requires customers to purchase products online via QR codes. As the brand shows its fast growth potential in the Japanese market, its success is evident.


Japan’s fast fashion market presents brands with both opportunities and challenges. To successfully engage Japanese consumers, brands must understand and adapt to their unique preferences. You can create a strong brand presence by staying on top of the latest trends, pushing for innovation, and delivering personalized experiences.

Ready to Expand Your Business? 

Experience exponential brand growth in Japan’s vibrant fashion market with COVUE as your trusted partner. Our market knowledge and expertise guarantee a solid foundation for your brand’s expansion, fostering long-term success and recognition.

Sources: Japan Times, Statista, Asahi, Fibre2Fashion, Global News Wire

japan cashless payments

Japan Turns Digital: The Rising Trend in Cashless Payments 

Japan has long been known to rely heavily on cash for transactions.

However, as Japan progresses and embraces innovation, there has been a significant shift toward cashless payments. In this blog, we’ll explore the trends of contactless payments in Japan.

Types of Cashless Payments in Japan  

  1. IC Cards:

ICOCA, Suica, and Pasmo are some of the most popular IC cards and offer contactless transactions. The cards are rechargeable, and you can use them for public transportation and at different stores.

  1. Mobile Payment Apps:

Smartphone-based apps use QR codes or barcodes when buying. You can find apps like PayPay, LINE Pay, and Rakuten Pay in Japan. These applications offer rewards, cashback, or discounts.

  1. Digital Wallets:

Digital wallets provide secure payments via smartphones or smartwatches by using NFC technology. Widely used are Apple Pay and Google Pay.

  1. Credit Cards:

Japan’s most common cashless payment method is credit cards. JCB, Visa, and Mastercard are popular, and they come with rewards and incentives.

Does Japan become cashless? Yes! 

Japan’s transition to a cashless society was outlined in the “Cashless Vision”. The Ministry of Economic, Trade, and Industry (METI) developed it in 2018 and anticipates that 40% of transactions will be cashless by 2025. Due to the pandemic, cashless payment transactions have witnessed significant growth over the past year.

According to Shuji Kobayakawa, an economist at Meiji University in Tokyo, “more people avoid handling coins.” Moreover, the government encourages cashless shopping by giving reward points to anyone registering for My Number personal identity cards. 

Not just that!

Recently, Japan loosened its COVID-19 entry requirements, and expectations about the economic benefits of tourism have increased. Cashless options are beneficial to support tourism as travelers from other countries are used to contactless transactions. For these and other reasons, more and more Japanese customers use cashless methods, as you can see from the growth usage in 2022:

  • QR code payments increased by 50%
  • Credit card payments increased by 16%
  • e-money payments increased by 2%

Salary payments go cashless!

The Japanese government plans an online salary payment system without using bank accounts by spring 2023. This system aims to solve foreign workers’ payment issues, reduce bureaucracy, and support economic growth. Despite this, only 30 percent of businesses are considering digital salary payments right now, according to a survey conducted by Works Human Intelligence. That shows some sort of resistance to the changes. The government will have to create even more incentives in the future to promote cashless transactions.

With this rising trend, how can you use this as an opportunity to grow your brand?

 Here are some ideas:

  • Offer incentives like cashback and point awards for specific payment methods, as Japanese people love collecting points and receiving rewards.
  • Provide cashless payment options in your online store (e.g., credit cards, e-wallets, prepaid cards) that align with local preferences.
  • Ensure secure, reliable, and user-friendly payment systems that increase customer satisfaction and loyalty to drive sales.

Read more about the TOP 8 payment options in Japan.


Japan’s move toward a cashless society changes consumer and business interactions. As a business selling in Japan, you must be aware of these ongoing trends to adjust and provide a variety of payment choices to meet consumer expectations.

Need help setting up your cashless payment methods?

COVUE’s payment solutions allow unrestricted access to most payment options in Japan. We help you to set these up so that you can capture more paying Japanese customers.

Sources: ; ;

Japan's Top Social Media Platforms in That Can Help You Grow Your Brand

Japan’s Top  Social Media Platforms That Can Help You Grow Your Brand

Social media has become essential to modern-day communication and information-sharing worldwide, and Japan is no exception. Did you know that by 2023 the number of social media users is expected to reach 102 million? That’s 81.1% of the population! Moreover, 50% of Japanese users own 3 or more social media accounts across different platforms.

