The Intricacies of Selling in Japan

The Japanese are very forgiving of foreigners especially when it comes to not fully understanding all of their customs and cultures.  They prefer not to have one-on-one meetings and will wait until there can be multiple people at the business meeting.  It is important to be respectful because if you make a bad reputation for yourself, it will take a long time to change the bad image that you have made for yourself.  Through building of relationships, a company can obtain many referrals, since it is all based on trust.  Selling online to Japan is a market that is really taken off and that companies should jump on.  There are requirements to being successful in this arena.  The customer service must be impeccable.  This includes understanding what Japanese consumers want and need from their products and services.  Quality is a top priority in their decision making.  However it is also important to understand the language, so if someone speaks Japanese that would be much better.  What would be considered a harmless product in the United States could be perceived as offensive in Japanese culture, so this is something an American company must tread lightly on.  An example of this is, on Valentine’s Day chocolates and presents are given from the female to their boyfriends, husbands, etc.  But the male counterpart must wait a month until it is White Day to reciprocate the presents.  If a company fails to understand this, it could be detrimental.  Also, the different age groups can vary among how to target those markets and the customs that they hold dear.

A great resource for this topic is Market to Japan.  They provide marketing consulting to firms exploring into Japan.  Check out their website at:


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