Japan Camping and Hiking Equipment
According to Yano Research Institute, a market research company, the size of Japan’s outdoor consumer goods market in 2020 was about $4.45 billion (wholesale). While this was a 5.3% decrease versus 2019 figures, growth in the sector has returned since March 2020.
The light outdoor segment has been growing for the past three years, occupying almost 60% of the entire outdoor consumer goods market. Light outdoor includes activities such as auto-camping and fishing. Auto-camping has become especially popular among families with young children during the pandemic. Auto-camping sites in Japan provide opportunities to enjoy cooking, bonfires, and sleeping in tents. A regional camping magazine recently highlighted the 10 best-selling products from leading camping equipment manufacturers, listing tents, tarps, and shades as the top three. Popular items include: tents for families (i.e., for 4-6 persons) and smaller tents for beginners; cookware, including stoves, pans, stackable mug cups and dishes, as well as folding chairs and tables; and products related to making bonfires, such as bonfire stands. Successful auto-camping products are those that cater to families and are easy-to-use. Especially since the typical Japanese family does not have a lot of storage space at home, the best products in the market should also be compact, light in weight, and suitable as well for home use.
The “serious hiking” equipment market accounts for approximately 10% of the overall outdoor market. While smaller than the light outdoor market, serious hikers, who aim to summit peaks, tend to appreciate high quality fabrics and functionality and are willing to pay extra to protect their lives in severe weather conditions. (In Japan, mountains are not very high, but because they are located close to the ocean, weather conditions are severe compared to other mountains located inland.)
Although lodges are available in the popular Japanese hiking areas, more hikers choose to pitch a tent near lodges than pre-Covid. Therefore, tents, sleeping bags, mattresses, cook ware and large-sized backpacks sell well. Sleeve style dome tents sell better than other tents, such as dome tents with clips. Down-filled sleeping bags for three seasons sell better than ones filled with synthetic fiber. Closed-cell mattresses have more than 50% of the mattress market share. Since hikers need to carry all the equipment on their back, products should be lightweight and compact.
Vaccination rates for Covid are increasing in Japan; however, it may take another season or two for Japanese buyers to attend tradeshows held outside Japan. During 2021, the U.S. Commercial Service Japan will organize promotional opportunities for U.S. camping and hiking equipment companies to demonstrate the latest outdoor equipment to Japanese importers and retailers. Also, there are regulations and standards for outdoor equipment that are specific to Japan. Please contact the U.S. Commercial Service Japan for details at office Hirono.Taki@trade.gov.