Let’s take a look at the top social media platforms in Japan, their popularity among Japanese users, and how they can help you grow your business.  

Social Media in Japan

In Japan, social media has its unique history, with local platforms like Mixi, Gree, and Mobage dominating the market in the early 2000s. However, more popular and user-friendly social media platforms such as Line, Twitter, and Instagram replaced these platforms.

Mobile users reign social media in Japan, with around 98% of them accessing the platforms through their smartphones.

The gender distribution of social media users in Japan is relatively equal, with around 46,7% of users being male and 53.3% being female. More than 87.68 million users are 18 years old and above.

Japan Social media

 Top 6 Social Media Platforms in Japan in 2023 

  1.  LINE

LINE is a messaging app that has become one of the most popular social media platforms, with over 94.17 million monthly active users in Japan. You can find users of all ages, but most are teenagers and young adults. Furthermore, the app is known for its cute stickers and emojis that Japanese people love sending each other.

LINE is an all-in-one digital platform with numerous other features that make it worthy of its super app titles, such as Timeline, LINE Today, LINE Pay, LINE Games, LINE TV, LINE Mango, and LINE shopping. As Japan’s top social media platform, it is a go-to platform for businesses to reach their customers.

  1.  Twitter

Twitter is a social media platform in Japan with over 68.85 million monthly active users. All age groups are active on Twitter, especially young adults. Twitter is used for a wide range of purposes in Japan, including news, entertainment, and business. Interestingly, more than 70% of Japanese Twitter users use pseudonyms because of their high level of reservedness. Through their anonymous Twitter accounts, Japanese people can share their true opinions on news and trends and engage with Japanese celebrities and politicians who interact with their audience through social network.

Often you will find discussions on products on the platform because Japanese consumers find that reviews on websites aren´t truthful often. For that reason, they use Twitter as a search engine to see what real people are saying about specific items. Businesses can learn more about consumers’ preferences from these discussions and advertise products accordingly. 

  1.  Instagram: 

Instagram is a photo-sharing app that has become popular with over 56.43 million monthly active users in Japan. In addition to sharing photos of their daily lives, they use Instagram to share food, travel, and fashion content. There are people of all ages who use it, but the majority are women. They post visually appealing content such as reels, stories, or pictures.

Brands in Japan like to work with Japanese influencers as they have developed a following that actively interacts and engages with them. Moreover, these influencers know how to leverage the platform features to advertise products through their Instagram stories or reels. Besides that, building relationships with consumers and using Instagram ads, reels, and stories benefits businesses in the fashion, beauty, and travel industries and increases their revenue and brand awareness.

  1.  YouTube: 

YouTube is a video-sharing platform with over 102 million monthly active users. Japanese people use YouTube to watch music videos, comedy shows, dramas, and other content, stay updated on topics they’re interested in, and find new trends. People of all ages use the platform, mainly teenagers and young adults. They can share long-form and short-form videos to gain traction.

In Japan, called VTubers, or virtual YouTubers made with motion-capture technology, are a growing trend. In 2016, Kizuna Ai became one of the first virtual YouTubers to be called “VTuber”. Industries, including music, entertainment, food, fashion, and education, can engage users through anime content, Vtubers or branded characters. As a brand, you can make good use of these trends on YouTube in your content creation or collaboration with Youtubers to nurture and connect with your target audience and turn them into customers.

  1.  Facebook: 

Facebook is a social networking site that has been around for over a decade. It has over 48.27 million monthly active users in Japan. Japanese people, mostly middle-aged adults, connect privately and professionally on this platform. You can share long messages (posts) and short videos on Facebook.

Facebook is a more successful B2B marketing platform than LinkedIn in Japan. LinkedIn is viewed as an employment search engine, while Facebook is used as a business networking platform. Japanese business owners over 40 make up a larger portion of Facebook’s user base and are highly active there. For that reason, advertisements on Facebook can be a powerful tool for B2B businesses to reach potential customers and increase conversion rates of B2B products and services.

  1.  TikTok 

TikTok is a video-sharing platform in Japan with 17 million users and growing. It encourages engagement and viral sensations among users, making it popular among younger audiences who spend up to 45 minutes on the app. While it may be challenging to integrate TikTok into your digital marketing strategy, it offers a potential advertising channel for brands targeting the teen and young adult demographic.

