While the world is in the era of booming e-commerce, Japan stands out as a unique market where traditional offline purchases continue to hold substantial sway, particularly for day-to-day purchases like groceries, daily necessities, and clothing.
According to market research in 2023 April*, more than 90% of consumers continue to buy groceries, more than 80% of consumers buy daily necessities, while more than 60% buy clothes in physical stores.
*Research and reports by Deloitte Tohmatsu
Understanding the complexity of Japanese consumer behavior, which involves a blend of online research and offline purchases, is vital for businesses aiming to thrive in this dynamic market.
The Strength of Offline Purchases
Despite the global surge in e-commerce, Japanese consumers maintain a strong preference for offline purchases. It is because they value the tactile experience of physically inspecting products, especially when it comes to items that directly impact their daily lives. The trust in seeing and touching a product before purchase remains a significant factor in Japanese consumer decision-making.
The Role of E-Commerce and Brand Website
While offline purchases are still strong in some sectors, the significance of e-commerce cannot be understated. Japanese consumers heavily rely on online platforms for information gathering and product research. A robust online presence is no longer a luxury but a necessity for businesses aiming to capture the attention of the Japanese market. This emphasizes that having a well-designed website is not just an option; it’s a strategic imperative. The website serves as a virtual storefront, providing consumers with essential information about products, pricing, and the company itself. Japanese consumers often engage in thorough online research, seeking detailed product descriptions, customer reviews, and company background. A well-crafted website that fulfills these informational needs can significantly influence consumer trust and confidence.
Synergy between Online and Offline
To navigate the nuances of Japanese consumer behavior, businesses must bridge the gap between online and offline channels. The key is to view e-commerce and physical stores not as competitors but as complementary elements in the customer journey. This calls for a cohesive strategy where information available online aligns with the in-store experience. For instance, a customer researching a product online should find consistent information when visiting a physical store, fostering a sense of continuity and reliability.
Leveraging technology to enhance the in-store experience, such as providing digital kiosks with detailed product information or integrating online customer reviews into the physical shopping environment is another successful integration of the two.
Creating a cohesive consumer journey that seamlessly transitions between online research and offline purchases is essential for meeting the evolving expectations of the Japanese consumer.