Japanese Marketing Campaigns & Strategy You'll Want to Copy from April to June
Start planning now. A well-planned, well-executed campaign in conjunction with a widely celebrated special day could give your business exposure to Japanese audiences who haven't yet heard of you.
As we discussed previously, Japanese are chronic savers but are willing to spend to mark an occasion.
Online shops, restaurants, and malls throughout Japan know this Japanese consumer mindset, which is why they spring to action well in advance of each month's national holiday or other nationally observed annual event or occasion.
Today, we're covering case studies of successful Japanese marketing campaigns and strategies for Golden Week, Children’s Day, and more, which might spark ideas for what you can do to boost sales and grow brand recognition, too.
Case Study #1. Gran Blue Fantasy’s Golden Week promo event
Golden Week consists of 5 consecutive national holidays (April 29 to May 5) and is celebrated yearly in Japan. During non-pandemic years, many Japanese use this opportunity to go abroad and online retailers often promote outdoorsy items in the weeks leading up to this date.
However, last year (and likely this year, too), many Japanese stayed at home due to stay-at-home guidelines related to the pandemic.
In response, Gran Blue Fantasy, an app game, hosted a Golden Week Campaign event for all their players, providing raffled prizes for those who logged in each day of Golden Week and the opportunity to "rank-up" if they played during a designated time.
Image source: https://granbluefantasy.jp/
While some of the uncertainty around the pandemic has faded, it is still an ongoing concern. And many will be opting to stay closer to home during this week-long national holiday.
Looking at last year's data, products that sold well had to do with items that helped individuals have fun at home. Product keywords for top-selling items had tags like "preserved foods" and "drinking at home."
Key takeaway: How can your service promote and create a fun or stress-free stay-cation during Golden Week 2021?
Case Study #2. Tokunaga Koinobori Co., Ltd., Children's Day promo event
Children's day in Japan is often celebrated with the hanging of carp streamers if you have a male child (鯉のぼり= koinobori) and/or displaying a samurai doll in your house.
Tokunaga Koinobori Co., Ltd., a company that creates carp streamers, hosted an Instagram campaign in the month leading up to Children's Day, asking users to post a picture of their child with carp streamers in the picture. The conditions were to (1) follow their official account and (2) use two specified hashtags to enter the judged photograph contest. The top prize was a barbecue set.
Image source: https://www.instagram.com/p/BiMjNssAYrX/
Social media campaigns with high participation on Children's Day tend to be those where parents engage in an activity with their children and then post to Instagram about it, using a designated hashtag.
Key takeaway: Create a campaign that allows users to have fun, show off a little, and possibly win a prize—this is a popular social media marketing tactic in Japan.
Case Study #3. HAIRCO STORY’s Mother's Day promo event
Japan celebrates Mother's Day on the second Sunday of May (May 9), the same as many other countries worldwide. It isn't a national holiday, but it's universally celebrated in Japan by buying carnations or other gifts to mark the occasion.
Last year, HAIRCO STORY, a hair products creator, ran an effective Instagram campaign for Mother's Day. Anyone could enter to win free HAIRCO STORY products, provided they (1) followed the company's associated accounts and (2) reposted the original campaign post to their Instagram account.
Image source: https://www.instagram.com/p/B_roBHPJNhs/
This type of promo is less focused on making sales as it is on growing their following on Instagram, but it's a type of campaign that can bring swift results for brand recognition and getting in front of accounts that might not have found you on their own.
Key takeaway: Avoid being too sales-focused during campaigns. A lot goes into the buyer's journey, and the more fun you can insert into your campaigns—thus improving your brand image in the eyes of your potential customers, the more opportunities you will have in the future.
Case Study #4. Magiclin’s rainy season campaign
Rainy season in Japan is a seasonal weather occurrence that sweeps upwards from south to north, affecting everyone during the months of June to July. It's a dismal time when we're all indoors more, battling with mold, and longing for sunshine and no more rain.
Magiclin, a division of Japanese soap company Kao, hosted a Twitter campaign during rainy season in 2019. The campaign rules consisted of (1) following their official account and (2) retweeting their campaign post (shown below). Among the retweeters, 100 lucky individuals would get the product shown in the campaign post.
Image source: https://twitter.com/magiclean_jp/
The campaign garnered 14,000 retweets. Retweeting has little to no effort, making it even easier to participate in than Instagram campaigns (where you typically need to manually repost a picture with a caption and add hashtags).
Perhaps this is why corporate accounts have more success in gaining and growing their Japanese followers on Twitter over other social media platforms.
This Twitter campaign type is a popular marketing tactic in the Japanese Twitter-sphere and, of course, isn't limited to rainy season. Other regularly seen marketing tactics for the season include shops hosting "rainy day" sales, where if you come in on a rainy day, you get 10% off your order.
Additionally, rainy-weather goods or motifs and logos that help make light of this season are popular during these two months.
Key takeaway: Twitter campaigns, where the rules consist of only following the official corporate account and retweeting a post, are easier for individuals to enter than Instagram campaigns, and thus typically have a higher opt-in rate.
Case Study #5. Disney Tsum Tsum’s Father's Day promo event
Like Mother's Day in Japan, Father's Day is not a national holiday. Celebrated on the third Sunday of June, this year's Father's Day lands on June 20. Because there is no established gift associated with Father's Day, individuals are more open to making a wider range of purchases as a Father's Day gift.
Disney Tsum Tsum, the game app, hosted a Father's Day event in 2018, by releasing a web-based service that allowed you to design your father's face as a Tsum character. To enter this campaign, you (1) created your father's Tsum face, (2) posted it on Twitter, (3) followed the Tsum Tsum official Twitter account, and (4) used the designated hashtag.
Image source: https://twitter.com/disneygames_jp/
The winners, chosen by raffle, received a cash gift card. Individuals were encouraged to use the Tsum character as a Father's Day digital greeting card—and since texting one’s father on Father’s Day is something most were inclined to do anyway it likely played a significant role in this campaign's success.
Key takeaway: An over-arching theme within the case studies we've listed here: Businesses first focus on growing brand recognition and trust over clinching sales.
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