Japanese people and people worldwide enjoy Hanami (viewing flowers) at over 1000 locations from Okinawa to Hokkaido. As spring approaches, business is booming in Japan, and you’ll see crowds admiring cherry blossoms near busy shopping streets.
Hanami – Cherry Blossom in Japan
Hanami is the famous tradition of viewing cherry blossoms. The peak season lasts from late March to early April. Enjoying cherry blossoms with friends, family, and coworkers is a popular tradition. Other activities include walking, hiking, riding boats, listening to music, and watching performances. You can find Sakura (cherry blossom) in parks, on hiking paths, along river sides, at temples and shrines, and other places all over Japan. Close by are usually small temporary shops that offer beverages and special lunch boxes.
On weekends, people gather for an entire day to spend a good time together. In the evening, there are often illuminated cherry blossom trees that create a unique atmosphere at night. These short moments of beauty represent the fading nature of the blossom. You can take the meaning of this Japanese event and interpret it as the celebration of every second of life. That is because nothing lasts forever, and you should enjoy every moment to the fullest. These values have deep roots in Japanese culture.
How businesses make a profit during the Sakura season
You may ask how you can translate this traditional and short-lived occasion into business practices that you can profit from.
The food and beverages market leverages this special event throughout March and April. They offer lunch boxes for the Hanami picnics, Sakura-flavored snacks and drinks, and limited editions of specific products. You can find these in department stores, online, or small shops. Additionally, people look for outdoor goods such as dishes, warm clothes, blankets, and more.
Various brands offer special editions or Sakura-themed products like Coca-Cola with their Sakura-edition packaging. They know how crucial it is to integrate cultural events into their marketing strategies. Whether you sell cosmetics, souvenirs, or other products, you can create a buzz around your brand in Japan by adapting your website, packaging, and products to the season. Your Japanese customers appreciate it when domestic and international brands participate in the ever-changing seasons. Moreover, you can increase your sales with attractive time-limited offers, limited editions, and special products that are a one-off deal.
Read more about how you can profit from Japanese events and seasons.
Understanding Hanami and other Japanese cultural events are essential to successfully doing business in Japan. Tailoring your products to these special occasions allows you to build a stronger relationship with your customers, promote your product launches, increase sales, and gain brand attention.
Need help scaling your brand in the Japanese market?
We at COVUE understand Japanese culture and know how to navigate through the dynamics of the market. As your strategic operating partner, we provide tailored guidance and complementary End-2-End solutions to help you scale your business in Japan.
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
Unilever PLC (e.g. Dove and Vaseline)
L´Oreal S.A. (e.g. Kiehl and Lancome)
Proctor & Gamble Company (e.g., Gilette and Braun)
Here’s what you can learn from them to succeed in the market.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Japan has a growing confectionary market, offering a wide range of sweets and desserts that are both delicious and visually appealing.
Discovering the Sweet Side of Business: Exploring the Rich Opportunities in Japan’s Confectionary Market
Japan’s confectionery industry’s market size is estimated to be worth over $173.40 in 2023. The country has a strong culture of sweets that have been a staple of its food scene for centuries.
Key players in the market include major confectionary companies such as Meiji Seika, Morinaga, and Lotte.
There are several emerging trends that companies can take advantage of.
Emerging Trends that businesses can take advantage of
1. Traditional Japanese Confectionery: Wagashi (traditional Japanese sweets) and Mochi (rice cakes) continues to be popular in Japan and overseas. It is essential to consider the steady demand for traditional and regional sweets while the consumption of international confectionery increases. Businesses can take advantage by selling unique and authentic products that match consumers’ tastes and interests.
2. Western-style Confectionery: The market for Western-style sweets, such as cakes and pastries, is expanding in Japan. Companies can capitalize on this growth by introducing new and innovative products that cater to local tastes.
3. Health and Wellness: Japanese consumers are becoming more conscious of their health. That does not imply they want to refrain from eating confectionery. Instead, they prefer natural products with good nutrients that satisfy their sweet tooth. Recently, chocolate has been promoted to have positive effects on the body. Additionally, Suntory plans to offer custom-made gummies that benefit health. Companies can tap into this trend by offering healthier and functional sweets that cater to the needs of health-conscious consumers.
4. Regional Specialties: Japan is known for its diverse regional specialties and confectioneries. Companies can take advantage of this by offering regional sweets and desserts that showcase the unique tastes and traditions of different areas of Japan.
5. Creative and Unique Packaging: Consumers are looking for visually appealing packaging, especially for gifts and special occasions. They care about neat and attractive packaging. They gift each other on different occasions and events throughout the year. That´s why brands keep selling limited editions or specially-designed products. A good example is the Animal Crossing-themed chocolate box for Valentine’s Day offered by Godiva. Whether it is event-themed or a souvenir, the favorite gifts to give are snacks in Japan. You can leverage your business by creating unique packaging options that stand out from the competition.
6. Eco-friendly and sustainable. The Japanese market is becoming increasingly aware of environmental issues, and many consumers are looking for eco-friendly packaging options. Companies can differentiate themselves by offering environmentally responsible packaging options.
7. Online Sales and Delivery: Online sales and delivery of confectionary products are growing in Japan, driven by the convenience and accessibility of online shopping. Companies can leverage this trend by offering online ordering and delivery options to reach a wider audience.
Planning to enter the eCommerce industry in Japan, such as Amazon or Rakuten, or even build your own website? Take a look at this.
8. Cafe Partnerships: Japan’s cafe culture continues to grow, offering a unique opportunity for businesses to showcase their products and reach customers. Companies can open cafes and patisseries or partner with existing cafes to offer their products.
9. Premium and Gourmet Products: Japanese consumers are known for their appreciation of premium and high-quality ingredients. Luxury sweets are a niche market. The Japanese consumer perceives artisan confectionery as a high-end product. Therefore, they are willing to pay a higher price. Chocolate remains to be one of the top-selling products in this category. However, you can also offer gummies, pastilles, jellies, or other sweets that taste exceptional. That can help you to get a competitive edge over Lotte, Morinaga, Godiva, or Lindt.
In conclusion, the Japanese confectionary market constantly evolves, with new trends always emerging. Companies can take advantage of these trends by offering products and experiences that cater to the needs and desires of consumers.
This is the right time to enter the confectionery market in Japan!
Consumers are constantly seeking new and exciting confectionery options. However, aligning your offerings with current market trends is important to succeed in the Japanese market. Navigating these rapidly changing trends can be challenging, especially for newcomers.
COVUE can support you! We have extensive experience in the food industry in Japan and can support you every step of the way! From compliance to market entry to strategy and execution, we’re here for you!
Feel free to connect with us so we can discuss opportunities together!
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.
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.
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.
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.
Language 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.
Culture 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!