Home > Japan > Marketing tricks in Japan

Marketing tricks in Japan

This entry was posted by on Sunday, 11 September, 2005 at

Today I’ll tell you about the two most promintent (in my opinion) marketing tricks you see in the Japanase retail business today. The thing is, at first glance, these two techniques seem to be vastly different and I have always thought to myself that they were contradictionary. However, I guess with some deeper analyzing, you can see how they fit into Japanese society, and the mind of the Japanese consumer.

Anyway, here we go. The first one you ALWAYS see everywhere is the RANKING LIST. This must be the most used marketing trick in Japan, and it seems to work so well because everyone uses it, for almost anything. So you watch TV and you see “TOP TEN DIET SUPPLEMENTS” or you step into a supermarket and you can see on the shelves, “TOP FIVE IMPORTED CANDY” or “TOP TEN SNACKS FOR KIDS” etc etc ad nauseum.

I think the theory behind this is fairly obvious. Japan is a society where almost everyone goes with the flow. At least as far as I can judge from my position as an outsider. The key to success for a product in Japan is that people already buy lots of it. Yes, it’s kind of a Catch 22, you can’t get big in Japan unless you are already big in Japan! So, the Top Ten Lists in their various disguises, communicates to the consumer : “Buy this, because everyone else is buying it!” And since everyone else is buying it, it must be good, right? Personally, I think most of the Ranking lists are bogus. They are constructed from supplier’s marketing money – the company who spends most will get their product ranked at the top.

There is even a shop here in Japan that specializes only in these kinds of sales. It’s called “Ranking Queen” and sells everything from CDs to cosmetics, to candy, to water etc. Thing is, they have a selection of 3-5 different producs of every type only, and they are displayed as Top 3 (or 5) “Bottled Water” or “Skincare product” or “Japanese CD Single” Simply a genious marketing ploy!

The second marketing trick, which seems to be at odds against the first one, is the “Limited Edition”. You often see “For a limited time only” products in Japan. For example, during the summer, we have seen the following different soft drinks (andmany of them are already gone off the market) Fanta Apricot, Fanta Yuzu, Fanta Kiwi, Sprite X, Pepsi X, Pepsi Black, Kirin Lemon Black, Kirin Lemon White. And don’t get me started on the different time-limited snackbars and chips-flavors, it’s ridiculous!

So how come a society who is so unwilling to adapt new things, and always waits for the group to move in harmony, will desire to pick up these limited editions? I don’t have an answer to this. I know that Japanese are quick to jump on new trends and fads, but tend to tire fast, either because not enough people join in or that, in fact, the fad was stupid. So, when there is a new version of a product, Japanese love to get it because it’s unique and special – however there is one thing that is worth to note. All these unique and special limited products are all produced by big companies – so the Japanese consumer “safely” can buy it knowing that a popular company stands by it. I don’t think a limited edition by an unknown producer would do nearly as well as something launched by, say, The Coca Cola Company.

So in my opinion, within certain safe boundaries, Japanese are willing to take risks and jump onto new trends and try new products – and the more limited and special, the better – however, the safest bet to gain the consumer’s trust is still to be big and popular already….

22 Responses to “Marketing tricks in Japan”

  1. Rajendra

    How true! I completely agree with the second one. All that crap of “kikan-gentei” is to fool the consumer and make us buy it even if it is no different from the rest.I was in japan for a limited period(5 years) and since i wanted to see and experience japan as much as possible, i fell to this one despite knowing about it!

  2. Johan

    The thing is, the Kikan Gentei is a brilliant tool in many ways because it drives the “collector” spirit in all of us to buy the new flavor, color, etc. For sodas and candy, I really fall for it – but I’m not often disappointed actually, only when I realize that for certain really nice new flavors, it is truly “Kikan Gentei” (temporary) and then it’s impossible to get again…..

  3. It’s a good stage!

  4. I thought that was extremeley exciting. Many thanks for your unusual details. I’ll maintain using this.

  5. This blog site is great. How did you come up witht he idea?

  6. Yes, thank for the details a million! Have to discover anybody organizing Tea Party. I wants to participate in organizing.

  7. Sweet write-up.

  8. Ok. I believe you are appropriate!

  9. Scan Tool for OBD with bi-directional controls, advanced graphing. J2534 interface, use stand alone or as scan tool with obd2 software. Optional wireless. 100Z

  10. Great post! I’ll subscribe proper now wth my feedreader computer software!

  11. Very first factor , A large thank you for you to open my eyes.

  12. What a excellent resource!

  13. One more new write-up with powerful points, I’ve been a lurker below for any brief time but wish to become a great deal much more engaged inside long term.

  14. That is definately one of the best blogs I’ve sen in ages online. Maintain up the excellent posts.

  15. Great post! I’ll subscribe proper now wth my feedreader computer software!

  16. Locksmith tools are used to unlock cars and help motorists who have locked their keys in the car 100Z

  17. Functions:Reset Inspection Intervall. Workable Model:Opel Astra build after 1998, Zafira build after 1998, Corsa build.  lyj

  18. Hi, exactly where did you get this info can you please support this with some proof or you might say some very good reference as I and others will actually enjoy. This details is actually great and I will say will usually be helpful if we attempt it possibility free. So if you can back it up. That may really support us all. And this may well bring some good repute for you.

  19. Models available for most BMWs built between 1994 and 2003
    Displays all SRS fault codes, tells you what’s wrong.
    Resets the “SRS” Light.. lyj

  20. KFZ Diagnose Software … präsentiert OBD2 Software KFZ Diagnose Software OBD2, OBD, EOBD, Fahrzeugdiagnose, OBD II, OBDII, OBD1, chiptuning, obd2 100Z

  21. XP-STAR(Auto-Link Blue STAR) realizes all the functions of official factory BENZ Star2000: reading out and erasing trouble code csh

  22. Browse our online store, you can find the NFL football jerseys from Nike, the NBA basketball jerseys from Adidas, the MLB baseball jerseys from Majestic Athelic and the NHL hockey jerseys from Reebok. http://www.customjerseysale.us Personalized NFL,NBA,MLB,NHL jerseys on sale at low price!