Over the past few years, Japan has seen a significant increase in the number of social media influencers. The COVID-19 pandemic has further driven companies to shift their marketing spend from traditional methods like TV advertising and pop-ups to social media and social ads. In fact, a survey found that Japanese companies have increased their social media marketing efforts by 57% since the start of the pandemic. This trend shows that influencer marketing in Japan will likely be bigger than ever in 2023. Influencer marketing will be a leading strategy in marketing and advertising in Japan.
In this article, we'll answer seven key topics to help you understand how to effectively use influencer marketing in Japan and create a successful campaign.
7 Guides to Influencer Marketing in Japan ⬇️
1. Top Social Media Platforms in Japan
The social media landscape in Japan is very different from that in Western countries. If you were to look at this infographic, you might be wondering what LINE is, as it is relatively unknown outside of Asia. LINE is not a typical social media platform, but rather a messaging service with additional payment and news features. LINE is used by almost 80% of the internet users in Japan. Other popular platforms in Japan are Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, and TikTok.
Instagram is popular in Japan, especially among users over 30, due to its new features like stories, reels, and polls. These features are heavily used in Japan, making Instagram an attractive platform for fashion, beauty, food, and travel brands looking to increase engagement with their audiences. Twitter is popular among all age groups in Japan due to its ability to allow users to anonymously tweet their thoughts on private, social, or political issues under nicknames and hidden identities.
YouTube content in Japan is often known for its humorous and unconventional nature, with top Japanese influencers producing videos in two main categories: comedy and food challenges. TikTok currently ranks last among the top 5 social sites among the younger demographic in Japan, but it is likely to overtake Facebook in 2023 due to Facebook's declining popularity among younger generations in the country.
2. Effectiveness of Influencer Marketing in Japan
According to Digital Infact, a Japanese marketing research firm, the influencer market in Japan exceeded $200 million in 2018 and is predicted to exceed $500 million by 2023. With the rapid growth of the influencer market in Japan, it's clear that influencer marketing is becoming an increasingly important marketing strategy for brands in the country. Influencer marketing allows brands to reach their target audience through trusted and influential individuals (whether virtual or real), rather than traditional forms of advertising.
In a country where social media use is prevalent and people often look to influencers for recommendations and advice, working with influencers can be an effective way to promote products and services and increase brand awareness.
One example of a successful influencer marketing campaign in Japan was the "Kracie Popin' Cookin'" campaign, which featured popular Japanese influencers creating and showcasing the company's DIY candy kits on their social media platforms. The campaign was a major success, with the kits selling out in stores and gaining widespread popularity among Japanese consumers, particularly younger audiences.
The campaign was successful for several reasons. First, the use of influencers allowed the company to reach a large and engaged audience through social media platforms. Influencers also have a high level of credibility and trust with their followers, which can help to build brand trust and credibility for the company. Additionally, the DIY nature of the candy kits made them particularly appealing to younger Japanese consumers. The kits also had a strong element of novelty and fun, which helped to drive their popularity.
3. The Top Japanese Influencers
To achieve success in any market, it's essential to choose the right influencers who can effectively connect and engage with your target audience. When choosing an influencer in Japan to work with, it's important to consider the type of content that the influencer typically creates and the platforms on which they are most active. For example, if you are targeting younger consumers, you may want to choose an influencer who is active on platforms such as TikTok or Instagram, as these platforms are particularly popular with this demographic.
It's important to take the time to familiarize yourself with the top influencers and the brands they promote to determine which influencers and platforms are the best fit for your campaign in Japan. To make your search easier, we've compiled top 5 influencer lists for Instagram, TikTok and YouTube. You can access the complete lists by following the links below.
