How to Do Market Research Like a Japanese
Want to learn how to do market research like a Japanese?
In the English-speaking world, a simple Google search will deliver to you the data you need. But in Japan, where you'll need to know the specific Japanese term to get any results, you might do better by building your own directory of relevant sites that you check regularly.
To help you with that, here are the sites that Japanese research specialists and executives use when conducting market research for their industries.
We also provide a list of the top market research companies that serve international clients.
Bookmark this page for quick access to the information you need to make your next move.
How can you find out demographic-based insights so that your ad campaigns for your online shop, products, service or software are targeted to the right people in the right places? The following sites provide statistical data on households and survey-based information on what's forefront in your prospects' minds:
Stat.go.jp. Run by the Statistics Bureau of Japan, this site publishes the various government-conducted surveys of Japan's population, with an English version of their site available, too. Find out income earned by population segments or household expenditure categories and more.
Chosa no chikara. This site is run by IT Media, an online portal listing questionnaires and surveys within almost every industry category.
Hakuhodo Institute of Life and Living. For the past 28 years, the Hakuhodo Institute has been conducting a long-ongoing survey to assess current and changing consumer values and lifestyles in the Tokyo and Hanshin area. They provide summaries of findings by category and clear graphs to show trends in answers received. A must-see to get a pulse on local insights and Japanese consumers.
Research by industry and segment
Before making a big business move, branching out into new territory, or launching an initiative, look at industry growth factors to see if your move is sound. These sites provide you with statistics to give you the input you need to make a well-informed choice:
METI.go.jp. The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry has a page dedicated to statistics related to trends in industry and economy in Japan.
e-Stat.go.jp. The government's official statistics portal site is divided into 17 categories, including land, weather, population, household structure, labor, wages, agriculture, fishery, forestry, dairy production, mining, service industry, construction, energy, water, transportation, tourism, science and technology, education, culture, sports, social security, and more.
Gyokai-search. This site provides data on growth by industry and industry sub-categories. For instance, it will tell you the growth rate, profit rate, industrial scale, and more for each category in their 150-industry list. It's free to access, and it draws information from companies' annual securities reports.
National Diet Library. The National Diet Library offers a page on their site titled “How to check industry trends,” which is a fantastic resource for finding authoritative statistical information on production volume, market size, industry outlook, market share, industry lists, and more.
Marketing and sales trends
Want to know what sales and marketing strategies your competitors are using? Bookmark a couple of these sites to understand how Japanese businesses use coupons and campaigns to keep customers loyal and engaged:
Allcoupon.jp. One of the largest coupon portal sites in Japan. Filter by region, industry, and price, etc. A great site to keep track of what your competitors are up to and how they are targeting Japanese customers.
Mobile Marketing Data Labo. Research on smartphone use, online retail, and online marketing in Japan. The latest industry reports, articles, and surveys.
Dentsu Inc. One of the largest advertising companies in Japan, Dentsu Inc. keeps track of nationwide advertising expenses by year since 1947. You can look at advertising expenses by industry, by medium, trends in ad spend, and the general expense rate for each media type.
Product pricing research
How should you be pricing your products or services? The following comparison sites give you an overview of product prices in your business category, as well as a look at what the top sellers are for many shopping categories:
Shoply. A site that compares prices of major online shopping portals, where you can take a look at top-selling items on each site.
Kakaku. From cars and PCs to clothes and foodstuffs, this site compares everything from every conceivable genre. You can refine your search by price point and reviews.
Hikaku. Covering a vast range of products, Hikaku.com is one of the top comparison sites in Japan.
Market research reports
Compiling marketing research yourself can be a time-consuming task. The following Japanese companies publish widely read industry reports and analyses, many of which are accessible for free:
Nomura Research Institute. Founded in 1965, NRI is a well-established and trusted Japanese company, providing consulting and research services to businesses in Japan and abroad.
The Japan Research Institute, Limited. Founded in 1969, JRI is committed to the “dissemination of information that contributes to accurate economic forecasts and the creation of a vibrant society.” Some of their industry reports are available in English.
Daiwa Institute of Research Group. A Japanese thinktank publishing research on the economy, social issues, and their recommendations. Summaries of their industry reports are available in English.
