More and more, the Japanese are using social media to get informed on a mass of subjects, but also to shop. As they tend to ask for advice from their entourage, these users are thus less impressionable through advertising. As a result, this leads to a behavioural modification. Beforehand, the Japanese preferred to pay more in order to get better quality. With the anonymity offered by the internet however, a bridge between the customs of North-Americans and the Japanese can be seen. In fact, the Japanese have begun to buy cheaper products thanks, among others, to the mass arrival of online shops.Read More
The division of social networks into sub-groups means that the networks connect the public more precisely. The people of Japan and their unique culture have enabled the hatching of networks that are, on the whole, only used by the Japanese. The major players, such as Facebook, are practically unused in the country and are disregarded in favour of sites such as Mixi, Gree and Mbga. Mixi, which allows a user to open an account by providing a Japanese cell phone number, currently has over 21 million users. Gree, which is aimed at the young, has recently become the most popular social network in Japan with 21.25 million registered users. The success of certain social media is linked to the considerable interest that the young Japanese have in video and online games. MGBA, the leading site in this regard, is one example of these social media that targets a very specific audience and that achieves success. In comparison, Facebook is used by less than 2 million Japanese.
The weak popularity of Facebook in Japan can be explained partly because Mixi and Gree have functions that are very similar to those offered by the American giant. The Japanese adaptation of Facebook however, is not enough to convince the young to use this network. Mixi and Gree, being Japanese products for the Japanese, understand more the tastes, customs and interests of its users. It is thus normal that these networks are more popular in Japan.
Several communities are created within these social networks based around a specific interest. Each network has its own audience that is often specifically targeted: white-collar workers, women, young people, fans of online gaming, etc. As a result, it is important for companies wishing to communicate with their customers to establish a presence on all major social networks. This allows them to further understand potential customers and to create loyalty among their current customers.Read More
The strong penetration of the Internet in Japan has resulted in a very sophisticated use of it by the Japanese. They use powerful online tools and are not hesitant to voice their opinions on them. The opinions of users are published on the Internet and are available to everyone around the world. User access to such efficient communication tools can cause a lot of damage to the brand image of a company. This thus aids to slacken the control companies have over their transmitted messages and increase the power of Internet users. This explains why more and more companies are setting up shop on social networks. Such an emergence on social networks allows users to communicate directly with companies, to put forward their opinions and to influence these companies.Read More
Social media on the Internet have exponentially grown in popularity across the world in recent years. One can find numerous social networks on the Internet, some of which have a very precise target audience. Japan is no exception to this phenomenon.Read More
Food is an integral part of a country’s culture – this is even more applicable in Taiwan where it is common to have four to six meals per day.
- “Have you eaten?” is a common way to greet someone. You’re not expected to reply truthfully. A simple yes is sufficient, no matter the reality.
- The exchange of gifts is very popular in a business context (just like everywhere in Asia). Food is a gift that is greatly appreciated, except if you are invited for a meal at your host’s house. In that case, don’t forget to remove your shoes at the doorway (just like in Japan).
- It is very important to excessively compliment the food when one is invited, and try to serve yourself at least a little bit of everything.
- You are permitted to raise your bowl to your mouth. You must refrain however, from taking something out of your mouth (for example a bone) and placing it on your plate. It whether needs to be put on a plate that is assigned for that or directly on the table.
- Never refuse when you are offered tea, and always participate when there is a toast.
- Conversations are important for your partner to get to know you personally so that he can trust you. Food is a subject that you can discuss, as well as sport, art and culture. Taiwan is particularly renowned for being rich in artwork and cinema productions. Political topics are to be avoided.
To help you maximise your meetings with Japanese partners and avoid offending them, here are five points to look out for:
- Never arrive at a business meeting looking casual. The Japanese place a lot of importance on appearance and it is imperative to always be well dressed (suit and tie), even when the weather is hot and humid.
- The exchange of business cards is much more formal and respectful (as in many Asian countries) than in the West. When you offer your card, it is important to do it holding the card with both hands, and to position it in a way so that the recipient can read it. The same etiquette applies when you receive a card. You must read it attentively, avoid putting it in your pockets and never write on it.
- The handshake is generally accepted and widespread during business meetings. If however, you wish to use the traditional greeting, remember that seniority is very important and that the gradient of the bow must be more pronounced and more repetitive the higher the rank of the recipients.
- Avoid saying “no”, which is considered too direct and could be badly perceived by some people. Instead, get into the habit of using phrases such as “this would be difficult” and “we will look into the possibility”.
- As personal relationships are a prerequisite, it is likely that they will want to get to know you outside of a business context, and thus you will be invited to go drinking or to do some karaoke with them. Go for it, participate! But remember, avoid drinking before the first toast “kanpai” is made, and above all, don’t refill your own glass.