So your company just successfully funded its crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter or Indiegogo. Congratulations! Maybe you’ve already started manufacturing of your product or even sales to consumers.
Now’s the time to look into expanding to the Japanese market. If you want to succeed, you’re going to want to avoid the mistakes of companies that have come before you. You also should follow these six tips on how to best prepare your entry strategy into Japan.
1) Do your research
The first step any company should take before stepping foot in Japan is substantial market research. This means understanding your sector in Japan, the existing competitors, and the needs of Japanese consumers.
Gloture has many posts on business etiquette, interests of Japanese consumers and what mistakes to avoid. Also, it is important to brush up on certain Japanese laws and see if any certifications are required to sell your product in Japan. For example, electrical products require the PSE certification to be eligible for sale in Japan, while the TELEC organisation is responsible for certifications of radio equipment.
2) Make yourself known
Jumping through all the hoops to get your product approved for distribution in Japan is a challenge in itself. But once that’s over, you now have to make the sales and market your company’s product.
Don’t let all your hard work conducting research go to waste by launching in Japan unannounced. With a population of 127 million (11th highest in the world!), the market potential for your product in Japan is enormous.
Chances are high that the market you will be entering is already saturated with Japanese competitors – brands that Japanese people are already familiar and comfortable with. It is essential to connect with potential consumers through social media platforms like Twitter, Instagram, Line, Facebook and others to generate hype around your product and distinguish yourself from the competition.
This will, of course, require some Japanese language skill which brings us to the next point…
3) Get an agent
Streamline the whole process and save yourself much of the trouble of the daunting and complex process of entering the Japanese market. Getting an agent can help you to avoid the mistakes of past companies by ensuring you stay on the right track and guiding you every step of the way.
An agent can prove invaluable with their expert knowledge on Japanese business culture, current trends, market analysis and, of course, Japanese language skill. The information they can offer will be far richer and more accurate than any amount of online research can provide.
At the very least, ensure that your company can produce Japanese-language materials and effectively targets Japanese consumers and their interests.
4) Reach out to media
Key Opinion Leaders will be crucial in convincing the Japanese public of the quality and value of your product. Whether through traditional media, online outlets or YouTube/social media influencers, A good place to start is to reach out to big tech media outlets to get buzz around your product.
Some of the biggest tech and gadget websites include Bouncy, Techable Japan and Engadget Japan. Check out our previous articles to read much more about Japan’s tech sites. Whether you enlist the help of an agent or not, contact media companies and send out a press release to show off what your product and your company is all about. If things go well, your message can spread throughout the media and be shared through their social media pages.
5) Make sure you have enough capital to start with
This may seem like an obvious point, but as with entering any new market, you should expect the unexpected and account for surprises and challenges along the way. Depending on how you want to distribute your company’s products, different costs may be involved.
Working with a retail agent could be one option to make the process easier, eliminating the need for expensive and slow direct international shipping to Japanese consumers or a warehouse in Japan.
6) Consider launching a crowdfunding campaign in Japan
Following on from the previous point, opportunities in Japan still exist even if you only have limited funds for international sales. One alternative option is to team up with a Japanese partner and relaunch your crowdfunding campaign on a Japanese website, to kickstart your business and attract investment and interest in your product early on.
The second campaign will be less daunting than the first since you have already succeeded once and, with some assistance, repeat the same outcome in Japan. Furthermore, having a campaign with hundreds of backers will provide essential data on the likely sales and the size of the market and interest that you will be dealing with.
The most popular crowdfunding sites in Japan are Makuake, Greenfunding and Campfire. You can read about which one may be right for you in our article here.
If you are looking into expanding into the Japanese market, WE CAN HELP! We work with international companies to bring their products to Japan via our online store with marketing and promotional materials translated into Japanese, as well as offering support for crowdfunding campaigns on Japanese websites. Gloture can help make sure your entry strategy is a successful one. Contact us today!