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Japan market research and recruitment

Japan is the third-largest economy in the world and the eleventh most populous country. However, Japan’s long-term economic growth may be challenged by a low birthrate and consequently an aging, shrinking population.

Japan is the third-largest economy in the world and the eleventh most populous country. However, Japan’s long-term economic growth may be challenged by a low birthrate and consequently an aging, shrinking population.

Through its government-industry cooperation, a strong work ethic, mastery of high technology, and a comparatively small defence allocation (slightly less than 1% of GDP), Japan has developed a technologically advanced economy over the past 70 years.

Japan produces motor vehicles, electronic equipment, machine tools, steel and nonferrous metals, ships, chemicals, textiles and processed foods. Overall, its industry sector contributes around 29% of GDP. Given the scarcity of critical natural resources, Japan has long been importing energy and raw materials and today it is the world’s largest importer of coal and liquefied natural gas and the second largest importer of oil.

There are a number of important points to bear in mind when planning market research in Japan:

  • Japanese respondents tend to be very deferential towards older people and those in more senior positions, which makes it more challenging to run focus groups in Japan than elsewhere, particularly for B2B research
  • Many Japanese people work very long hours during the week, so it is a good idea to include some weekend time slots in your research plan
  • Typically, it also takes longer to organise research in Japan than in other countries to it is a good idea to build an extra week or so into your standard research timeline.

When it comes to locations, Tokyo and the Kinki or Kansai region (centred on Osaka) are the most popular centres for market research.

Population (2021 estimate):
125.7 million
GDP (USD, 2021):
$4937 billion
GDP per capita (International $ at PPP, 2021):
$42 940
Yen (JPY or ¥)
Largest urban areas (by population, 2020 estimates):
Tokyo (37.4 million)
Kinki or Kansai (Kyoto/Osaka/Kobe) (19.3 million)
Chukyo (Nagoya) (9.6 million)
Kitakyushu/Fukuoka (5.5. million)
Shizuoka/Hamamatsu (2.9 million)
Sapporo (2.7 million)
Sendai (2.3 million)
Hiroshima (2.1 million)

Related Case Studies

21-day Online Bulletin Board with Android users in Japan and Korea

We were asked to recruit 25-30 respondents in Japan and 25-30 in Korea for a 21-day Online Bulletin Board (OBB). Respondents needed to be Android users, and explore new apps and games on their phone frequently. Our client was also interested in a mix of people who played games on their phone versus those who do not, as well as people who spend money on mobile apps and games versus non-spenders.

Before starting with the online activities, respondents were asked to take part in a 20-minute Zoom interview so the client could explain the research process and how to use the online bulletin board. The 21-day diary period started after this initial entry interview was completed. Every time the respondent naturally were going to log onto the app store, they had to screen record and talk freely about their journey on the store. At the end of the 21 days, respondents were asked to participate in another 20 minute online Zoom interview, where they talked about their experience of, and feedback on, the Google Play store. 

FieldworkHub successfully recruited 67 respondents, exceeding the number of completes required by the client, despite the difficulty of finding respondents who could commit to this very lengthy project. FieldworkHub reminded respondents of their participation and kept them committed throughout the four weeks of the study.

Online triads in 14 countries with teenagers and young adults who listen to streamed audio content

A well-known audio streaming platform wanted to understand the audio consumption habits of members of Gen Z in 14 different countries: Canada, Mexico, Brazil, Germany, Spain, Italy, France, Australia, India, Japan, the UAE, the Philippines, Singapore and Indonesia. FieldworkHub was tasked with finding 30 participants in total (18 aged 15-19 and 12 aged 20-24) who all spoke English and listened to some form of audio at least once per week on the client’s platform.

There were two stages of research; Stage 1 consisted of screening in profiles and collecting 2-minute selfie videos to demonstrate their articulation, enthusiasm, and creativity.  Stage 2 consisted of ten 90-minute online triads via Zoom, which we scheduled to take into account the various time zones involved.

After the main part of the research was completed, we also worked with the client to arrange for photographers to visit some of the participants so that their photos could be included in the report which the client was preparing to showcase the findings.

Online survey for professionals buyers of advertising media in Japan and Australia

A global technology company wanted to collect feedback about their digital advertising platform from professional media buyers around the world. It was facing challenges in obtaining sufficient responses in Australia and Japan from media professionals who had decision-making authority and budget oversight.

We were brought in to manage a qualitative recruitment process that aimed to pick up around 30 more respondents who worked for the media departments of traditional integrated advertising agencies, specialist media buying agencies, or performance (pay-per-click) ad agencies based on a detailed screener. Respondents who screened in were then asked to complete a 15-20 minute online survey which had already been used in other markets.

This was a challenging recruit because the end client needed to obtain feedback from larger customers and representatives of the leading multi-national ad agencies which were fewer in number and harder to engage with than people working for smaller agencies. Nevertheless, with support from in-country specialists, FieldworkHub was able to find 28 respondents in Australia and 32 respondents in Japan, almost 90% of whom went on to complete the quantitative questionnaire. This enabled the global survey work to be concluded successfully and the results and insights delivered to the end client.

FieldworkHub is an agile, knowledgeable market research fieldwork agency providing high-quality focus group recruitment as part of our full range of qualitative and quantitative fieldwork services.
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