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2024 Japanese Marketing Calendar: January – March

In Japan, the beginning of the year is a special time. New Year’s Day is one of the most celebrated holidays, and post-Christmas sales keep the stores busy. Want to start the new year with a bang? Brands should consider many unique factors when putting together 2024 marketing calendar.

In this article, we go through the first months of the year in Japan in 2024. We outline significant events you should include in your marketing plan, and our 2024 trend predictions.

Check out our Japanese marketing calendars for the rest of the year!

January 2024 marketing calendar: New Year’s Day and lucky bags

Osechi ryori - traditional new year food in Japan.

January 1st is one of the biggest holidays in Japan. Oshōgatsu – the Japanese New Year – has many unique customs.

Many households participate in traditions like visiting a local temple at midnight. People also eat elaborate osechi ryōri, the New Year’s Day meal. It consists of a selection of small dishes that all symbolise good fortune.

Most preparations are done in advance so people can enter the new year peacefully. A special shopping tradition begins once the celebrations are over and life returns to normal. 

Fukubukuro is special bags full of goodies from store catalogues that people can purchase for a set price. The trick? People do not know what is inside the lucky bags!

They are sold with a substantial discount during the first week of January. Many eager buyers head to the stores hoping to snatch a good deal. Nowadays, most stores across the country sell lucky bags. From retail, department stores, and ecommerce websites, to restaurants and cafes.

This is a great way for businesses to liquidate their remaining stock and prepare space for new collections. 

Seijinshiki Coming of Age Day – is a national holiday observed on the second Monday in January. It is a public holiday when 20-year-olds nationwide celebrate their entry into adulthood. Festivities include ceremonies held at local prefectural offices and after-parties with family and friends. It is tradition for young men and women to dress in suits and traditional kimono during that day.

January is also known for winter sports. Skiing, snowboarding, and other outdoor activities are particularly popular during this time. Many people plan trips to top winter destinations like Niseko in Hokkaido. The season peaks from mid-January to late February.

February 2024 marketing calendar: Valentine’s Day

Image of a white box on pink background.

Just like in many countries, Japanese people celebrate Valentine’s Day. The country goes crazy about chocolate during this time. Chocolate makers take advantage of the opportunity, making around half of their yearly profits during this period. 

While Japanese people celebrate Valentine’s Day, it has a little twist. Contrary to what we may be accustomed to, the girls approach boys with gifts. Boys then return the favour one month later on White Day, which we will discuss later.

There are a lot of types of chocolate popular during this time: honmei choco (for the person you are in love with), giri choco (for family members or coworkers), tomo choco (for friends), and jibun choco (a little sweet gift you give yourself). 

February is also the time for strawberries! It may sound surprising, but there are a lot of strawberry fairs around the country, with many hotels organising strawberry buffets. Fresh fruit, strawberry-flavoured desserts, and candy is all the hype. 

March 2024 marketing calendar: Hina Matsuri and ‘new life’ preparations

Hina dolls - traditional Hina Matsuri decorations.

Hinamatsuri, or Doll’s Day, is a Japanese religious holiday observed on 3rd March. It is a celebration dedicated to girls when parents pray for their daughters’ happiness and good health.

People usually celebrate by holding parties and preparing traditional dishes. Those include clam soup, sweets made from rice and sugar, or rice cakes. Families also decorate their houses with hina dolls, believed to protect girls from evil and misery. 

As mentioned, Japanese people celebrate White Day on 14th March, exactly one month after Valentine’s Day. It is when people return gifts to those who approached them during Valentine’s.

It was first observed in Japan in 1978, and since then has spread to other Asian countries. Popular gifts include food items like chocolate, marshmallows, cookies, and ‘white’ accessories such as bags, skincare products, jewellery, and lingerie. 

In Japan, spring symbolises the beginning of shinseikatsu – the ‘new life’ cycle. The new financial year begins in April, and many people move across the country to start new jobs or university education.

Hence, March is the time of busy preparations for significant life changes. People search for moving services, furniture and appliances for new apartments, and clothes to refresh their wardrobes. Farewell and thank-you gifts for close friends or family are also popular during this time.

Many businesses take advantage of this period, running ‘new life’ campaigns. ‘Early bird’ or ‘bulk-buy’ deals are typical during this time. 

21st March marks the first day of spring, and sakura cherry blossoms begin to cover the country in pink. It is one of the most popular times for tourists to visit Japan. The first blooming trees appear at the end of March, when people begin to do hanami, picnics, BBQs, and parties under sakura trees. Businesses do not ignore this time and launch limited edition sakura-themed collections, menus, and events.

Unfortunately for some, blossoming flowers also mean the beginning of hay fever season. People start looking for symptoms and remedies and buy home appliances that help clean the air of pollen.

Let’s work together!

There are several unique holidays and events in Japan that are not observed anywhere else in the world. To create a well-rounded marketing strategy, including these in the calendar is crucial. This will help your business to approach the correct audience at the perfect time.

At DMFA, we can help you analyse the market and design a custom marketing plan according to your needs. Please get in touch to schedule a free consultation.

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