How Japanese Companies Market Products

It’s fun to pay attention to the ways Japanese products are marketed and sold. While weird and crazy Japanese TV commercials sometimes spread to the West, it’s important to remember that the “lens of the Internet” causes us to see more of these insane advertisements and fewer of the vanilla ads that are actually more common. Let’s look at some recent Japanese marketing trends…

  • Anime is more popular than ever, and anime characters are being licensed for companies to promote their products. The girls of Pop Team Epic were recently in a TV commercial for a fashion magazine, Haruhi has been used to sell chewing gum, and Your Name creator Makoto Shinkai was hired to create a commercial for a construction company that was building an airport in Vietnam. There are also lots of tie-up products sold in convenience stores.
  • Since English is kakko ii or “cool,” English is often used for product names, often with predictably bizarre results. Some of the snacks and drinks we’ve sold over the years have included names like Pocari Sweat, Glico Cream Collon and Crunky Ball Nude. There’s a popular men’s fashion magazine called Men’s Fudge, and a line of low-calorie alcoholic drinks marketed to women (phoenetically) called “Slut.”
  • A decade or so ago a big Japanese marketing trend was try to get viewers to search the web for a specific keyword which would bring them to the company’s website. This is a twist on the classic “call to action” that’s known as web誘導 web yuudou, meaning redirection to the web.
  • Japanese companies always try to avoid making untrue product statements in their ads. If you watch a toothpaste commercial closely, the toothpaste will always leave a little dirt on the teeth, so that the company isn’t claiming 100% effectiveness. Once you notice this, you see it everywhere.
  • Unlike the U.S., making direct comparisons between competitor’s products is not allowed.

Recently one of the biggest Japanese marketing trends is to rebrand every product as STRONG, with just about every product category giving into the temptation. Kirin has a STRONG version of its lager beer with a higher alcohol percent (9%) which matches Suntory’s line of canned chuhai drinks. We’ve even got some of these products on the site, like STRONG pepper potato chips, and even a STRONG ERO catgirl onahole that’s using the word to catch the attention of customers. Because it’s always nice to buy a STRONG product.

New Magazines From Japan

Great news! All the new anime magazines for the month have come in, and they’re gorgeous. Anime magazines like Megami Magazine, loaded with free posters, E2, which has a great focus on top Japanese artists, and Dengeki Moeoh, for fans of the sexy side of anime. Browse them all here.

About the author

Peter Payne

I live in Japan and I run J-List, an anime shop famous for shimapan and Tentacle Grape. I love being able to bring Japanese culture to the world.