• Samurai Incubate Israel

Stairway to Japan — First steps towards success

Written by Samurai’s intern — Elin Furman

These days, the Asian market is well known as a fast-growing market, in various business sectors. Japan holds a great share of the economic growth in the area, and with all this power comes countless business opportunities — especially to startup companies who are looking for ways to share their innovative idea with the world. So how do you get your startup to flourish in Japan?


The following are four key areas to explore before taking your first steps in the Japanese market.



1. Structure of the market in relevant fields:

In order to estimate the success of your startup in Japan (or any other country), it is necessary to understand the current situation of the field to which you wish to enter. If you want to understand the possibility of success, it is important to check what is currently happening in the market in terms of size and trends in the field of your startup, and to find out if there are already competing companies doing something similar, whether these are local companies or foreign companies operating in the local market.


Recommended Action Items:

· First, it is important to understand your competitor’s ways of action. Build an excel file with all the information you can get (from online & offline sources) about their marketing methods, target audience, best seller products, traffic on website (it’s recommended to use Similar web tool), and any other data that will help you get to know your competitors better.

· Now build a positioning map with all your competitors and try to understand where you’re standing and how you can improve your position.


2. Localization of the product:

The success of an original or advanced product in one market or country does not necessarily mean it will equally succeed in a different country; or, at least, not without necessary changes and adaptations to the target market. Before you start building your brand in Japan, check what association your name and logo creates in the target market and create a strong image from the beginning, accordingly. It is important not to simply translate your content but to localize it and the product.


Recommended Action Items:

· Build a diverse (local) focus group and ask questions about their perceptions, opinions, beliefs, and attitudes towards your product and service.

· Process all the information and according to the insights, make changes in your product. This procedure will help you localize your product.


3. Marketing:

As is known, marketing is a flexible and amorphous field that adapts itself to the target audience and the local culture. Because the Japanese culture is unique, it should be kept in mind that using the same marketing tactic that was successful in a western country may not hit the target in a different country, and might convey a false message that in turn will reduce the success of your product. The solution includes searching for information about the means and methods of marketing that are accepted in Japan, generally, and specifically in your field. Once you understand the local marketing methods, make sure to act accordingly, and to market your service in ways that will reach out to the local users or customers.


Recommended Action Items:

· More information equals more trust. The Japanese target audience love to consume a lot of information about products. Make sure to stay as clear and informative as you can.

· If your target audience is above 65 years old, you may consider shifting your marketing efforts to print versions (Newsletters and magazines). Every day, more than 10 million newsletters are distributed to the elderly population in Japan.


4. Future plans: opening a branch?

Consider whether you should open a local branch or whether you should use a local distributor or the Internet to provide your services. At this point, you should consider whether your product or service requires in-person advice and customer service, or that the service can be provided online. Of course, this is something that can probably be reconsidered and changed further down the road.


Entering a foreign market can be challenging and very interesting, especially when it comes to the fascinating Japanese market. Therefore, preliminary research is recommended and helps a lot later on.



Our team at Samurai Incubate Israel is dedicated to taking ventures from the very basic stages to greater heights, and to later connect them to the Japanese market. With our large community in Israel and our strong connection to the corporate world and the ecosystem in both countries, our team is constantly looking to create and strengthen the bridge between Japan and Israel by combining Japan’s industry with Israel’s cutting edge technology and innovative spirit.

For further information, check our website — https://www.samurai-incubate-israel.asia/

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