To market your brand on TikTok, you have to create engaging content that resonates with its audience and collaborate with popular influencers. TikTok’s hashtag challenges, UGC (user-generated content), and in-feed ads are excellent formats for increasing brand visibility and connecting with younger audiences.


With a significant number and unique platforms that cater to the needs of Japanese users, social media in Japan presents an opportunity for businesses to reach out to potential customers and build relationships with them. You can create effective social media strategies by understanding how each platform works, who it attracts, and how Japanese people are active on social media. That will increase the impact of your brand on the market. Yet, you have to keep in mind that the localization of your content and strategy in Japanese is key to succeeding in your marketing efforts.

Read more about the importance of content localization in Japan.

Looking to establish a powerful brand presence on social media in Japan?  

As your local operating partner, COVUE provides End-2-End Japan Market Entry Services to help you achieve that goal. Our team of experts in marketing, branding, and localization can assist you in creating a robust brand presence on various Japanese social media platforms.

Foreign Beauty Brands in Japan

Foreign Beauty Brands in Japan: What You Can Learn From Their Success 

Japan’s beauty and personal care industry is both saturated and highly profitable, with many business opportunities for new market entrants. There are not only domestic but also international brands competing. Over the years, brands like L’Oréal, Missha, and Estée Lauder have written their success stories. They turned skeptical customers into loyal brand advocates.

TOP 3 Foreign Beauty & Personal Care Brands in Japan

  1. Unilever PLC (e.g. Dove and Vaseline)
  2. L´Oreal S.A. (e.g. Kiehl and Lancome)
  3. Proctor & Gamble Company (e.g., Gilette and Braun)

Here’s what you can learn from them to succeed in the market.

  1. Getting a grasp of the market

Indeed, understanding the dynamics of the Japanese market is crucial for foreign businesses looking to establish a presence. However, with a growing market size in the beauty and personal care industries, it is no surprise that many foreign companies continue to see Japan as a lucrative market to expand in. According to Statista, the beauty and personal care market will be US$40.62bn worth in revenue in 2023. Over time, foreign companies learned how to sell here successfully.

Today, local brands such as Shiseido or Kanebo dominate the market next to international companies such as L’Oréal or Estée Lauder, with some of the most successful foreign brands hailing from France, South Korea, the US, China, and Thailand. The top-selling category is skin care, followed by make-up, hair, and men’s care.  This means high demand for products such as lotions, essences, and beauty tools.

  1. Understanding the consumer

Understanding the Japanese consumer and their tastes is vital. Successful foreign brands take advantage of extensive research and adapt products. Customers wish for smooth and fair skin without imperfections. Because of that, products with anti-aging, skin-brightening, and moisturizing effects are popular. They are part of the Japanese product-layering skincare ritual.

Cosme, the biggest beauty product comparing website in Japan, scrapes its visitor data yearly. They rank the most popular items and brands in each category. Among these rankings are established companies from abroad. In 2023, foreign brands and their products are on that list, such as Kiehl’s moisturizing “Ultra Facial Cream”, Lancome’s cleansing “CKARIFIQUE DUAL ESSENCE LOTION,” or Estée Lauder’s anti-aging “Advances Night Repair Synchronized Multi-Recovery Complex.” These products gained popularity as they provided the customer with what they desired.

Read more about where consumers buy beauty products in Japan.

  1. Riding on the wave of trends and making a difference

The market is driven by intense competition, where companies strive for constant innovation to stay ahead of the game. To stand out in this market, foreign businesses can consider targeting specific niches that offer unique value propositions such as multipurpose, high-performance, and personalized beauty products. Japanese consumers look for expertise and high-quality products in brands. Products should suit their skin and needs. For example, Vaseline has a product range to target customers with different skin conditions. Lancome offers services that analyze the skin through artificial intelligence (AI) and find suitable products.

Additionally, Estée Lauder provides online consultations for customized beauty treatments. Cutting-edge products and technology form an engaging customer-brand relationship.

 Kiehl is a skincare brand known for their dermatologist approach with herbs as components. Their most popular products include whitening and moisturizing creams.

Another established company is Chanel. The luxury fashion brand branched out into the beauty industry. They took time to understand their potential customers. That is why Chanel started to combine innovation and high-end quality. One of the results is the successful launch of a whitening skincare line called Le Blanc. It addresses the Japanese consumer’s desire for fair skin.

