Social Media and Japanese Consumers: The Latest Statistics Are Here

Social Media and Japanese Consumers: The Latest Statistics Are Here

As a business owner or executive in Japan, what should you know about social media and Japanese consumer behavior?  

Which social media platforms did the best at converting users to make purchases? What platform should you use to prompt in-store visits or to get the attention of your Japanese prospects?

Allied Architects Association surveyed 2,900 Internet users on the behaviors that triggered online purchases and other interactions with company accounts in 2020. 

Some of the survey results match patterns similar to those in the US. Yet, certain social media and Japanese consumer behavior statistics might surprise you. 

What social media platform do Japanese use to follow corporate accounts?

Allied Architect's survey asked, "On what social media platform do you follow more than one corporate account?" 

Respondents could select more than one choice, and the results showed Twitter leading the way at 90%, Instagram at 80%, LINE at 80%, Facebook at 74%, and YouTube at 36%.

  1. Twitter 90%

  2. Instagram 80%

  3. LINE 80%

  4. Facebook 74%

  5. YouTube 36%

This snapshot hints at differences in social media use in Japan compared to the US. Typical advice from US-focused marketing companies calls on businesses to establish Facebook or LinkedIn pages when focusing on acquisition marketing.

This logic makes sense if your audience is English-speaking. However, in Japan, a different hierarchy is visible for social media and Japanese consumer behavior, which we reveal in the next section.

Number of monthly active users for social media platforms in Japan

The following table displays the monthly active users for each of Japan's most widely used social media platforms, sourcing the latest published data for each:

  1. LINE 86 million people (Source date: 2020/10)

  2. YouTube 65 million people (Source date: 2020/12)

  3. Twitter 45 million people (Source date: 2017/10)

  4. Instagram 33 million people (Source date: 2019/06)

  5. Facebook 26 million people (Source date: 2019/07)

  6. TikTok 9.5 million people (Source date: 2019/02)

  7. Pinterest 5.3 million people (Source date: 2019/08)

  8. Linkedin 2 million people (Source date: 2020/11)

A key takeaway here is to create a profile on LINE or Twitter if you want to get in front of a Japanese demographic. 

What prompted Japanese to follow a corporate social media account? 

The next question in Allied Architects' survey about Japanese consumer use of social media was "What prompted you to follow/subscribe to a corporate account?" 

The respondents' replies give insight into effective marketing strategy in Japan. 

The leading reason behind why Japanese subscribe to a corporate account was “to enter a promo campaign hosted on social media," which was selected at 91.6% for Twitter users, with "a prompt from the official website or email," coming in second at 35.2%, followed by "as a result of an ad" at 23.3% and "reviews and friend referrals" at 21.7%. 

Other platforms showed a similar hierarchy of user responses. (See following graphic.)

What prompted Japanese to follow a corporate social media account?

Sales campaigns are a highly effective way of grabbing the attention of savings-conscious Japanese consumers, who plan to make purchases during certain times of the year when they know a campaign will likely be launched. (Note: Coming soon—Japanese social media campaign ideas you will want to copy!)

In a subsequent question, the survey asked users their motivation for following corporate accounts. The top choice across all the various social media channels was to "get coupons and news of campaigns and sales" at an approximate selection rate of 86.9%. 

The other choices individuals selected to lesser degrees included "Get information about the latest products," "Get detailed information about my favorite products," and "Get additional information about related services." (See following graphic.)

What is the motivation for Japanese to follow a corporate social media account?

Which social media platform prompted the highest rate of purchase in Japan?

Which websites prompted users to purchase a product from an online site they had previously not shopped at? Instagram took first place here at 60.7%, followed by Twitter at 55.2% and Facebook at 54.4%.

  1. Instagram 60.7%

  2. Twitter 55.2%

  3. Facebook 54.4%

  4. YouTube 53.1%

  5. Line 51.9%

When asked what type of social media post prompted that purchase, the first place across all 5 evaluated platforms was "corporate account's campaigns and coupon posts," with Facebook campaigns scoring the highest at 75.5%. (See following graphic.)

What type of social media post prompted Japanese to make a purchase?

Respondents chose influencers as a trigger for purchasing behavior at a low 10% average across all 5 platforms. Word-of-mouth referrals from friends and family did better than influencers at prompting a purchase at an average of 27.8% across the 5 platforms.

Which social media platform prompted the highest rate of store visits in Japan?

Respondents were asked, "Have you visited a store (retail store or restaurant) for the first time because of a social media post?" Here, Instagram ranked first with 50.5%, with Twitter in second place at 46.0%, and Facebook third at 44.4%. 

  1. Instagram 50.5%

  2. Twitter 46%

  3. Facebook 44.4%

  4. YouTube 44%

  5. LINE 41.6%

When respondents were asked what specific content triggered their first in-store visit, all 5 platforms' first place pick had to do with corporate account campaigns, coupons, and related posts. 

But a prominent second and third place showing for all platforms was word-of-mouth referrals by friends and followers, achieving an average of 54.7% selection rate. Interestingly, influencers prompted much fewer in-store visits, reaching an average of 13.8% across the 5 social media platforms. (See following graphic.)

What type of social media post prompted Japanese to make a first-time in-store visit?

Instagram's strong visual factor contributes to bringing visitors to stores. So if you're looking for foot traffic, you might want to consider Instagram and combine it with ways to encourage your visitors to post to social media about their experiences. 

Closing thoughts

This survey provides a necessary reminder that not all dearly held US-sourced marketing tips are transferrable to Japan's social media landscape. Even within this survey itself, there are aspects that will not hold true to the specific Japanese demographic you are trying to reach. 

Ask yourself, "Where is my Japanese audience active?" to hone in on where to target your efforts. 

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