Market-centric news sites that Japanese executives use
Wondering what sites Japanese executives frequent to get their news? Here are some favorites that come highly recommended:
ITmedia focuses on technology-related news, targeting IT, engineers, and manufacturers.
PRESIDENT Online is the website version of the monthly print magazine focused on present-day business-related information and news for a younger business demographic.
Market research companies for Japan
Looking for a full-service market research firm that provides qualitative and quantitative research for Japan? What about a boutique market research firm that can help with numerous client challenges?
Here are some of the better-known Japanese consumer research firms that conduct research in Japan and work with international clients.
CarterJMRN is a Japan-based strategic market research agency led by Dominic Carter and Debbie Howard that guides leading brands in understanding the Japanese market. They employ a range of methodologies, including UX, surveys, focus groups, and more, combined with a deep understanding of cultural and emerging trends. Their insights aim to power excellence in human-centered decisions for a larger business impact. Their services cover a host of methodologies intended to reveal consumer insights.
CoDigital, inc. is a digital marketing agency based in Tokyo, Japan. Their main services encompass a wide range of digital marketing strategies and solutions. These include Advertising, Search Engine Optimization (SEO), Marketing, Key Opinion Leader (KOL) Marketing, Social Media Management, and Research. They also offer services in Marketing Strategy development, Translation, and Data Analysis. Their comprehensive suite of services aims to cater to the diverse needs of businesses in the digital marketing landscape.
ASMARQ Co., Ltd.
ASMARQ is a market research company that has obtained the international standard "JIS Y20252 (ISO20252) Market Research Services". They offer high-quality services with a network of researchers and moderators who have expertise in both quantitative and qualitative research services. They have more than 20 partners in Japan, reaching out to over 16 million panel members nationwide. Their services include qualitative research, quantitative research, data collection/fieldwork, and consultancy/analysis.
Sugata Research is a Japan-based agency that provides market research solutions and brings a more personal approach to qualitative research. They have experience in a variety of research methodologies, including traditional desk research, semiotic analysis, UX focused interviews, immersive home-visits, and depth interviews and focus groups. They have worked on projects related to wellness, smartphone design preferences, virtual reality usage, online storage, and visual search.
Humble Bunny is a Tokyo-based web design and digital marketing company. They offer services such as search optimization and paid advertising (SEM & SEO), website design and development, and content marketing. Their content marketing services include copywriting, email marketing, and social media management. They have experience working with big brands and have received positive feedback from their clients.
Zo Digital Japan
Zo Digital Japan is a SEO & Digital Marketing Agency based in Tokyo, with bilingual consultants who are data-driven specialists dedicated to helping foreign and local businesses succeed in Japan. The agency works with overseas companies entering Japan and Japanese companies focusing on foreign and Japanese visitors. They provide support for in the B2B and B2C space, as well as EC Sites and Lead Generation Sites.
A tip for conducting market research in Japanese
If you want to try your hand at conducting Japanese market research on your own, here are the kanji to affix to the terms you are searching:
Industry + 市場規模 (shijyoukibo = market size)
Industry + 市場調査 (shijyouchyousa = market survey)
Category + 利用者数 (riyoushasuu = number of users)
Category + 利用動向 (riyoudoucou = utilization trend)
Frequently asked questions on market research Japan
What is the approach of Japanese companies to market research?
Japanese companies often conduct surveys with consumers who have actually bought or used a product.
Who are the top market research companies in Japan?
Some of the top market research firms in Japan include CarterJMRN, CoDigital, inc., ASMARQ Co., Ltd., GMO Research, Sugata Research, and Humble Bunny.
Conducting market research like a Japanese involves a deep understanding of the local culture, language, popular media campaigns, and consumer behavior. It requires the use of specific Japanese terms and a regular check on relevant sites that provide industry-specific and B2B statistics, consumer reports, emerging market segments, and market analytics.
Remember, the key to successful market research is not just about gathering data but interpreting it in a way that provides actionable insights. So, whether you're a seasoned market researcher or a novice, these resources will help you navigate the Japanese market with ease and confidence. Happy researching!