What are the trends, challenges, and opportunities in the influencer marketing field of Japan?
Usually, “trend,” “challenge,” and “opportunity” are different according to each nation or region. I believe influencer marketing is a marketing method globally, but it is no exception because influencer marketing deals with the human except for virtual (CGI) influencer. I work for a Japanese digital agency for a long time. Therefore, I analyze these three perspectives (trend, challenge, opportunity) in the Japanese influencer marketing field from the standpoint of the global market.
I feel the fundamental patterns in Japan are similar to other foreign countries. For example, many marketers in the Japanese brand started shifting from big-sized influencers to small-sized influencers like micro and nano recently. If I’m forced to say something, I feel the DTC (Direct To Consumer) business is the key in Japan. Some influencers started marketing their own brand through the DTC model. At the same time, many agencies and start-ups began to support such influencers as a new service. I believe the market size of the sponsored post by influencers will grow smoothly over time. But, many marketers and entrepreneurs pay attention to the potential of the non-ad field collaborated with great influencers. The DTC is the strongest contender at the moment.
Unfortunately, there are still several challenges like a fake, fraud, bot, and so on in the influencer marketing field globally. The Japanese market is no exception. Except for them, in my opinion, the lack of technology is the most severe problem in Japan. I have been working for a Japanese digital agency for more than 15 years. I realized that many marketers in the brand and agency tried to deal with the daily routine by hand. As a result of that, Many Japanese marketers are tied up by daily duties. Such an environment makes it difficult for them to try to create something new or innovative.
The reason why Japan lacks technology in this field might be that Japan has unique business customs. When it comes to the marketing field, the agency has a lot of clouts in the market. Almost all Japanese brands entrust their marketing activities, including influencer campaigns, to their agency. Few brands take advantage of marketing tools by themselves compared to the global market. To be precise, some Japanese start-ups have provided dedicated influencer marketing tools, but the penetration rate is not necessarily high. Some global companies like indaHash, Klear, NeoReach already expanded their business to the Japanese market, but I don’t feel they are enough.
As I mentioned above, I feel Japan is falling behind in technology. The share of the influencer marketing market is not necessarily significant. However, I don’t take a pessimistic view of the Japanese market because the Japanese market is inherently attractive to global companies, and according to some social media platformers, the consumers in Japan are unique and active more than other foreign markets.
Japan has the third biggest advertising market in the world. The second-biggest market is the Chinese market. But, as you know, the Chinese market is unique and independent of the so-called global market. Therefore, I heard that some global social media platformers regarded the Japanese market as the actual second-biggest market next to the US market.
They say the Japanese users are active and unique. For example, according to Facebook, the number of “hashtag” search on Instagram in Japan is about three times compared to the average of the global market. About 70 percent of active users have already utilized Stories daily. As a result of that, not only Instagram but also Twitter decided to build their development team in Japan for the first time except for their headquarter (USA). I think it means a lot.
As unbelievable as it sounds, I don’t necessarily think that the level of the Japanese companies in the influencer marketing field is low. If the obstacle between the Japanese market and the global market disappear or less intense, some Japanese start-ups might be able to expand their unique and sophisticated service to the worldwide market in the not-so-distant future, and of course, vice versa. I guess some global companies like tech-provider would venture into the Japanese market in 2020 and beyond. Many Japanese brands would take advantage of the marketing tool or new solution that the global company can provide step by step.
I believe there is essentially no so-called border in the social media world. The more marketing methods get mature and sophisticated, the less there is the border. I have to say there are few global companies in the Japanese market at the moment, but such a situation would change sooner or later. If the border disappears and the Japanese brands take advantage of new tools and solutions for granted, even the definition of influencer or influencer marketing might change over time. I basically promise an optimistic outlook of the influencer world in Japan, and I’m looking forward to seeing the new landscape then.