Overview of Japan
Unlike many Asian markets which are bursting onto the scene, Japan’s well-established market has a long history of acquisition and development. Although the country has suffered through a long recession, there are indicators that the recession is ending and slow to moderate growth can be expected. Finally, Japan enjoys a modern legal system based on civil law, parliamentary government, and well-defined business code (Isenberg, 2005).
Benefits of Doing Business in Japan
For any company entering a market, it’s important to understand the available customer base. Company X’s family of mobility products, by their nature, are often appealing to individuals in the over-65 market segment. Over 21% of Japan’s population is over the age of 65. This is a market over more than 26 million seniors. Thanks to adequate health care, the average life expectancy in Japan is over 80 years. Finally, Japan enjoys a low 4% unemployment rate and a distribution of income more equitable than the United States (Central Intelligence Agency, 2008).
Cultural Factors to Consider
According to the Geert Hofstede framework of cultural dimensions, Japan can be said to fall into the typical Asian model. In the Power Distance Index, Japan ranks in the middle. This index is much higher than that of the United States and indicates that lower ranking members of organizations are more accepting of the power gap between them and their superiors. Japan’s Individualism score is very low indicating a culture that expects individuals to work together for common goals. Members of these cultures tend form tighter bonds of extended groups and families. Japan’s high Masculinity score indicates a culture that is driven by achievement and materialism. Additionally, cultures that rank high in Masculinity tend to be highly assertive. The next cultural indicator is Uncertainty Avoidance. Once again, Japan scored very high in this dimension. Japanese culture is not accepting of uncertainty or ambiguity. The results of this are a society that is driven by rules designed to direct the outcome of any situation. Finally, Japan has a high Long-Term Orientation score. Japan’s culture is long-term oriented and concerned with thrift and perseverance (“Japan”, n.d.).
Recommendations for Business Approach
Japan is an excellent market for Company X to move into. As a culture that places great value on extended family relationships, it can be expected that selling mobility products will be helped by family members’ own desires to help their loved ones. Additionally, a Japanese sales force can be expected to thrive under the leadership of non-local management if that management can prove it has the experience to lead. Non-local managers must be assertive when dealing with local salespeople.
Central Intelligence Agency. (2008). Japan. The World Factbook. Retrieved January 24, 2009.
Isenberg, D. (2005). Entering the Japanese market. J@pan Inc. Retrieved January 24, 2009, from Academic Search Premier database.
Japan. (n.d.) Geert Hofstede Cultural Dimensions. Retrieved January 24, 2009.