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  • Matt Schneiderman

    Matt Schneiderman

    Matt Schneiderman is a San Francisco-based writer whose articles have appeared in Cosmopolitan, Maxim, Popular Science, and Runner's World, as well as online for sites like Mashable, Gizmodo, Thrillist, and Fatherly. He is also a former Assistant English Teacher, having participated in the JET Program in Gifu Prefecture, Japan.

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  • Feb 28, 2017


5 Reasons Digital Content Marketing is Taking Off in Japan

Content marketing is everywhere. In fact, you’re consuming some right now. Perhaps you arrived here because you Googled “Japan content marketing.” More and more online material—blogs, videos, social media posts—is marketing content, especially in the U.S. and Europe. By 2019, the global digital content marketing industry will be a $300 billion business.

Asian companies are now adopting the practice as well, and quickly: content marketing is growing at between 5 and 10 percent annually there. Japan, though, has not experienced the same rate of growth, perhaps owing to the nation’s cultural resistance to rapid change or the perception of unmeasurable ROI on something as intangible as trustworthiness. Many marketers in Japan still view traditional advertising as the route to brand recognition, thus sales.


Photo credit: Train station ad featuring Japanese celebrity Rola / Featured photo: Bartek Zyczynski/Shutterstock

Print magazines still enjoy wide circulation and feature many sponsored products touted by magazine models as the next big thing. A look at the websites of such magazines will tell you that content marketing as we know it in the U.S. is very different in Japan.

Teen Vogue in the U.S., for example, might publish a lot of articles and features online. In fact, they have recently been known to venture into discussions about politics. But popular teen and college girl magazine Non-no focuses mainly on photos of their models and their “blogs” which are also photos with an Instagram-length description next to it. This type of photo-heavy content isn’t as search-engine friendly and focuses on magazine models as “influencers.”

From the get-go, it’s already clear that content marketing in Japan will develop in a slightly different direction than their western counterparts. Foreign brands will need to pay close attention to how Japanese audiences consume their content.

This pace of adoption  of content marketing in Japan makes for a rewarding opportunity for organizations seeking a larger footprint in the market. Here’s why Japan is poised to be a significant consumer of content marketing.

1. Mature Digital Infrastructure

93% of Japan is on the Internet, compared to 75% of the U.S., and 59% of Japanese users access the Internet via cell phones. Online video, too, has a high permeation rate. Digital advertising is already prevalent, as display advertising, social media advertising, and contextual advertising permeate the Japanese-language Web. Introducing digital content marketing strategies will not require huge advances in technology, providing fertile ground for new blogs, video, and social.

2. Significance of B2B

B2B relationships and deal-making are different in Japan, often taking place in closed meeting rooms. But social media is changing that, moving interactions online. Content marketing can more effectively target potential partners than traditional advertising. More easily reaching decision-makers is particularly important in Japan—content marketing lets companies interact directly with their target audience.

Currently, many advertising agencies and brands in Japan rely on traditional advertising combined with a celebrity spokesperson to push an ad. This could be poised to shift more towards content marketing with young Japanese gathering on platforms like LINE, Instagram, Twitter, and Snow. If brands want to appeal to this demographic, they will need to join them on the platforms where they gather.

3. Cost Efficiency

Kaizen is at the heart of Japanese efficiency. Spotting and eliminating unnecessary waste is a strong impulse for companies. Content marketing costs 62% less than outbound marketing, but generates more than three times as many leads. Moving to a content marketing strategy saves companies money and is more effective than traditional marketing.

4. Focus on Community

Ultimately, content marketing is intended to foster relationships—relationships between businesses and between businesses and consumers. The widespread use of social media in Japan is evidence that these relationships are important and that community-building is happening online, allowing for the proliferation of content that can be consumed and shared.

5. The Rise of the Individual

Though Japanese culture is often linked with conformity, there is a growing trend of individualism coinciding with the rise of globalism. Content creation must be personalized and contextually relevant to truly succeed with consumers. Content marketing done well personalizes materials for information seekers, allowing users to pursue individual interests and achieve their goals.

Are you ready to jump in? Check out our Japan 101 Workshop to learn best practices for making an impression online and off.


About btrax

btrax is a localization and marketing agency specializing in Asian market entry and growth:
  • Market research
  • Strategy consulting
  • UI/UX and content localization
  • Digital and event marketing
Learn more about btrax or contact us at to see how we can help your business.

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