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  • Writer's pictureSamurai Incubate Israel

KFC, Christmas and Japan — Marketing Done Right

Japan is the third largest market in the world in terms of GDP, which causes attracting businesses with its large middle class, so companies with international ambitions cannot ignore it. In order to enter this huge market successfully, it is important to understand some basic marketing concepts that may make a difference. The KFC (an American fast food restaurant chain that specializes in fried chicken) case is an interesting example for when marketing in Japan is done right.

Fried Chicken Tradition

About 3.6 million Japanese families eat KFC meals during the Christmas season. Millions of people are willing to wait in long lines to order fried chicken and continue the tradition. Over the past four decades, KFC has managed to turn fried chicken into traditional Christmas food in Japan. But why?

Shortly after the opening of the first KFC restaurant in Japan in 1970, Okura, the manager, raised the idea of ​​selling the ‘’Christmas Barrel’’. It was inspired by the US Thanksgiving dinner with turkey, but with fried chicken instead. The national promotion in Japan included the slogan ‘Kurisumasu ni wa Kentakkii’: Kentucky for Christmas.

The KFC campaign filled a void in the Japanese modern culture, as there was no Christmas tradition in Japan until then. KFC created the new Christmas fried chicken tradition.

The KFC case is a good example for the power and willingness of the Japanese market to adopt western companies and turn them to key players in the Japanese landscape. As we know, the Japanese culture is unique and fascinating in many terms, and the cultural gap affects the marketing methods we might want to use.

When you plan to enter the Japanese market, here are some things you must keep in mind:

  • Japan has the second largest median age in the world. Among its young population, there is a decline in marriage rates and an increase in the age of family formation. Also, they spend more amount of their free time online. Attention should be paid to this when creating marketing materials in Japan. Consider whether to use online ads with an emphasis on certain values, think about the overall design, and even the medium where you reach your target audience. There is a sharp divide between media consumption among the elderly and young people in Japan. Not only do they consume media through different mediums, they also receive news from completely different sources.

  • Japan is the tenth largest country in the world by population, but it boasts three of the world’s five largest daily newspapers in terms of circulation. A large part of this is related to the aging population. The elderly in Japan are very enthusiastic and loyal readers for their chosen newspaper.

  • The younger Japanese, on the other hand, are as addicted to their smartphones as we are. 106.8 million Japanese are expected to be using cell phones — and more than three quarters of it are smartphones. Optimize your company’s website or open an app that’s customized to the Japanese audience. To reach as many potential customers as possible, find out where the Japanese go online: If your company is targeted to the business audience, consider using Facebook which is a business platform in Japan or LINE if it’s the younger audience that you’re interested in.

  • A common mistake of foreign companies when creating a Japanese version for their website is a plain and direct translation of their English content into Japanese. In your website you should think carefully of the cultural differences and expectations of the Japanese customer. In Japan, people prefer brighter colors like red, yellow and green, with smaller letters and more details. You want a website that will be perceived as reliable and attractive among Japanese customers, so it is important to do extensive research and even consult with professionals in the field in Japan.

  • Japan is undergoing a process of change. While traditional Japanese behavior may have been the norm for decades, recent economic and political upheaval has changed buying habits, among other things. Japanese consumers are currently buying mostly products from online retailers, buying in bulk, and are spending more time at home. These and other trends will continue to change the way the Japanese communicate with brands and products. You should do in-depth testing and learn about the modern Japanese culture in depth before starting to work on your company’s marketing project.


Our team at Samurai Incubate Israel is dedicated to taking ventures from the very basic stages to greater heights, and to later connect them to the Japanese market. With our large community in Israel and our strong connection to the corporate world and the ecosystem in both countries, our team is constantly looking to create and strengthen the bridge between Japan and Israel by combining Japan’s industry with Israel’s cutting-edge technology and innovative spirit.

For further information, check our website —


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