How to Ensure a Bon Voyage for Japan’s Female Overseas Travelers

The Japanese are known for their love to travel, and there is one up-and-coming market segment to watch: young Japanese women outtravel their male cohorts by far. Here is the latest market research on female Japanese travelers.

Japanese women have got money to spend on travel

Fresh 2019 stats from the Japan Travel Bureau’s Tourism Research & Consulting group show that overall outbound travel hit an all-time high of 18.95 million in 2018. Spurring that jump are increases in employment and wages, along with the continuing rise of low-cost carriers, cheap package trips, online travel agents, and social media. And Japanese tourists spend: In 2017, for example, JTB says the average overseas expenditure per trip was 245,000 yen.

The above study also reveals that overseas travel rates for Japanese
women ages 20 to 24 are more than double those of their male counterparts. How
do Japanese women, particularly young ones, choose their destinations, and how can
they stay safe after they get there?

Japanese female travelers: Social media, solo travel & safety concerns

While most males travel on business, most Japanese women go overseas as tourists. And although solo travel used to be frowned on, more women are now heading out alone, savoring the freedom to do what they want when and where they want and not suffer through the inevitable clashes with companions about dining, shopping, lodging, and activities. They’re still open to forming spontaneous groups through matching sites such as Trippiece, however.

Instagram is the new search engine for travel destinations

Younger Japanese women are also much more focused on social media when choosing their destinations and activities. Instagram is a prime hunting ground for destinations, shopping, events, experiences and dining. Forty-six percent of Japan’s regular travelers overall say they use Instagram when planning vacations. That makes top travel influencers on Instagram such as The Blond Abroad and Shiho Maako incredibly persuasive to this audience.

Some keys to Instagram’s pull are that photos tell most of
the tale—making language largely irrelevant—and its function as a de facto
search engine that serves up the most recent results. The latter is
particularly essential for what they wear during seasonal travel.

How to market to Japanese women on Instagram

Marketing products on Instagram to younger Japanese women
who are social natives—meaning they’ve been on social media since their early
teens—is a delicate affair. Rather than telling them to display your goods
online, you need to persuade them that what you make will enhance their
personal brand. Tell the product’s story and the culture behind it, and they
might go for it.

Resorts and other venues—and even cities and regions—should approach key female influencers on social media to gain a higher profile, or at least establish or enhance their social media presence on Instagram and elsewhere. Setting up location-specific matching sites for solo travelers would be another savvy move.

The fear factor and beyond

Japan’s equivalent to the Lonely Planet guidebook series, Chikyu
no arukikata
, which can be loosely translated to “walk like a local,” has
been emphasizing the chills of traveling abroad as much as the thrills for 35
years. Chikyu focuses on crimes,
no-go zones and the possibility of being targeted because they’re Japanese.

Theft prevention is a priority

Despite those grim expectations, most Japanese women tend to
buy products to prevent theft rather than guard against violence. That includes
Pacsafe anti-theft bags, TSA card key locks, and
Preguard—an underskirt with a built-in security pouch for storing valuables.
They also
use apps such as Chirpey, RedZone, MayDay, Tripwhistle and Noonlight to swap details
about their experiences and safety, flag incidents and dangerous areas, and
contact local police.

Currently, assault prevention is still an underdeveloped
market in Japan. There are plenty of devices and apps devised to protect the
unwary that may be of interest to Japanese women travelers if marketed properly,

  • A free Android and iOS app called Watch Over Me. Shaking your phone and the app turns on your phone’s alarm, video camera and sends an alert to your pre-set emergency contacts.
  • SipChip, a coin-sized drug tester that detects date rape drugs such as Xanax, Rohypnol or GHB with 99.3 percent accuracy
  • Siren, an alarm cloaked as a ring that with an ear-splitting scream of over 100 decibels to startle and distract attackers up to 50 feet away
  • Yellow Jacket—an iPhone case slash stun gun generating a minimum of six micro coulombs, the maximum pain-inducing power allowed for a taser

The key to making apps and products like these appealing to Japanese female tourists is to make them low-key and fashionable and promote them that way as well.

We’ve got you covered, and speak your language

The unexpected is both the boon and bane of being a tourist.
Communication is a major impediment to keeping trips abroad fun. According to
2018 stats from JTB, 37 percent of Japanese overall hesitated about journeying
overseas because of language concerns. That’s where automatic translation devices
such as Pocketalk shine. Pocketalk supports sixty-three languages, translates
in both directions, and displays a text version of what’s said to clear up any
ambiguity. The unit depends on a group of different online services—Google
Translate, Baidu, and others—and a constant data connection to do its job. A
more practical version of such a device would surely have a market in not so
English-savvy Japan.

Any company with ties to tourism—tour operators, hotels,
travel agencies and so on—should investigate the possibility of offering a
personal safety and security package that includes devices and apps mentioned
above, either for sale or rental. And here’s a twist: Besides appealing to the
women themselves, you might want to market to their parents and
grandparents—the generations who avidly read Chikyu no arukikata before heading out on their own voyages.

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