By Mao A.
In Japan, the cherry blossoms are in full bloom in March and April and this period is also when a new chapter in life begins for many people. Unlike the UK or other foreign countries, the new semester in Japanese schools starts in April, not September. Many people step forward to start their new lives, entering higher education, starting jobs, changing jobs, moving to new places, and so on. This new phase in life is called Shinseikatsu, which can be directly translated to ”new life.” This article aims to explore the many marketing campaigns conducted by companies in Japan that take advantage of Shinseikatsu and will explore how EU companies may integrate it into their marketing activities in Japan.
Why Shinseikatsu is a chance for marketing
There are two main reasons why Shinseikatsu is a chance for marketing. First, since it is the time of the year to start a new life, many move to their new houses and are in need of furniture, home appliances, and home decor goods. Secondly, many companies running “New Life Support Campaigns” around this time inevitably leads to a drop in the price of furniture and home appliances. Therefore, even those who are not relocating or do not have drastic changes in their environment spend more on even those who are not relocating or do not have drastic changes in their environment spend more to refresh their home décor.
In fact, according to a household survey published by the Japan Statistics Bureau, household consumption in March anIn fact, according to a household survey published by the Japan Statistics Bureau, household consumption in fiscal 2019 scored highest in March and April, followed by December, followed by December. In particular, consumption of furniture, home appliances, and miscellaneous goods is expected to increase during this period of time. In 2020, the pandemic caused a drop in consumption in April but, although the situation in 2022 is still far from what things were like pre-COVID, companies are working on sales for the new normal.
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Four new life support marketing campaigns in Japan
In recent years, many companies have started to run campaigns and promotions on social media platforms such as Twitter and Instagram, not to mention on the streets, in TV commercials, newspapers, and magazines. This is because, in Japan alone, the number of social media users amounts to almost 91 million as of 2020, and it is the easiest and most convenient way to reach out to consumers.
Timberyard is an interior design company whose Scandinavian-style furniture is popular. Consumers who prefer these clean, minimalistic designs want to have this furniture in their family room, and it is popular with people of all ages, but mostly those who buy their own home and coordinate their furniture as they like, rather than students. Instead of giving away gifts through social media by tracking [alternatively, leveraging] post follows or likes, Timberyard used social media as a platform to announce the sale.
The “Seven Chairs Campaign” offers the chance to buy four of Timberyard’s “Seven Chairs”, a type of chair that is typical of Scandinavia and Denmark, for the price of three. They are not only comfortable, but also makes the atmosphere of the room feel neat and tidy. Many people like to place them in gathering spaces, especially dining rooms.
Timberyard’s Seven Chairs campaign kills two birds with one stone: it raises the recognition of the Seven Chairs, which are still relatively little-known in Japan, and it offers consumers a bargain. In addition, the campaign has a longer duration than a regular social networking campaign. While most social networking campaigns are short, the Seven Chairs campaign ran from 1st April to 30th June, giving people who are starting a new life in Japan plenty of time to make comparisons with other chairs. It’s a campaign unlike any other.
Made out of carefully selected plant-derived ingredients, BOTANIST products have a strong fan base in Asia. With their sophisticated designs, brand image, and original labels, they have a wide variety of products ranging from shampoo and conditioner to body soap, mouthwash and toothpaste. This popular brand is known for its product rollout in the spring season, using fermented leaf extract of Someiyoshino, a famous type of cherry blossom.
Since this time of year is a season of change, many consumers with a high sense of beauty decide to switch products or brands they use in order to have a fresh new start. BOTANIST successfully appeals to those who need refreshment in their daily scene by proposing seasonal product lines.
In 2021, BOTANIST’s official Instagram account posted a photo of their Spring Series products with a background image of cherry blossoms and blue skies. The photo is accompanied by a positive message for the new life and new future to come, along with the hashtag “#Spring Dreams in Bloom”, which is the theme of the season’s products. It’s a very refreshing and cheerful post that has attracted a lot of likes.
They also are running a “Spring Special Campaign” this year, in which consumers who have purchased more than 5,000 yen (equivalent to 32 GBP) can have a chance to win five spring BOTANIST products. The bottle designs use soft pastel They also are running a “Spring Special Campaign” this year, in which consumers who have purchased more than 5,000 yen (equivalent to 32 GBP) of BOTANIST products can have a chance to win five spring BOTANIST products. The bottle designs use soft pastel pink and white, and the advertising pictures are associated with images of cherry blossoms. It is clear the brand never fails to put forth refreshing products for the spring season.
