We recently chatted with a PR expert in Japan, Mr. Yusuke Kamimura from PR & digital marketing agency ShapeWin Corporation. He delivered some key insights for businesses looking to promote themselves in the Japanese market. Here, we have condensed them down into 4 quick tips.
Introduction message from Mr. Yusuke Kamimura:
“My name is Yusuke Kamimura. I am the President of ShapeWin, which is a PR & digital marketing agency based in Tokyo, Japan. In 2007, I graduated from Tokuyama National College of Technology and majored in computer science and electronics.
I later joined SEGA TOYS as a marketing executive and product producer. In this role, I was involved in marketing toy products and appliances using popular children icons such as Doraemon, Anpanman, and Disney characters.
In 2011, I decided to go independent, and I founded ShapeWin Corporation. My vision is to provide marketing strategy & PR, and sales support for various startups across Japan and abroad.
Over the past 10 years, ShapeWin has successfully supported the development and promoted numerous startups from their beginnings all the way to IPO launch.”
1. Media and PR in Japan are king
Unlike in the UK, Japanese rank the large media outlets very highly, having utmost trust in what they say. Major platforms like Nikkei, Asahi, NHK. So having strong media coverage across these channels is a tried and tested way to bolster a brand message in Japan. PR is an incredibly important way to build awareness and trust for foreign brands.
2. Free trials aren’t readily accepted by Japanese professionals and consumers
For businesses with an online product or service, such as a SaaS platform, it’s worth noting that Japanese customers tend to not sign up for a free trial immediately. Before making this type of decision, even if there’s no obligation to continue with a paid plan after the trial ends, they want to do their research first. This might involve watching a video presentation or booking in a more formal demonstration.
This is similar to the process of jobhunting in the fourth and final year of university in Japan; students apply for their desired positions, choose where they want to work and then spend a lot of time preparing specifically to take on that job once they graduate. There is a much stronger sense of long-term commitment and no decision is taken lightly.
3. How the pandemic has benefitted SMEs in Japan
The COVID-19 pandemic has really shaken up the way Japanese business work, breaking away from the more traditional office-only approach. There’s been a huge benefit for SMEs in particular as they’ve been able to diversify their offering while having more flexibility to adapt. On the other hand, larger corporations experience more roadblocks as a result of their top-down decision making style. Therefore, it can take time to adapt new technologies and ideas despite having the resources to do so.
4. Want to promote an F&B brand in Japan?
Japan’s most prominent food & beverage expo, FOODEX Japan, has been a great platform for foreign F&B brands largely thanks to its quality media coverage. The expo is covered by at least 8 national media outlets, so it’s really key for visibility. Often those running booths are invited to talk about their products, providing crucial reach among potential consumers and business partners alike.
Thank you so much for your time Mr. Kamimura!
For more about ShapeWin, please visit the following links:
- Website: https://www.shapewin.co.jp/en/
- Facebook: https://m.facebook.com/ShapeWinCo/
- LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/shapewin
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/shapewinco/
- Twitter (Japanese): https://twitter.com/shapewin
If you’d like to be featured on our blog, either in the form of an interview or a guest article related to the Japanese market, please get in touch. We would love to hear from you.