If you are seriously thinking about marketing to the Japanese tourist, it is advantageous to know more about them, their preferences and behaviour - and to know more about what they expect from their well-earned holidays!   It is, of course, not essential to be a "Japan expert" but just a little knowledge about Japanese culture and expectations will go a long way.   

Using our extensive knowledge and experience in both the UK and here in Japan, Iponics Japan can advise on these matters in order to maximize the effect of your Japanese language website.

On this page:
Demographics & Recent travel trends
Cultural considerations and caring for the Japanese visitor

Demographics & Recent Travel Trends

Population: 127.2 million
Life expectancy: Men - 78 years;  Women - 84 years - this  represents the highest in the world
Proportion of the
total population aged 65+ 
17.9% and will exceed 1:4 by the year 2015.  
This “greying” of society is accompanied by changing lifestyles.
Japanese now have increased free time and travel is viewed as part of a balanced lifestyle

Japan remains a very rich country with enormous personal savings, and is currently the second largest economy in the world with long-term prospects remaining optimistic.  The number of Japanese travelling abroad during 2002 was 16.52 million, this represents an increase 1.9% on the previous year.  Below are some statistics concerning the Japanese tourist:

Outbound travel:

Asia     43.1
US mainland   8.9%
Canada   3.0%
Hawaii & Pacific   16.7%
Oceania   5.5%
Europe   17.6%
 Others   5.1%
Purpose of travel:
Tourism   66.5%
Business   11.6%
Visiting family/friends    5.7%

Male/female ratio:

Male   55.2% (9.12 million)
Female     44.8% (7.40 million)

Strong Markets:

Women in their 20's      2.10 million
Men in their 30's      2.04 million

Arranging travel:

Package tours    48.2%
Individually arranged   37.1% (increasing)
Group travel   6.2%

Package tours make up the largest section of all travellers, accounting for 48.2% of the total outbound market.  The number of individuals arranging their own travel, however, has increased - and now accounts for 37.1% of the market.  This trend seems set to continue with more people positive about organizing their own holidays.  

The Japanese traveller has become more and more discerning, sophisticated and independent.  This results in an increasing number of people taking responsibility for their own travel plans and also actively seeking value for money and time and lifestyle experiences.

Cultural considerations & caring for the Japanese visitor

Japanese travellers want more opportunities to observe local culture, history and daily life - they want to "experience Britain". The British way of life is highly respected, and the Japanese generally have a very positive image of the country. 

An important factor of success in the Japanese market lies in making efforts to understand the Japanese customer’s mind. The Japanese emphasize quality, human relationships, perseverance, value-for-money and long-term commitment.

The Japanese are certainly discerning and demanding customers.  A little extra care or attention to their needs can make a big difference.  

Below are a few issues to consider when dealing with Japanese guests.

Presenting the potential traveller with some information in Japanese is highly recommended - whether that be in the form of pamphlets, info guides and travel information, etc.  Probably the most effective way of providing all of this information is online.
  Quality products:
The Japanese tourist may spend a lot, but value-for-money is important to them.
  Quality service: 
Back home, the Japanese are used to the highest levels of service - quick, polite and considerate service is the norm and they will notice when service levels are not up to par.
  Quiet feedback: 
The customers may give little immediate feedback - good or bad.  This is often because they are too embarrassed or not confident in their ability to communicate.  However, they will certainly communicate when they get back to Japan - creating potentially very good or very bad word-of-mouth.
  Attention to detail:
The Japanese generally like and notice small touches and details.
  A "British Experience":
They have made a big effort to travel to Britain and so they want to "experience Britain" when they are in the country.  The bottom line is - be prepared to offer a British experience, but one that is sensitive to customer needs.
Japanese travellers are very sensitive on safety issues.

Iponics Japan, being based in Japan and with both British and Japanese staff, have experience and knowledge of the Japanese market.  More information on our company can be found here, and details of some of our clients can be found here.  

Source of statistical information: VisitBritain (www.visitbritain.com).
We would like to extend our thanks to VisitBritain for their cooperation
and permission to use this information.