As a company seeking access to this highly competitive market, it is crucial to do market research. That helps you spot niche markets and turn them into business opportunities. By taking advantage of the niche areas, foreign businesses can increase their chance of success in this highly competitive Japanese market.

  1. Giving it a Japanese twist

While having good products and a compelling brand story are important, they alone do not guarantee success in the Japanese market. It is crucial for foreign businesses to localize their brand and tailor it to meet the tastes and preferences of Japanese consumers. This includes ensuring that product claims comply with Japanese laws and providing translations of product descriptions into Japanese to build brand trust.

Utilizing a Japanese-language website, partnering with local influencers, and engaging in social media marketing can also help to boost the brand’s reputation in the market.

Additionally, offering limited-edition items during different seasons can drive sales and increase brand visibility in the Japanese market. 

Read more about how you can leverage content localization when selling in Japan.

The Korean brand Missha understood to create one desirable product. It is a compact product called the “Missha M Magic Cushion.” It quickly became a fundamental beauty product for Japanese women to cover skin imperfections. Missha used clever influencer and social media marketing. Furthermore, they sold it directly to the customer via eCommerce to gain traction.

Another critical step is to design the product experience around the consumer and their environment. When Estée Lauder expanded to Asia, including Japan, they experienced it firsthand. Their products did not consider that Japanese consumers find thick creams too sticky in summer. That is why the brand created products that were suitable for different seasons. They became a success. In some cases, Japanese consumers may dislike the smell or ingredients of a product. The brand Braun offers men’s and women’s care products, such as shaving tools that suit their skin and provide the results Japanese consumers wish. For example, Japanese men prefer a completely clean, shaved face, e.g., due to their workplace.


Overall, there are numerous success stories of foreign brands in Japan. A common ground for success is a deep understanding of consumers and their needs followed by products that feel good and effective on the skin and marketing that persuades the right customers. Japanese people strive for brands that care about their customers.

Ready to scale up your business in Japan?

Selling directly on eCommerce platforms with a niche product and a smart strategy support your market entry to Japan. COVUE, as your local operating partner, offers End-2-End solutions that complement your goals for 2023.

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.


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 Market Entry: Why is it difficult

Considering Japan as the 3rd largest economy in the world, it should come as no surprise that more and more companies are expanding into Japan in order to tap into this lucrative consumer market.

Japan is a leading center for innovation, boasting a highly attractive business and living environment within one of the world’s largest economies. A survey by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) found that Japan has a stellar reputation among Western and Asian companies, which are attracted by its R&D capabilities, personnel, and well-developed laws, such as intellectual property rights.

Many companies are also pulled to Japan’s shores because of its developed consumer base. The huge market is a trendsetter among regional economies and is utilized by many businesses as a test location.

Some 49% of businesses say Japan is an attractive as a test market, and 40.5% say it offers a good environment for business expansion.

 But, Japan continues to be one of the most difficult and challenging countries for market entry. The number of regulatory hurdles and cultural factors can make Japan a difficult country to penetrate. Having local help can be a big asset when expanding into the country.

Here are some of the challenges that you will have to face in order to succeed.

Starting a business
The process can be draining when starting a business in Japan. It is important to navigate the regulations and bureaucracy.

The most obvious obstacle to doing business in Japan and/or with Japanese companies and consumers is language. If you plan to actually have discussions with potential business partners or customers, you’ll require a trained, experienced Japanese interpreter. This person needs to have an intimate knowledge of Japanese culture and traditions.

Relationships drive business in Japan, and it is important to show the right level of respect and to be polite and diplomatic at all times. Patience is essential when handling business relations, and observing local etiquette in terms of gift buying is important.

Gaining trust and respect
Japanese consumers and businesspeople expect integrity and high quality products and services. Gaining trust and respect can take some time, whether you’re forming a business relationship or selling a product to Japanese consumers

Market Entry in Japan

Having local help on board is essential in order to be successful in Japan Market Entry. Don’t know where to start? We can help!

COVUE is a trustworthy Japanese company that has import licenses for many product categories. Let COVUE’s regulatory experts help you to speed up the market entry process so can that you can focus on your business. We’re here to help! It’s what we do best!