By: Lilia Hauenstein (@ukulilia11


Food. A necessity in our lives we hold near and dear to our hearts. It’s a common topic we all share, but it differs all over the world. Most distinctively, Japan is at the top of the list when it comes to unique food culture. From a business standpoint, there are many aspects to consider when it comes to satisfying Japanese appetites.

I studied abroad in Japan for a year in the Kansai (southern-central) region where cities are bustling, and food is praised. Here is a list of promotional facets regarding their food industry that I found enticing:

Quality over quantity

Japanese consumers don’t hesitate if something is “overpriced” as long as the presentation and the quality of the product is high. Gift giving is a common cultural manner, and food is a popular choice. Normally, people would go out of their way to go to a luxurious bakery or the department store just to thank someone for inviting them to meet-up at their house. Additionally, consumers have high standards for restaurants and cafés. It’s always expected that errors never occur, and the food is exquisite.

Well-known figures are key

Singers, actors and actresses, musicians, CM’s, and other celebrities commonly appear on commercials and advertisements. People tend to connect with them on personal levels, so companies are realizing that if well-known figures promote their food products as recommendations, they’ll convince people to purchase from them.

Rewards, rewards, rewards

Reward cards are popular in stores, but also in city districts. When I stayed in Osaka, a lot of people, including myself, owned an “odekake” (meaning “going out”) card where you could earn and use points in the Hankyu and Hanshin part of the area. Consumers would potentially explore the stores that welcome the use of the card, which would help companies grow connections and relationships with them down the road.

Spreading the news

There is always something new coming out when it comes to food and drink products. The Japanese market is known for gaining excitement when new menu items would be released. It was a way to catch people’s attention and hopefully attract them to continue ordering. If there was an experience worth sharing, people would either post on social media (mostly Instagram) or tell others via word-of-mouth.

Say you’re sorry

Japanese are professionals at apologies. It’s part of their culture. Even if it’s not their own fault, they will take the blame. In relation to the food industry, if a customer were to have a bad experience with their food, the manager or someone in charge would make up for it 100%. Even if it was not their fault, the company would take the blame, bow until their head hits the ground, and fix the issue ASAP. There have been restaurants shut down in the past due to lazy apologies and instantly gaining negative reviews and losing customers.

Overall, businesses connecting with people from personal levels is something to keep in mind. Especially when it comes to the promotional aspect of food, it’s important for companies to show their best in services and quality of their products to satisfy their customers. Japan has presented a bold example of how to succeed and gain recognition through publicity, and hopefully, this has inspired or encouraged people in the food industry.



Lilia Hauenstein is currently a senior majoring in Advertising and Public Relations with a minor in International Business at Grand Valley State University. She recently studied abroad in Japan for a year, and since she wants to live and work there, she has been self-studying the language and continuing learning the culture. Determined to make her aspirations happen, you will see her contributing her time to the Peter C. Cook Leadership Academy, PRSSA, the Padnos International Center, her university’s development office, and constantly connecting with people in and outside of Grand Valley. Her hope is to make a positive impact on the business world in Japan.