2021.3.31 Column

Top 5 B2B Marketing Trends in Japan for 2021

Japan has always been a very peculiar market. Covid-19 pandemic has profoundly changed people behaviour, and consequently Japan’s marketing situation. With companies forced to allow their employees working from home, and with people forced to spend more time indoor, digital transformation has been incredibly accelerated and companies’ marketing strategies have been adjusted to this transformation. 

Paper marketing, the leader of Japanese marketing strategies, makes way for digital marketing, with a big jump in digital advertising and Social Media Marketing, in B2B as well, even if it has always a conspicuous presence in exhibitions and trade shows. 

In fact, along with the digital transformation, events and exhibitions still remain at the top of marketing trends to be successful in Japan.

In this article we have listed up the top 5 B2B Marketing trends you have to consider when planning a marketing strategy for Japan!

1.    Digital Advertising

Japan is the world’s forth advertising market and Japan’s Internet advertising expenditures achieved double-digit growth for the sixth consecutive year in 2019.
According to Dentsu Inc., in 2020, due to the impact of Covid-19 pandemic, Japan’s advertising expenditure amounted to 6,159.4 billion yen, 11.2% down compared to the previous year.
However, internet advertising expenditures amounted 2,229.0 billion yen, 5.9% up.

Especially digital advertising is constantly growing at a rapid pace year by year. Search advertising is the market’s largest segment, followed by banner advertising and social media advertising. 

A very lucrative market, but still peculiar one, because of linguistic, cultural and system barriers, that are important to be consider when planning a digital advertising campaign in Japan. Especially in B2B, advertising on Google or Yahoo! Japan can significantly change the sort of your campaign! Learn more in our article about digital advertising in Japan

2.    Video and Video Advertising

Video advertising is not a new digital marketing trend in Japan, but they have a noticeable shift among domestic brands to use video ads for a larger portion of their digital advertising during last few years.
In 2019, Video advertising grew significantly, +157.1% compared to 2018.
In 2023, the expenditure for Video Ads in Japan is projected to reach around 506.5 Billion yen, 2 times the total expenditure in 2018. 

As videos help people to understand better and simplify difficult concepts and sympathize better with a brand or product/service, B2C and B2B companies who are taking advantage of them are increasing a lot. Not only Youtube, which have seen a noticeable increase during pandemic, but also on Social Media Platforms, such as Facebook and Instagram, or Google, had an increase of video ads.  

3.    Social Media Marketing

Along with digital advertising, companies that are taking advantage of Social Media for their marketing strategy are increasing rapidly, both in B2B and B2C, and this is the main marketing trend for 2021.
Especially during Covid-19 pandemic, Japanese people have increased the use of Social Media: at the end of 2020, Social Media Users were 74.3% compared to the total population and the time spent on them increased +6 minutes compared to the previous year. 

Taking advantage of this, companies in Japan began to boost their communication on Social Media and, especially, invest on Social Media advertisement to reach their target audience.
For instance, according to a research by NNTCom Online Marketing Solutions Corporation, 80.4% of Japanese enterprises used Facebook, the leader of Social Network in business, for their communication in 2020, and 57,1% of them operates in B2B.
On the other hand, LinkedIn is not very used by Japanese businesspeople, while Twitter and the new-born Clubhouse are becoming popular as a B2B means of communication.
Also, Instagram and LINE remain the favourite Social Media Platform for B2C companies who want to target a younger target. If you are interested in Social Media Marketing, learn more in our blog post!

4.    Virtual Events

With people forces to social distance and work from home, Covid-19 pandemic has accelerated the digital transformation also in the field of event marketing. B2B companies, that used to have large seminars, conference and networking parties, or attend the biggest trade shows in the Country and even oversea, have been forced to review their strategies and find an alternative way to keep their promotion strategy up.
Since March 2020, when most of the world was under lockdown, companies struggled and doubted a lot about what has become a “new normality” in this field: virtual events. Nowadays, hosting and attending virtual events is become something normal and companies has found new valuable KPI they could hardly obtain from physical events. 

Also, the number of virtual event platforms and services are increased a lot in the last year. As many of our clients asked us for help them in switch their events over online, last May we have launched our own in-house developed virtual event platform and service, KODOU: from the preparation to the recording and broadcast of streams, using our know-how, we have accumulated over 25 years of experience, we are helping many of our clients to host successful virtual events!

Even if in 2021 many Countries have starting vaccination programs, physical events like the ones companies held in the pre-Covid era are still far, and probably will not come even back as before. Virtual events remain the trend in Japan for this year, but probably on their way to lay the ground for hybrid events

5.    Exhibitions and Trade Shows

Along with events, in B2B trade shows and exhibition have been always the landmark for benchmarking and for promotion of products/services, as well as a good opportunity for lead generation and networking. 
At the beginning of 2020, in order to avoid the spread of Coronavirus, most of exhibition and trade show organizers in Japan were forced to suspend or postponed them. During the last year, many tentative to replicate physical trade shows over online were made, giving the opportunity to people far from the venue and even to foreign people to attend them, both as exhibitors and visitors. 
However, the atmosphere of physical exhibition was hard to replicate. Therefore, as soon as the first State of Emergency was lifted around June, the biggest trade shows were hosted again physically, with some countermeasures. Social distancing, masks, sanitizers and body temperature checks have become the “new normality”.
Unlike events, that are likely to be hosted hybrid in the near future, B2B exhibition and trade shows are projected to be held physically in 2021 too. However, they remain one of the unmissable trends for businesses that want to promote their brand and generating new lead in the Japanese market.

2020 was unlike any other year in many ways, and marketers find themselves facing many of the challenges it brought.
Our list of the top 5 marketing trends in Japan for 2021 reflects both these challenges as well as potential opportunities to succeed here.
On one hand, digital marketing continues to grow in importance within Japan B2B market, and its function is projected to become even more crucial to business success; on the other, events and exhibitions continue to be a very important aspect in a Japan’s marketing strategy and are going to change significantly from now on, divided between hybrid, virtual and physical.

Bigbeat Inc. helps foreign business aiming to enter in the Japanese market. If you need detailed information or assistance for participating to an event in Japan or organize your own event, do not hesitate to contact us using the form here!

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