Japanese advertising style

Japanese Advertising Style: 5 Best Strategies for Digital Marketing

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin

Coming across a Japanese advertisement is like stepping into a visual wonderland. They’re visually dense and often have vibrant colors, energetic fonts, and a lot of images and text.

If your business is looking to expand or open shop in Japan, you would want to embrace this unique style to truly connect with the locals.

Let’s look at how you can get in on the Japanese aesthetics for your advertising strategies.

Insights From The Article

• Japanese advertising is tailored to a unique consumer landscape characterized by a homogenous population, a preference for local products, risk-averse behavior, and selective purchasing habits.

• The world of Japanese advertising prioritizes captivating aesthetics, leveraging a blend of tradition and innovation to create visually striking campaigns that resonate with consumers’ appreciation for beauty and visual appeal.

• Cultural sensitivity is crucial in Japanese advertising, as consumers prioritize familiarity and authenticity.

• Ads that respect the many Japanese customs and traditions are more likely to align with the audience and build trust and loyalty for the brand.

The Japanese Market

Japanese market

The reason why Japanese advertisement is different from the West is because it caters to a very different mindset: The Japanese market. Let’s understand this market to better understand their choices.

A Homogenous Nation

The majority of Japan’s population shares the same ethnic background, with very little ethnic or racial diversity. This means that there is a strong sense of collectivism, and people tend to think of themselves as part of a larger group rather than focusing solely on their personal goals and identities.

Local> International

Japanese consumers tend to trust in the quality and craftsmanship of Japanese goods over foreign brands. To succeed, foreign brands need to understand and respect Japanese tastes and expectations and adapt their products to better suit local preferences.

Risk Averse

The Edelman Trust Barometer is an annual survey that measures people’s trust in institutions like government and business and societal trends like globalization and technology. 

Japan has one of the lowest rankings at 37%, meaning that people there are generally cautious and distrusting and tend to prioritize familiarity over risk. For foreign brands trying to enter Japan, this means they need to work extra hard to prove themselves.

Average Japanese consumer

Average Japanese customer traits.

Selective Purchasing

Japanese shoppers are picky. They prioritize quality and durability and are well-educated. Hence, they not only expect information-dense advertising but also do their research before experimenting with new products. 

So your product should not only have quality but also be resourceful enough to lure the average Japanese customer in.

Captivating Aesthetics

Japanese culture values beauty and aesthetics highly. People appreciate both old-fashioned beauty and modern styles. This love for beauty shows up in their everyday lives, and in the ads they see.

 So, when companies advertise in Japan, they have to make them look catchy enough to capture attention and make people want to be associated with that brand.

Advertising in Japan

Japan has a highly competitive market, especially in consumer goods like electronics, cosmetics, and food products. Companies invest heavily in advertising to differentiate their products and capture consumer attention.

Advertising in Japan reflects the consumers’ preference for a mix of tradition and innovation.

Get this: In 2023, Japan spent a massive $54.26 billion on ads, of which a whopping $28.51 billion went into digital channels. 

Japanese advertising expenses in 2023

Japanese advertising expenses in 2023.

Japan is also known for its innovative advertising approaches, which use technologies such as augmented reality, virtual reality, and artificial intelligence. 

A virtual and augmented reality advertisement in Akibara neighborhood, Tokyo

A virtual and augmented reality advertisement in Akibara neighborhood, Tokyo.

Putting in the effort to understand what works and what doesn’t in Japan’s advertising space can be helpful because what works in your country doesn’t have to work here.

Due to their risk-aversed nature, the Japanese tend to like ads that feel familiar and fit with what they’re used to seeing.

So, it’s important to understand and follow the cultural norms when creating ads for Japan, even if it means toning down some of the extravagances you might use elsewhere.

Japanese Advertising Strategies

Let’s look at some advertising campaigns commonly used in ads and commercials that have been proven to appeal to the average Japanese audience. 

Seasonal Marketing in Japan

Japan has many different celebrations and holidays throughout the year, each tied to different seasons. Adjusting advertising tactics to fit the time of year is an obvious strategic move.

Seasonal advertising brings a sense of novelty and freshness to marketing campaigns. This involves matching your product promotions, ads, topics, and ideas with the different themes of each season.

