The Authenticity Report – Japan ​Headlines
Japanese consumers expecting a complete story from companies

Expectations of Customer benefits (better value, customer care, innovation) are the most important in all but one of the categories studied. But in line with other countries Japanese consumers also want to know more about the behavior of people behind the products and services they buy and the company’s contribution to society. Taken together expectations of Management behaviors (doing right, consistent performance, credible communications) and Society outcomes (employee care, community impact and care of environment) account for one third of all consumer expectations. In some industries the balance is 50:50.


Most companies face complex gaps on better value

Consumer expectations of better value rank No. 1 in 12 of the 19 categories studied and No. 2 in the other seven. Yet astonishingly 82% of companies have gaps on better value. Delivering better value to Japanese consumers is complex. Around equal numbers of engaged consumers see value as some combination of more convenient access to products and services, no hidden costs after purchase, transparent pricing and being recognized by experts as best in class. As might be expected, different aspects of value are more important in some categories than others.


Innovation is now expected as business as usual in Japan

Consumers in half of the industries studied rank innovation as their No.1 or No.2 expectation. Driven by expectations of technology, innovation in many forms is now expected as the norm in all industries. Consumers expect companies to be innovative in all aspects of their business and in their relationships with all stakeholders. Just under half of Japanese companies are exceeding expectations of innovation.


More companies face gaps on customer care than any other expectation

Japanese consumers’ expectations of customer care are as high as they are for innovation. But companies have work to do to meet these expectations; 92% of companies have gaps on customer care. That’s significantly more than for any other driver, not just in Japan but also in every country studied.


Three quarters of all companies studied fall short, or only just meet, consumers’ expectations of doing right

At a time of recent corporate scandals Japanese consumers don’t see companies doing the right thing. Although it’s more complex than ever for CEOs the best way for a company to demonstrate its commitment to doing the right thing is to operate its business transparently. To make this stick with consumers they need to create sustainable products and services and to operate with the highest ethical standards.


Japan has most companies delivering consistent performance

A full 86% of companies are seen to be exceeding expectations of consistent operational and financial performance in Japan. That’s substantially more than in every other country studied. In Japan as in other countries expectations of consistent performance are middle ranked.


Performance with purpose is not just about the environment

Overall expectations of Society outcomes (employee care, community impact, care of environment) are lower in Japan than in other countries. Yet more companies in Japan have gaps on employee care and community impact than they do in US, Canada, UK and Germany. Expectations of care of the environment are more typical — and a comparable 44% of companies are exceeding them. When companies operating in Japan think of performance with purpose it is important they recognize consumers’ expectations that care of environment, employee care and community impact – in that order – all make up a company’s contribution to Japanese society.


To take care of their employees Japanese companies are expected to communicate honestly and frequently about company issues

Japanese consumers expect companies to communicate honestly and frequently with their employees, providing them with regular information about how company matters might affect them. This outweighs offering comprehensive benefits. It is different from all other countries except Germany, where employee communication is also No.1.


Companies are a more valued source of information than mainstream media

In many categories Japanese consumers now put more stock in information coming directly from the company than they do information coming from mainstream media. Perhaps surprisingly, almost three quarters of companies fall short of expectations of credible communications. But expectations are not highly ranked; consumers do not expect companies to communicate frequently and credibly, hampering companies’ ability to tell their story.


In Japan better value and credible communications drive advocacy

Peoples’ support or opposition for companies to increase their business presence and employment opportunities in their community is most strongly linked to two of the nine drivers. There are strong positive correlations between local advocacy and better value; consumers are very willing to advocate for companies that are seen to offer better value. There are also strong correlations between advocacy and credible communications. These correlations are both positive and negative; consumers are very willing to advocate for companies that communicate credibly – but won’t for companies that don’t.