Thoughts on the First Anniversary of Braze in Japan
A year has passed since Braze first launched in Japan. It feels like only a blink of the eye since we established Braze Japan back in November 2020 and began our expansion into the Japanese market. Every day since, we've been hard at work building the foundations of a successful business—from creating our office's organizational structure and translating content into Japanese to hiring people and nurturing relationships with key external partners.
But with a year behind us, it's clear that the response in Japan has far exceeded our expectations, especially when you consider that we entered the market during the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Entering the Japanese Market at an Opportune Time
Looking back, I believe that last fall was an opportune time for us to enter the Japanese market and begin conveying our message around the importance of thoughtful, relevant customer engagement. That's due in part to two key trends that have emerged in the Japanese marketing landscape in recent years.
First, there has been a growing awareness of the importance of truly understanding customers among Japanese companies. Brands here have long sought to gain a better picture of their customers' needs and wants with little success, making it difficult to engage in real communication with the individuals who make their businesses possible. The rise of COVID-19 changed things, triggering an acceleration in the shift toward digital, customer-centric experiences. With in-person customer engagement limited by the pandemic, brands found themselves faced with the need to strengthen and refine their digital touchpoints in order to provide compelling experiences to their customers through digital means.
Second, brands in Japan increasingly want to move away from stale practices. Consumers and marketers alike are fed up with irrelevant ads following them around the internet and with mass email sends that reach consumers without telling them anything relevant or valuable. This shift in attitude, along with increased awareness around data privacy concerns, has made customers more wary and challenged brands to rethink how they're communicating and building relationships with their users.
Braze is built to help brands understand customer behavior and to deliver the right message to the right customer at the right time through real-time analytics and personalization. And with brands in Japan looking for a new technology capable of breaking down past constraints on their customer engagement programs, the launch of Braze in Japan last year was embraced by marketers because it helped to fill an emerging need.
One brand exemplifying this shift is NewsPicks. The company had previously adopted other customer engagement tools, but had found that they were limited when it came to their ability to successfully send compelling, relevant emails to users. The company's focus on the user experience and delivering the right content to their readers meant that they quickly grasped how the Braze platform could help them capture user behavior data and use those insights to power personalized messages. In addition to NewsPicks, we've seen 20+ companies in Japan adopt Braze in the past year, highlighting our growing presence in the country.
A Year of Challenges and Opportunities
Over the past year, we've found that the Japanese market has its own special challenges and opportunities, especially for international brands like Braze. For one thing, Japan's mobile communication environment is unique—email is still the dominant form of communication between companies and their customers, and the use of mobile apps, social networking, chat, and messaging tools in the enterprise here is still quite low. This means that it's difficult for brands to follow the same approach as in the US market and find success; accordingly, it was necessary for us to adapt to the unique conditions of the Japanese market to find success and serve our customers effectively.
Our company recognized these challenges when we launched in Japan and the support we've received from Braze and its global divisions has made it easier for us to meet them effectively. In addition, we've been able to draw on many insights and thoughtful guidance from our customers in the country, allowing us to grow and thrive in this new market.
Braze is committed to working closely with marketers in Japan to help them engage, retain, monetize, and build lasting relationships with their customers. I believe that the new attention being paid to customer engagement and the importance of understanding and serving each individual customer will serve to stimulate awareness and change mindsets among marketers here. Indeed, I can already see it beginning to happen.
Max Masayuki Kikuchi
Masayuki Kikuchi is the President and CEO of Braze KK. Max is fascinated by the charm and depth of marketing, and his next business interest is in the space industry. He is always thinking about how to develop a business using the endless possibilities of space.