Naomi Watanabe (9.8M followers)
Rola (8.4M followers)
Kiko Mizuhara (7.2M followers)
Tomomi Morisaki (5M followers)
Tomohisa Yamashita (5M followers)
Junya Gou (43.2M followers)
Bayashi (40.2M followers)
Michael Jackton (11.5M followers)
Hina Kagei (10.9M followers)
Issei (10.5M followers)
HikakinTV (11M subscribers)
Comdot (4.03M subscribers)
Janino Chanel (3.65M subscribers)
Ryuji (3.49 subscribers)
Heisei Flamingo (3.31M subscribers)
4. Challenges of Influencer Marketing in Japan
There are two main barriers to influencer marketing in Japan: the language barrier and the fact that most established influencers are managed by Japanese talent agencies.
The language barrier can make it difficult to effectively communicate with influencers and ensure that your brand is accurately represented. Captions and hashtags used by influencers will often be in Japanese with occasional English words or phrases added for style. Without fluency in Japanese, it can be challenging to find an influencer who can authentically represent your brand and ensure that important nuances are not lost in translation during briefings.
Additionally, Japanese talent agencies are known for being strict gatekeepers and may not work with newer companies without prior connections to Japan. This can make it difficult for new brands to break into the influencer market in Japan. For this reason, it is also important for brands entering the market to find an influencer marketing expert local to Japan.
5. Differences Between Japanese and Western Influencers
When launching an influencer marketing campaign in Japan, there are a few key differences to keep in mind. Firstly, there are fewer Japanese influencers compared to countries like the US. Japanese influencers are also known for being selective when it comes to choosing which brands to work with.
Another unique characteristic of Japanese influencers is their sensitivity to their audience and careful approach to avoiding negative comments. For example, famous singer Ayumi Hamazaki received criticism for what some in the West may consider to be a harmless act, such as sitting in a shopping cart, due to traditional Japanese societal expectations.
While these qualities may mean that it takes longer to set up a campaign in Japan, once you do, you'll be rewarded with the second highest engagement rate in the world (4.93%) and an audience who almost exclusively trust the influencers they follow.
6. Adapting to the Challenges of COVID-19 in Influencer Marketing
The COVID-19 pandemic had a significant impact on all industries in Japan, and brand marketing strategies and communications had to be quickly adapted to face the crisis.
Despite the challenges posed by the pandemic, Japanese brands and influencers were able to work together effectively to come up with appropriate and creative content that delivered meaningful and reassuring messages to users. Many brands engaged in relevant community hashtags and encouraged people to stay home, while others shared practical tips and information to help people navigate the crisis.
Influencers also played a crucial role in helping to spread important messages and provide a sense of connection and community during a time of uncertainty and isolation. By live-streaming and interacting with their followers, influencers were able to provide support and bring some positivity to their audiences.
7. Rates for Influencer Posts in Japan
The cost of working with influencers in Japan depends on various factors, including your marketing goals, industry, and the platform you are targeting. As there are fewer Japanese influencers compared to other countries, you can expect them to charge more for their services. Micro-influencers will generally cost less than those in the top ten ranking, but it's important to keep in mind that cost is only one part of the equation.
Japanese influencers and agencies may be hesitant to work with foreign companies that are relatively unknown in Japan, which can make it difficult to access the influencers that are the best fit for your brand. To overcome this challenge and ensure an effective campaign, it's advisable to work with an English-speaking influencer marketing agency that understands Japanese culture, has a strong reputation in the industry, and can provide case studies demonstrating their value in terms of clear return on investment (ROI).
Influencer marketing in Japan has seen significant growth in recent years and is expected to continue to grow in the coming years. Social media platforms like Instagram and Twitter are popular in Japan, and influencers on these platforms can be effective in promoting products and services to targeted audiences.
There are challenges to influencer marketing in Japan, including the language barrier and the fact that most established influencers are managed by Japanese talent agencies. It's important for brands to be aware of these challenges and work with influencer marketing agencies that have a strong understanding of Japanese culture and connections in the industry in order to run a successful campaign.
Overall, influencer marketing can be a powerful tool for brands looking to reach their target audience and increase brand awareness in Japan.
AJ Marketing | Unlock the Power of Influence