Western holidays tend to dominate the world. When it comes to Christmas, or other large e-commerce events, you can feel the effects even in Japan. Even if these holidays are present in some way, each country has its own unique internal perspective.

Through this article, we’ll explore how Western holidays are perceived in Japan, and how you can use them to market correctly to the Japanese. Here are 3 ways you can adapt your holiday strategy to Japanese customers:

1. Halloween is not a spooky event, but purely for entertainment

When it comes to the words “Trick or Treat”, probably you imagine the harvest season from your own cultural background. Yes, but in Japan, it might seem a bit insane, as it’s observed mainly in Tokyo. Japanese Halloween market has been rapidly increasing over the past few years, it surpassed in 2015, $1.2 billion sales, owing to various goods profits, and held numerous events related to this holiday.

One of the most famous places, a large intersection in central Tokyo called Shibuya Crossing (think Times Square, NYC), was crowded with thousands of people, almost all dressing up in cosplay, anime characters, sports athletes, other popular fashionable styles.

Social elimination would play significant role with this surging trend. Many post on Instagram and Twitter to show off their vivid costume, it satisfied with their social connection.

Interestingly, the next day of Halloween, it would come to the quietly circumstances, because we temporarily go to this entertainment, but it’s kind of shortly withering flower, people back to the usual life.

Recently, foreign resides, travelers also participating in this activity, hearing from my friends, even it’s different from outside, but Japanese originally culture inclusion, so much fun to spend as an entertainment.

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So if you’re planning to tap into the Japanese e-commerce market for Halloween, leave the spooky realistic costumes at home, and try for more pop-culture references. Focus on the fun aspect!

2. Remember the year, but say we should forget it?

If you ever spend time in Japan, you might find the words the interesting: “忘年会”, that means, remember the annual event, and remember it for next year.

The Kanji shows “忘年会”, actually, forget the year, but we interpret it as you should remember it. A “忘年会” party intends to create deeper relations among the business contacts, family, and others. It is said to derive from the mix of numerous religious customs, and became a party with alcohol, food, tricks and jokes for fun.

忘年会 is the key event for all companies or personal activity, as in the last articles, for engaging  relationships in business, drinking the alcohol is one of the major components of it. 忘年会 is the memorable party for presenting the opportunity to share ideas and genuine communication between existing business partners.

While for Westerners, the New Year is a symbol of new beginnings, for Japanese customers, this is a time to exchange ideas and welcome the new year with meaningful exchanges. Center your strategy around fostering that kind of cozy, familial, and jovial atmosphere when communicating during this time. 

3. Happy New Year, is Akemashite Omedetou Gozaimasu

Japanese New Years greeting, Akemeashite Omedetou Gozaimasu, means to celebrate the beginning of the new year. Omedetou means the same as congratulations, Akemashite is the coming of the New Year.

At this time, we often spend the time with our family or relatives to talk about recent topics, or visit and pray at grave of their ancestors. Traditional food would be catering Osechi dishes.

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Osechi has been started to be sold, beforehand to coming new year, early last October, to November is busy for ordering. E-commerce is radically growing channel for companies selling the Osechi reservations. 

These 3 events are notable for talking about Japanese topics, but as well as people change and adapt, the market will shift as well. The Halloween market is overwhelmingly growing due of social media empowerment, people want to share their participation or other cosplay appearances. Import from Western countries is one of the main channels for them to discover goods that aren’t sold in Japan.

Though Christmas is not touched on in this article, it’s another huge potential market in Japan. Over $6 billion is spent each  year, including presents, events or food. Specifically toy brands, ToysR’Us, or classic brands, Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Chanel, Tiffany, sell accessories as presents between adults, or to kids from their parents.

Compared to the bubble era, it has decreased the volume, but sustains a stable market size. Its recommended to aim for the event when launching a commerce in Japan.

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