How will the Rugby World Cup Affect Digital Marketing in Japan?

The ninth Rugby World Cup is kicking off this month with 12 venues across Japan chosen to host this exciting international event. This will mark the first time the Rugby World Cup has taken place in Asia, and promises a significant economic boost for Japan, particularly in terms of tourism and local infrastructure.


However, there is another type of boost that could possibly be seen across the country as a direct result of the event. With citing this as the ‘most digitally engaged’ rugby tournament the world will have ever seen, the potential digital marketing benefits of the year’s biggest sporting competition cannot be overlooked.


Becoming the Norm


One of the most notable impacts that the Rugby World Cup could have on digital marketing in Japan is that the event forces online promotion to the forefront of branding and advertising. Despite Japan’s global reputation as the technological hub of the world, digital marketing is yet to be embraced wholly by local organisations. The McKinsey insights agency notes that Japan ‘has lagged behind developed markets such as the United Kingdom and the United States in the willingness of its consumers to shop online’, which has meant that digital promotion has largely been unnecessary.


While online shopping certainly is on the rise in Japan, digital marketing still isn’t where we would typically expect it to be. However, the upcoming Rugby World Cup is changing that through significant online promotion for the event, both by the tournament’s organisers, and through the country’s National Tourism Organization., the official website, has fast become the ‘go to’ resource for learning more about the event, while has been created specifically to coincide with the World Cup. Digital marketing is becoming the norm in Japan.


Improved Access


Another area where we can reasonably expect the Rugby World Cup to affect digital marketing in Japan is that the event will contribute greatly towards improved access to the market for foreign businesses striving to expand their reach into Asia. While the Japanese market is regularly viewed as difficult to break into and somewhat isolated due to language and cultural barriers, the diverse mix of Japanese and non-Japanese fans present in the country throughout the tournament could help brands to reach out.


It’s estimated that 14% of rugby fans in the UK will travel to Japan for the event, according to research by GlobalWebIndex, and overall more than 400,000 international visitors are expected to attend one of the World Cup games. This offers foreign marketers a unique opportunity to gain recognition and improve familiarity with Japanese target audiences through their existing connections with local consumers.


More to Come


Of course, the 2019 Rugby World Cup is just the first major sporting event scheduled to be held in Japan over the coming years, with the 2020 Olympic Games coming to Tokyo next summer. Already boasting a reputation as the most technologically advanced Olympics ever, with electronic passes, facial recognition, and even driverless taxis, digital marketing is expected to play a huge role in the success of the games, and provides yet another opportunity for digital marketing in Japan to catch up to the west.


Tags; Rugby World Cup, digital marketing, marketing, Japan


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