Offline Marketing

How can we better understand our customers? – in Japanese B2B marketing

It is very important in marketing to understand the issues your customers are facing and what they want to achieve through your products and services, as well as their demographics (personas) and behaviors leading up to their purchases.

Better understanding your customers will enable you to offer products and services that meet their needs and promote their continued use of your services. This article explains the key points needed to understand your customers and to match your services with what they want.

We provide marketing support to foreign companies entering the Japanese market. We can assist you in the preliminary stages of implementing marketing initiatives, as described in this article, so please contact us if you are a marketing manager or a company considering entering the Japanese market, especially the B2B market.

What is customer understanding?

Understanding your customers means understanding what they really want and what problems they want to solve. We define customer understanding as not only understanding their needs and issues, but also understanding the details of how they gather information, what processes they follow to make decisions, and which competitors they compare you to when they are considering a purchase.

Why do we need to understand our customers?

Understanding the customer’s issues, wants, and decision-making process up to purchase is the starting point for all marketing strategies. Therefore, efficient results cannot be expected from developing products and implementing marketing initiatives without understanding your customer.

In today’s fast-paced business environment, customers’ issues, needs, and wants are constantly changing, so it is extremely important to keep abreast of these changes and continue to understand your customers. It is not an exaggeration to say that it is better to put understanding your customers at the center of all your strategies to avoid product development and marketing with the image of customers of the past.

What exactly do we need to do to understand our customers?

Interviews with existing customers

The easiest thing you can do to deepen your understanding of your customers is to interview existing customers. Clarify your customer profile by starting with identifying the issues they had before purchasing your product, asking them in detail how they became aware of your product, and what the process was like before they made their purchasing decision (what made them decide to purchase your product).

Interviews with prospective customers

Especially in the context of the Japanese market, it may seem that interviewing prospective customers is a high hurdle for foreign companies. However, there are many services available in Japan today that can help you find interview participants, and by using these services, you can reach out to prospective customers.

Below is a list of services that can be utilized.

  • ProSharing

Interviews with experts

Especially in B2B business, consultants and employees of specialized trading companies who work in the industry have a wealth of industry knowledge and have a lot of information about the situation of your potential clients.

By interviewing them, you can gather a broad range of overarching information. In addition, it is possible to increase the resolution of your customers by combining this interview with the aforementioned existing/prospective customers interviews.

Competitor analysis (case studies, track record)

You can also gain a lot of information about your prospective customers by analyzing case studies published by your competitors in Japan. In the introduction of case studies, you will find quite specific descriptions of what issues the companies that adopted the products (i.e., your potential customer segment) were facing and what were the deciding factors in their adoption of the products.

In addition, by studying the company information of the companies that have adopted the product from your competitor in Japan, it is possible to determine the scale and the business type of the prospective customer.

Analysis of customers you failed to close orders with

The analysis of failed sales cases contains a lot of information, although it is often overlooked. You can gain new insights by thoroughly analyzing at what point the customer left and what they really wanted that you were not able to provide.

The higher the number of failed cases, the easier it is to find points for improvement. This method is recommended for companies that have acquired a large number of lead customers, but have not yet been able to close the order.

Analysis of frequently asked questions about the product

In many cases, what your customers really want is hidden in the small questions that arise during business meetings. It is not impossible to uncover a customer’s true needs by sharing frequently asked questions with your sales and customer service team members.


  • Understanding your customers means to deepen your understanding of your customers, not only their issues and wants, but also their information gathering channels and decision-making processes.
  • Customer understanding is the starting point for product development and marketing strategies, so it is important to always have a deep understanding of your customers
  • While taking into account our own resources, we should use the tools available to understand our customers from a variety of perspectives.

We can help you understand your customers in the Japanese market, which is difficult for foreign companies to do, by using our extensive network and Japan-specific tools and services.
If you are looking to deepen your understanding of your customers and offer products and services that they really want, or if you are wondering how to use your deepened understanding of your customers to enter the Japanese market, please contact us!