WPIC Marketing + Technologies Logo
Close this search box.

What should brands know about the Japanese e-commerce market and what makes it unique?

As more and more of the world has entered the digital space in the last few decades, consumers have evolved to perform most of their activities online. Perhaps more than any other aspect of life, consumer behaviour has been specially altered by the Internet; online shopping is now how billions of people the world over obtain goods and services. 

The introduction of e-commerce has led to the establishment of new purchase systems and while as a whole, the influence of e-commerce is similar around the globe, many trends pinpoint the difference between the average e-commerce consumer. Japan’s e-commerce marketing trends, for example, differ materially compared to those found in Western societies.

Today, Japan has emerged as one of the most rapidly growing e-commerce markets. The country has already experienced major growth and continues to expand as the years progress with a reported 137.6 billion dollar e-commerce industry in 2016. Due to the unique makeup of the population in Japan, there are many Japanese e-commerce marketing trends that differ significantly when compared with Western countries. 

Uniformity of language and culture 

Within Japan, almost the entire population — about 99 per cent — speaks the native language. This differs materially from several other developed countries, including Canada and the United States, where citizens can be found speaking an array of distinct languages. Consumers in the Japanese market respond much more positively to campaigns based on localization and connection to the individual culture. This more specific approach is important to them because it familiarizes them with content which, in turn, leads to increased comfortability as they browse and, ultimately, buy the goods and products offered. 

Layout and design

Another prominent difference arising in Japan’s e-commerce marketing trends can be instantly recognized when looking over popular e-commerce pages. They differ significantly from Western e-commerce sites in terms of layout and activity. Japanese e-commerce sites tend to be much busier with complex layouts that include a lot of information packed into small spaces. This is completely different from the Western preference of minimalistic design that utilizes a lot of white space between pockets of information. The presentation of products with this preference in mind is crucial to engaging Japanese consumers. 

It is very common, for example, to see extensive content that includes high-definition photos, staged settings, and in-depth models, which have all been included specifically to target the Japanese consumer. They require these sites to list all information about the offered products by way of descriptions and visuals – far more so than Western online shoppers – to have full insight into purchases. Therefore, many operators of e-commerce sites in Japan have specifically designed their web pages to align with the preferences and expectations of the country’s general population.

Brands looking to target these netizens would be wise to approach the market with Japan’s distinct e-commerce trends in mind.