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In March 2021, Panasonic Japan’s official Twitter account ran a campaign saying “Now that you have more ouchi jikan (extra time at home, quarantine) #Use cordless in your new life.” By following Panasonic Japan’s account and retweeting the relevant post, users had the chance to win a Power Cordless cordless hoover from them. The campaign was designed to help users understand the product more easily through simple, easy-to-understand messages and a video accompanying the posts. Since the action needed to join the campaign was rather simple, many users shared the tweet, so that Panasonic succeeded in reaching wider audiences at low cost.
Deco Home (Nitori)
Next, let’s look at the “Supporting New Life! Follow and Retweet Campaign” conducted by a sub-brand of Nitori, a major interior retailer in Japan. Deco Home was created as a more accessible interior goods retailer than Nitori, and it also offers original products that are not sold at Nitori.
Like Panasonic Japan’s campaign, this is also a “follow and retweet campaign”, and the audience could apply by following the official Twitter account (@decohome_nitori) and retweeting the campaign tweet. The campaign prize was a Nitori gift certificate (worth 6 GBP), which was given to 50 people in a prize draw. Despite the prize being rather low priced, the number of winners was set high, therefore the number of applicants was quite large.
This is a great example of how to make your campaign more appealing to a wider audience by offering generic gifts such as prize vouchers. Another feature of the campaign is that it is linked to two tweets, with the first tweet leading to the main campaign tweet. The first campaign tweet consisted mostly of text, while the second tweet had an image of the campaign to encourage users to take action. Rather than a single tweet, the two tweets were effective in raising Twitter users’ awareness of the campaign, as they were more likely to be exposed to the post.
Each social media platform has its own algorithm that makes it easier for users to see your post, so you can increase the effectiveness of your campaign by tailoring it to the characteristics of each site.
Types of campaigns and tips for Shinseikatsu marketing campaigns
The marketing campaigns related to Shinseikatsu given above are only a small example among many campaigns carried out during this season. The following are some campaigns you could consider during this season when new lives are about to start.
Early bird campaign
For retailers, an ‘early bird’ campaign is an effective way of offering a discounted price to those who order or buy earlier than others. Not only will you be able to take advantage of these people who have confirmed their choice or order early, but you will also be able to avoid the stock-outs and high delivery costs that often occur during peak demand periods.
Bulk buying campaign
When starting to live on their own for the first time, many people in Japan need a complete set of furniture appliances for their new life. If one is moving long-distance, such as from the countryside to Tokyo, they may also need to buy new household goods and clothes, while newcomers may need to purchase suits and suitcases.
Therefore, bulk purchases may be suitable for those who are undergoing a huge change in environment this season. We recommend that you offer a “New Life Support Set” or “New Working Person Support Set”, which is a package that deals with everything one needs for their new life.
New life support discount campaign
This campaign could be best leveraged by those in the catering industry. If the restaurant is affordable and accessible to students and new workers, a discount campaign for set meals and lunch boxes is recommended.Targeting people who are busy preparing for their new lives or who are unable to cook due to a lack of cooking equipment will encourage them to use these kinds of restaurants and convert them into fans.
When developing a Shinseikatsu campaign or event, companies can aim to “promote the attractiveness of the company’s products and services by offering prizes of the company’s own brand products” or to “raise the profile of the company itself by offering prizes of products that are not directly related to the company’s brand but that many people want”. Whichever strategy you take, it is essential to choose a motif or design suiting your target. For example, if you are to use flowers to convey the image of the upcoming exciting new life in springtime, it is necessary to use different types of flowers depending on the target: tulips are for younger people, cherry blossoms for freshers and university students, and gerberas for office workers.
These new life support campaigns can be used to raise the recognition and image of the company itself as well. Thinking about what you want to promote to Japanese consumers through these marketing campaigns will help you to define the suitable prizes, platforms to use, and the duration of the campaign.
Interested in understanding more about how to create appeal among Japanese consumers with limited-time or seasonal offerings? Get in touch to discuss how your brand could boost visibility using a carefully considered marketing strategy.