If it is for Japan or otherwise, there are certain things your company needs to do to launch your business in a new market.
The first and the most important step is market research. This step sets the foundation for all the other business activities that will follow after. Then activities like manufacturing, localizing the product, marketing, PR, and sales follow. The question is, how should companies go about this?
Imagine this, if you are trying to enter the Japanese market from a western country, and your original culture has no crossing point with Japan at all, "guessing" about how Japanese consumers would behave as well as interacting with them in a sales ( or business) context might feel impossible.
This is why hiring a Japanese local market expert is recommended, so that they can guide you through the process of adopting and "japanizing" your business. Today in this blog post, we will talk about what it means to hire a local expert at each stage:
1) Market research
Japan market experts, consultants, or agencies contain more knowledge about the market off the bat. They understand the Japanese culture, consumers' psychology, behaviors, spending habits because they are also in the consumer pool. Furthermore, multicultural Japanese market experts or agencies can explain the dynamics of the Japanese market from the eyes of Westerners.
Additionally, these experts will know how to look for information a foreign company is looking for and give guidance, making the process more efficient.
Next, let's talk about localization. Let's say you are done with the market research and gain some overview understanding of the Japanese market as well as specific information about your industry, now it is time to think about how to sell the products. The very important part of this question relies on your sales & marketing plans but there is also localization. You have to be asking yourself questions like: "Would I keep the packaging design?" "Would I publish the same ads in the Japanese market?" "Could Japanese consumers understand and relate to the US branding we use in the USA market?"
Let's take a snack package as an example.
The international long sellerJapanese snack Pocky produced by the Ezaki Glico food company was first introduced in 1966.
In the US, pocky is sold at Costco, many Asian markets, and in the Asian or ethnic section of many grocery and mass stores including Walmart, Target, Safeway, Kroger, and Publix.
In Japan, Pocky is sold at pretty much any store with a snack section including convenience stores, supermarkets, department stores in grocery sections, etc...
However, there are differences in the design of the packaging.
In the case of Pocky ( the snack produced by a Japanese corporation, now sold in the USA) kept the design of the package relatively similar - this is perhaps why Pocky still remains a strong association as an Asian snack in America.
The package design needs to take account of appealing to the Japanese consumers, and include easy-to-understand information about the product.
All the above points are a lot easier to check if you have a Japanese market expert who can tell you the answers to those things.
3) PR / Marketing / Advertisement
As a foreign company, it is natural to not know how to make a marketing plan toward the Asian market. Things like what media should I reach out to publish press releases for my business launch? Where should I be spending my money on advertisement and marketing efforts in the Japanese market concerning my product or service? These are questions you need to be asking yourself.
Again, Japanese market experts, consultants, or agencies can help answer these questions with insights filled with authentic information about the Japanese market and consumers.
As I mentioned above, there are a few forms in hiring a local expert.
One way is to hire a Japanese consultant who is knowledgeable about the Japanese market ( the most affordable option) who can guide your team through the process of researching, creating strategies, and executing the plan.
the 2nd way is to hire a Japanese agency and a project manager like ForeignConnect who can help you to communicate and work with the local agency.
the 3rd way is to find a Japanese market specialized agency in your country.