The Japanese market is the third largest in the world, so the competition is stiff. If you want to find your place in the sun when doing business in Japan, building and maintaining trust is essential. People are looking for reliable companies and entrepreneurs, their behavior will change depending on whether they trust a brand or not. Note that you can start building trust before you set a branch in Japan (thanks to your network, for example).
Why Trust Matters in Japan
The Edelman Trust Barometer is a useful source of information for companies. It analyzes markets and usually compares it with other countries, and it pointed out that yes, trust matters in Japan and has an impact on consumers’ behaviors.
In 2016, for a disrupted company, 34% refused to buy a product and only 6% paid more than they wanted. On the other side, for a trusted company, 51% chose to buy and 28% paid more than they wanted.
Half of the respondents agreed to the statement, ‘A good reputation may get me to buy a product, but unless I come to trust a company, I will soon stop buying it.’ It is not to be neglected. Even though your products are high-quality, if you do not respect your customers or if you do not try to build a relationship with them through social media, blogs or events (among others), your company will not have a huge success in Japan. Communication is a decisive element.
On the contrary, if your company is trustworthy, you will be rewarded with time. Trust is a buying factor – or a deal breaker factor – for 70% of Japanese consumers. They are more eager to buy a product once they trust the company, but also to buy other products from the same brand in the future.
How to Build and Maintain Trust
So now that we know that trust is essential to do business, how can we gain and maintain it?
First, in Japan the most trusted media source is the online search engines. Consumers look at other people’s advice and comments, how well a product is graded and how many people bought it. You can incite your customers to leave reviews on different websites by giving them incentives like free samples, a discount for the next purchase or just an acknowledgment. Check every now and then how people talk about your goods or services online (do not forget platforms like YouTube!). People will not believe your marketing campaign without verifying on the Internet if your brand or products are reliable.
Japanese customers also love buying products that many people bought too, so think about showing a list of your top sellers. Their way of buying is more peer-oriented than in some other countries, you have to use this to your advantage. They will, however, trust the opinion of their friends or colleagues better than online reviews when buying.
You can also create a feeling of familiarity in your customers’ mind thanks to celebrities or influencers. Check out why it is advantageous to contact a Japanese influencer for your campaign in our article! Try to find someone who fits the image you want to cultivate for your company.
Remember that it is better to launch a brand, not a product. If people trust your brand, people trust your products better. But even though they know your brand, note that they prefer buying high-end products than those they already have, according to an Adobe study.
Also, if you want to attract customers, global discounts do not work as much in Japan – prefer emails and personalized promotions to reach them. Send emails in the evening, since a Salesforce study showed that 44% of people check their personal emails after work. In addition to that, your Japanese must be perfect, flawless. Mistakes are not thought lightly of in Japan, and do not just copy, paste and translate your global advertisements or promotions. It must be adapted to Japan: opt for more images and less text, for example.
If you promote your products on social media, use pictures and videos to draw potential customers’ attention. As a source of information, Japanese consumers prefer media channels which show pictures or videos of the products, like TV, or look for a validation by using search engines or social media. They need to see that a brand is reliable and offers high-quality products. Surround sounds also increase trust according to the Edelman Trust Barometer. The more they hear the advertisement, the better they trust.
But to succeed in your marketing campaign, you also have to understand Japan and its culture. Follow the Japanese etiquette with polite language and respect for your customers, and check out our article about the Japanese business etiquette to communicate better in a professional setting.
But above all, you cannot build trust and make people believe in your brand if you do not have high-quality products and excellent attention to details. You can follow every piece of advice of the world, if your products do not correspond with what you are promoting, people will buy from another company.
Reference: www.workers-u.com/japan-consumer-insights www.slideshare.net/EdelmanJapan/2016-edelman-trust-barometer-japan www.slideshare.net/EdelmanJapan/2019-edelman-trust-barometer-special-report-in-brands-we-trust-japan www.infocubic.co.jp/en/blog/japan/how-to-win-hearts-trust-japanese-consumers www.entrepreneur.com/article/295306