10 things to know about digital marketing in Japan 

Anna Wildman

When entering the Japanese market

Launching in a new market is never easy, especially when it comes to digital marketing. Marketing in a foreign country requires a solid understanding of the local market, culture, and language. Below is a list of 10 things you need to know when launching your digital marketing campaign in Japan. 

Understanding the market landscape 

1)  Consider the population of Japan

Japan has a population of about 127 million people, with those aged 65 and over making up the largest percentage of the population. The country is expected to become a super-aged society ahead of the rest of the world. This distinction is helpful when building audience personas.

2) Understand the size of the advertising market

The total advertising spend in Japan in 2020 was about 6 billion yen. Internet spend overtook TV for the first time in 2019, and in 2020 digital advertising accounted for 36% of total spend while TV accounted for 27%. Within digital advertising, desktop accounts for about 30 percent of the spend, while mobile accounts for about 70%. 

3) Learn the needs of Japanese consumers

When entering a new market, the first thing you need to do is figure out what your consumers’ needs are. When it comes to SEO, it's important to plan your strategy based on the keywords found on  Google Adwords and Search Console. For social platforms, using social listening tools to analyse mentions and posts is also effective.

4) Get to know your local competitors

As with consumer needs, you need to research your local competitors’ digital marketing efforts. SEO is all about comparing search results and target queries. With social media, we recommend that you use social listening tools to monitor the performance of your competitors.

Understanding the culture

5) Learn about internet trends

According to SimilarWeb, Yahoo! Japan is the most viewed news media site in Japan. For travel, the websites Jalan and Rakuten Travel are the most popular. Each industry has its own characteristics that are unique to Japan. In addition to this, blogging platforms such as Note (equivalent to Medium) and Ameblo are very popular in Japan. Arming yourself with this information will help you with display advertising and media buying.

6) Learn about social media and app trends

In Japan, as with many countries in the West and Asia, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube are popular. TikTok is also gaining momentum, especially among the younger generation. Unique to Japan is the usage of "LINE", a communication app similar to Whatsapp, which is used by 86 million people in Japan alone. 

In addition to messaging, the app offers various other services such as banking and shopping. It is also a news aggregator and streaming service, providing daily articles and access to songs, manga, live videos, games, and more. Businesses can also create ‘Official Accounts’ that allow them to interact with their customers directly. Understanding LINE and other social channels is necessary for building effective social media and content marketing strategies.

7) Understand the Japanese aesthetic

Quite frankly, Japanese website design is completely different to the West. There is usually a lot of text, which may seem a bit busy to those who are not used to it. This may be due to several factors, but it seems to be a reflection of differences in language systems, which we will explain later, as well as a cultural tendency to prefer detailed explanations.

Understanding the local language

8) Understand the differences in language systems

There are three notation systems in Japanese (hiragana, katakana, and kanji). It is a much more complex system compared to the alphabet, so native support is always necessary. We highly recommend that you consult a Japanese-native expert in blog writing, copywriting, and UX writing.

9) Know keyword complexity 

As previously mentioned, written Japanese is very complex. With regard to SEO, there are multiple ways to write and select keywords. We advise developing a strategy with a team that includes both bilingual and native speakers.

10) Identify copy that appeals to a Japanese audience 

As with design, Japanese people tend to prefer "descriptive copy". We advise consulting with a team of both bilingual and native speakers on this as well, as there are local rules, regulations, and cultural sensitivities.

TAMLO's bilingual and native staff members are here to support companies wishing to target the Japanese market through content marketing. Whether its marketing strategy creation, online advertising management or content localisation, we're here to help. Please don’t hesitate to contact us


Anna Wildman

Content Strategist


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to get in touch.