Establish a subsidiary company
This is the most effective option if your main priority is sales volume. However, it requires significant upfront capital investment, and you will still need to open offices and hire Japanese nationals to be successful in the Japanese market. This is clearly the high-risk, high-reward option.
Rely solely on electronic commerce “EC”
This is generally the most low-cost, low-risk and hassle-free method of entry. However, this has not proven to be a successful approach in Japan. In addition to the language barrier, there is a relatively low rate of EC in Japan relative to total consumer purchases.
According to the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, the 2014 EC rate in Japan was only 4.37%, meaning the ability to sell products in stores is very important.
Partner with a Japanese agency
This option requires no upfront investment, and utilizes local talent and expertise to ensure the product is appropriately marketed to the Japanese consumer. This method is low-risk, high-reward.