The Land of the Rising Sun is undergoing a massive digital transformation, spurred by the coronavirus pandemic. What better way for one’s business to stay ahead this year than to pay attention to these 5 areas of digital marketing in Japan.

1. Coronavirus and the push towards Digital Transformation

In the pre-pandemic years, Japan had been lagging behind somewhat in the area of digital transformation. Then the coronavirus reared its ugly head in 2020 and more and more people started working from home and shopping online. Consequently, these past couple of years have seen the country gearing towards improvements in its B2B and B2C marketing. 

This led to Japan’s online advertising expenditure growing by double digits between 2013 and 2019. In 2020, while traditional advertising expenditure dropped by 11.2%, Japan’s digital marketing expenditure went up by 5.9%. 2022 is therefore very likely to see a continual increase in online marketing, something that businesses can tap into as digital marketing in Asia generally continues to grow over the next few years.

2. Video Marketing is the Way to Go

While video advertising may not be new to Japan, 2022 will see a greater shift towards using this medium for B2C and B2B brands, products and services promotion. The main reason for this is videos explain products much better and definitely make understanding difficult concepts a lot easier for buyers. 

In a time when people’s bandwidths are already overloaded with acclimatising to a pandemic world, videos play an important role in getting one’s message across while possibly providing some entertainment in the process. Videos take away the information overload that tends to happen when consumers research products and look for reviews online. 

Leading Japanese internet advertising firm CyberAgent projects that video advertising in Japan will continue to grow in 2022. In terms of expenditure, video advertising is projected to grow to twice its pre-pandemic amount, or up to 506.5 billion yen, by 2023.

3. Social Media in Japan: YouTube Comes Out Tops

While YouTube may not always be considered a social media platform per se, the app does enjoy the most number of users in Japan, with Line coming a close second. The graph below provides a 5-year projection from 2020, of the use of YouTube and other dominant platforms for digital marketing.

Source: eMarketer (Aug 2020)

Apart from Facebook, all these social media platforms see a rise in users at a steady rate, with Instagram and TikTok being the most used platforms for younger consumers. As younger consumers prefer social media platforms to television, the demand for online videos from this group is only set to increase over the next few years.  LinkedIn is not very used by Japanese businesspeople, as most consumers aged 40 (including C-Suite executives) and above prefer Facebook. These more senior-level managers and stakeholders impact business decision-making so optimizing one’s business strategy to target this demography’s preferences will be the way to go when it comes to digital marketing on the platform. User data from Japan’s Facebook communities, business and interest groups are an invaluable source for businesses when refining one’s business strategy for this target audience.

In addition,Twitter and social media newbie, Clubhouse, have also seen a rise in popularity as a B2B means of communication. These are also viable platforms for digital marketing in Japan in the coming year.

4. Google? Think Yahoo Japan in Japan Instead

Since 2020, Yahoo Japan has been the dominant search engine for Japanese internet users, topping Google, as the graph below shows. This trend is set to continue in 2022 as Yahoo’s reach of 63.3% of all internet users in Japan has been projected to rise.

Source: Nielson April 2020 Top 10 Report on Total Number of Digital Users in Japan

5. The Continued Use of Virtual Events as the Pandemic Rages On

As a result of social distancing and working from home, Covid-19 has accelerated digital transformation in the field of event marketing. Whereas in the past B2B mostly relied on large seminars, conference, and networking parties, these businesses have been forced to rethink their marketing strategies and look into alternatives while keeping consumers engaged. In 2020, companies were forced to innovate in a bid to continue raising brand awareness and fostering brand loyalty, as wide-scale trade shows across Japan and overseas ceased due to most of the planet being in lockdown for extended durations. 

This has given rise to the new normal of marketing – the virtual event. What may have initially seemed to be the bane of the pandemic, that is a cessation of all physical events in all forms, has rapidly turned into a boon. In fact, Japanese businesses have reported new heights in achieving KPIs despite the past 2 years of economic uncertainty because consumers and businesses alike are no longer confined to physical spaces for events. The need for travelling and logistics that go hand in hand with organising such trade fairs and physical expos, both locally and internationally, that inevitably add to marketing costs, have been eliminated as a result.

This has seen a huge increase in the number of virtual event platforms and services in Japan in the last 2 years. With the pandemic remaining a threat and countries churning out vaccination programmes while keeping to travel restrictions, virtual events are only set to grow as a burgeoning media for online marketing. 

2022 will see virtual events continuing to surpass physical events in Japan, with the possibility of hybrid events slowly becoming a reality as the pandemic eventually comes under control globally. The virtual platform is therefore the go-to strategy for reaching consumers in Japan as the country – and the rest of Asia – undergoes this shift to digital marketing.

2021 was a year of challenges to businesses that was unlike any other year in the past and digital marketing in Japan is no exception. However, amidst these challenges come the opportunity to improvise and innovate.

This list of the top 5 digital marketing trends for 2022 is an inroad to opportunities for business success in Japan.

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