Japanese shoppers are known to respond well to time-sensitive deals and special seasonal products, driving both online and offline sales. To make the most of this time, you need to use colors, pictures, and messages that fit each important time of change.

Let’s look at how you can leverage each season and its trends to benefit your business:

Spring/Sakura

Spring in Japan is all about cherry blossoms, or Sakura. These delicate pink and white flowers bloom from late March to early April, marking the start of the season.

In spring, ads featuring cherry blossoms, vibrant colors, flowers, and nature symbolize fresh starts and chances.

Tip: Combine the seasonal trend with a limited edition product to boost sales. Capitalize on the excitement surrounding the season and create a sense of urgency and exclusivity, encouraging customers to buy the product before it’s gone. 

For example, different businesses leveraging the Sakura season cherry blossom packaging for a limited time.  Japan advertising during Sakura

Summer

Summer in Japan is a vibrant and dynamic season filled with unique cultural traditions, exciting festivals, and opportunities for outdoor adventures.

Since locals are enjoying the outdoors in this weather, this is the perfect time for your ads to have a tone of refreshment.

For example, Footmark, a swimming goods manufacturer coming up with ‘cooling‘ face masks for the summer that also offer UV protection. 

Japanese advertisements

Autumn

Autumn in Japan, known as “Aki, is a season of breathtaking beauty and cultural significance. 

The most iconic feature of Japanese autumn is the vibrant koyo or autumn foliage. The leaves of maple, ginkgo, and other trees turn brilliant shades of red, orange, and yellow. 

Hence, seasonal ads leverage the use of these koyo colors and center their themes around warmth, coziness, and fireworks. 

Since foods like chestnut and peach are available in this season, many brands launch beverages and foods using these foods. For example, below is the autumn packaging for Chestnut KitKat.

Japanese advertisements

Autumn is also marathon season in Japan, and there are many local and national events. Sports brands and athletic wear companies heavily advertise running gear, including shoes, apparel, and accessories.

Winter

Winter in Japan brings in a mood and atmosphere of festive illuminations, and traditional celebrations. Across the country, winter festivals celebrate the season with dazzling displays of lights, ice sculptures, and traditional Japanese performances.

Winter ads showcase family get-togethers, memorable occasions, luxury, and treating oneself; all wrapped up in the excitement of Christmas and New Year’s celebrations. 

For example, check out this winter TV ad campaign for Sokenbi Tea.

Japanese advertisements

Cuteness in Japanese Advertising Design Campaigns

Harnessing the power of ‘cute or ‘kawaii in Japanese advertising tactics helps create a positive emotional connection with the audience, unlike the usual toughness and masculinity portrayed in Western ads.  

To do this, Japanese ads use aspects like shyness and cute animals to portray child-like innocence. The main goal is to make the brands feel more relatable and friendly to people.

Kawaii advertisement Japan

Kawaii style advertisement.

A good example of Kawaii’s advertising strategy is brands creating cute mascots, known as yuru-chara, to represent their brand. For example, Sanrio is a Japanese company best known for creating Hello Kitty, one of the most iconic and beloved characters in the world. 

Sanrio licenses Hello Kitty on all kinds of products, like stationery, accessories, home goods, clothes, and even appliances. There are also Hello Kitty-themed cafes, hotels, and amusement parks.

Hello Kitty theme park in Huzhou China

Hello Kitty theme park in Huzhou, China.

LINE, a messaging app’s characters, like Brown and Cony, have become hugely popular. LINE leverages these characters in stickers, merchandise, and even physical stores to enhance user engagement.

LINE friends

LINE friends.

Media companies in Japan often break advertising slots into very small segments. For example, metro screens and street billboards give brands just a short moment to catch people’s attention.

Because of this, advertisers create short and powerful ads that make a big impact quickly, using the limited time they have to engage the audience.

Soft Sell is The Way to go

In Japan, the usual hard sell method, which forces the product on a customer, is not received well. Since we’ve established that doing well in the Japanese market involves winning their loyalty by establishing brand awareness, soft selling is the way to go.

Soft sells aim to create an emotional and memorable customer experience. These ads focus on storytelling, visual appeal, and creating a sense of harmony rather than overtly pushing products. 

Shiseido, a Japanese cosmetics company, released a series of commercials featuring high school girls asking viewers if they could tell their real age. The ads aimed to challenge stereotypes about age and beauty.

soft sell ad

The commercials use real high school girls with minimal makeup, presenting an authentic and relatable image.

