Market entry strategy for exports to Japan

Our local teams plan & execute

If Japan is a relatively unknown market for you, you need a clear market entry strategy. This may be different from the strategies you have used so far, as the market structure and the competition is different.

Alliance experts helps you to check, adjust or define your market entry strategy, so that your can safely start with a distributor search or with your business development.

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Oppportunities for international business in Japan

Japan is known for its unique blend of traditional and modern culture. As of 2023, Japan has a population of about 125 million. It is notable for its technological advancements, rich cultural heritage, and influential economy.

Japan’s economy, with a GDP per capita of around $40,000 USD in 2023, is one of the most advanced in the world. Major industries include automobiles, electronics, robotics, and manufacturing. The country is also known for its strong emphasis on research and development.

Japan’s primary imports are machinery and equipment, fossil fuels, foodstuffs, chemicals, and raw materials for its industries.

Key cities include Tokyo, the capital and world’s largest metropolitan area; Osaka, known for its modern architecture and nightlife; Kyoto, famous for its historic temples and traditions; and Yokohama, a major port and commercial hub.

Opportunities in retail in Japan

The Japanese retail industry is dubbed as being a sophisticated market and is the 3rd largest market for fashion after China and USA. Over the years, the country’s retail sector has been exhibiting moderate growth. Currently, there are around 3,124 shopping malls, 52,417 convenience stores and 240 department stores spread across Japan. In the Shinjuku Isetan Department Store Alone, retail sales amount to about 900 million JPY per day.

Japan’s home furnishings sector

The country recently suffered from deflation, a decrease in the price level of goods and services. One of the affected sectors was the home furnishing market which experienced a downward trend. But as the housing market is picking up, the home furnishing sector is also starting to recover. In the mid-price segment, competition is not so stiff which gives opportunities for business brands to target customers looking for high-quality products with value for money.

Japan Skin care market

Japan is globally famous for its advanced skincare market. It is popular for its premium products, the overall value of which amount to 1500 billion JPY. These items include serums, scalp care products, moisturizers and more. The men’s care segment amounts to 150 billion JPY. With Japanese brands known for their effective products, the country is projected to occupy the largest skincare market in Asia.

Consumption of food in Japan

Based on the data from MAFF, Food Balance, the following comprise the consumption percentage share of the Japanese:

  •        Food Grain (32%)
  •        Vegetables (14%)
  •        Dairy Products (11%)
  •        Seafood (7%)
  •        Fruits (7%)
  •        Meat (5%)
  •        Others (24%)

47% of Japanese consumers shop for their grocery requirements at supermarkets while 32% of customers prefer GMS and 7% go to CVS. Smaller supermarkets account for 5% of the total consumption market share in the country.

The senior citizens market in Japan

Apart from capturing the retail opportunities for the younger group, there is an untapped elderly market. Over the years, the elder age bracket in Japan has purchasing power. On an average, the savings of the elderly group amount to about 30 million JPY. One-fourth of the country’s population is comprised of elders aged 65 years old and more.

Opportunities in the Japan ICT sector

Asia is considered to be the biggest regional cell phone market. The Asia-Pacific region accounts for more than half of the world’s share when it comes to mobile phone shipments. In the region, Samsung has the highest market share. In Japan, Apple has the highest market share with more than 34% of individuals who prefer to use Apple phones. Japanese companies and other global brands have the following market share:

  • Sharp – 15%
  • Sony – 14%
  • Fujitsu – 10%
  • Samsung – 8%
  • LG, NEC, Panasonic make up 10% of the market share

Use our support to enter the market in Japan

We know the market from inside-out

We work with local teams, who already know the market, speak the language and know the business culture.

We are active in over 30 countries

We can compare different markets and as we can help you in all of them, we only favor the market that may work out best for you.

Reduce your risks

We help you avoid cultural misunderstandings, compliance issues, and other risks associated with entering a new market.

Learn from our financial perspective

We help you draft the business case for your market entry, weighing potential turnover and margins against the costs for market entry and further marketing.

Four questions to define your market entry strategy

Entering a new market takes time and resources, so it is good to ensure that Japan is open for your product and that you have good chances on finding a positioning that really pays off.

Is this the right country?

Why pick Japan from over 200 countries to choose from? We always like to know your considerations, as other markets may be easier to penetrate.

How big is the market?

Data from market research reports won’t tell you how your specific product will be received. For this you need an expert opinion and comparisons with similar products. Our local teams can do this.

Wat is the market structure?

Where will your end-users typically look for your product or service? Is this online of offline? Who controls these sales channels and how easy is it to find the right positioning? We know the market from inside out.

What are regulations?

Have you checked import duties, taxes and other regulations? Your product may need certifications or a local representative. We can easily check for you.

With the above data we can start building a business case for your market entry and decide on the best target group to approach. From there we can continue for you with a distributor search or with direct business development.

Get your proposal directly

    In , our experienced business developers work for you 20 hours per month for . Every month we report on what we have done and plan actions and deliverables for the next month. This is a 12-month plan where you can scale up and down our efforts when needed.

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    We are active in over 30 countries