The campaign sparked conversations about self-confidence while subtly Shiseido’s brand values of diversity and empowerment without overtly selling products.

Using 3D Billboards

In Japan, 3D billboards have become a popular and eye-catching way to advertise products and services.

These billboards use three-dimensional elements to create depth and realism, capturing the attention of passersby and standing out in crowded urban environments.

In 2014, Nike Japan celebrated the 35th anniversary of the Air Max with a stunning 3D billboard outside Tokyo’s Shinjuku Station.

Nike Air Max 3D billboard.

Nike Air Max 3D billboard.

The billboard, resembling a large orange Nike sneaker box, unveiled an array of Air Max styles, offering a glimpse into the inspiration behind each design.

Fun fact: Although it may seem like what’s on the screen extends beyond its edges, the screen is bigger than you realize and has a fake border so that the image/video can appear to extend outside of its apparent space.

Using Celebrities and Influencers

Celebrities, including actors, musicians, and sports stars, are often seen as trustworthy and influential figures by consumers.

For example, Tiger Corporation, a leading manufacturer of household appliances and thermal ware, appointed Naomi Watanabe, a Japanese Instagram influencer, as their brand ambassador.

Naomi Watanabe as Tiger Corporation's brand ambassador.

Naomi Watanabe as Tiger Corporation’s brand ambassador.

Advertisers aim to transfer the positive attributes and qualities of a celebrity to a product or brand by associating the celebrity with the product.

In a small country like Japan, the pool of influencers you find is smaller, too; however, having a beloved celebrity endorsing your brand can work wonders for your brand. 

But if this method is expensive, hiring a link building agency that understands SEO in Japan well enough to find cheaper digital marketing alternatives can be a cost-effective strategy. 

Understanding Japanese Advertising And Marketing

Before exploring advertising ideas you assume will work, carefully consider which styles will have the biggest impact on your specific target audience. 

Keep in mind that Japanese customers differ from those you’re used to targeting. They have unique preferences and expectations for the products they buy and the brand messages they engage with.

In my opinion, you should consider collaborating with local talent who have experience delivering Japanese communication strategies. Their insights can help ensure your campaigns resonate effectively with the Japanese clientele.

Final Thoughts

In Japan, advertising is a vibrant mix of visually captivating imagery and culturally nuanced messaging. To succeed in this market, you need to understand the diverse consumer landscape and focus on quality and familiarity over international appeal.

By embracing cultural norms and consumer preferences, your brand can create impactful campaigns that resonate with the Japanese audience and drive success in this dynamic market.

FAQs

  1. Why are Japanese advertisements visually dense?
    Japanese advertisements are visually dense and often have vibrant colors, energetic fonts, and a lot of images and text. This style is deeply ingrained in Japanese culture, where aesthetics play a significant role in everyday life, including advertising.
  2. Why is it crucial to grasp the Japanese consumer landscape for advertising?
    Japanese customers have unique preferences and behaviors influenced by cultural norms, societal values, and historical context. From their strong sense of collectivism to their preference for quality and familiarity, these factors shape how they engage with advertisements.
  3. Why do Japanese customers prioritize familiarity in advertising?
    Japanese customers tend to prioritize familiarity over risk when making purchasing decisions. In a society where conformity and harmony are valued, consumers are more likely to trust established brands and products they are familiar with rather than take chances on new or unfamiliar offerings.

Gaby Alexander

Gaby Alexander

Gaby is a search marketing enthusiast with a passion for helping agencies improve their ROI through effective link-building strategies. With expertise in Google Campaign Manager, HubSpot Inbound Marketing, and SEMrush, Gaby provides valuable insights and guidance to optimize search marketing campaigns.

Gaby Alexander

Gaby Alexander

Gaby is a search marketing enthusiast with a passion for helping agencies improve their ROI through effective link-building strategies. With expertise in Google Campaign Manager, HubSpot Inbound Marketing, and SEMrush, Gaby provides valuable insights and guidance to optimize search marketing campaigns.

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Table of Contents

5x’d Traffic + MRR doubled!

Join 100+ Agencies using SERPninja

100+ Agencies and 2500+ Customers use SERPninja.io for their link building needs. Signup now for actionable content & GREAT deals. We won’t SPAM we promise!