June 20, 2023

Why "soy" is a powerful buzzword in the Japanese plant-based chocolate market

This post explores why "soy" is a more effective buzzword than "plant-based" in the Japanese...

The plant-based food trend has gained significant traction in the West, with dedicated chocolate brands flourishing in this category. However, when it comes to marketing chocolate in Japan, a different approach is needed. This post explores why "soy" is a more effective buzzword than "plant-based" in the Japanese chocolate market, shedding light on the country's unique food culture and consumer preferences.

The Rise of Plant-Based Foods in the West

The West has witnessed a surge in popularity for plant-based foods, and chocolate brands like LoveRaw and H!P Chocolate have successfully carved out a niche in this market. These brands explicitly market their products as plant-based, tapping into the growing demand for sustainable and animal-free alternatives. However, when entering the Japanese market, Western chocolate brands need to adapt their marketing strategies to align with local preferences and cultural contexts.

Embracing the Tradition of Soy

Japan has a long-standing tradition of consuming soy-based foods, making "soy" a resonant term in the country. Soy is deeply ingrained in Japanese culinary culture as a significant alternative protein source for meat or cow’s milk. By leveraging the familiarity surrounding soy, chocolate brands can captivate the attention of Japanese consumers. Highlighting soy as a key ingredient can establish an immediate connection with the target audience.

The Importance of Localizing Marketing Strategies

To effectively engage with Japanese consumers, it is crucial for Western chocolate brands to localize their marketing strategies. This requires a thorough understanding of Japan's specific trends, preferences, and cultural nuances. By tailoring their messaging to resonate with Japanese consumers, brands can build stronger connections and increase their chances of success in the market.


In the realm of plant-based chocolate brands, Japan presents a unique landscape. While the West embraces the term "plant-based" to market these products successfully, the Japanese market responds more favorably to the buzzword "soy." With a rich history of soy-based foods serving as a popular alternative protein source, understanding this cultural context is essential for Western chocolate brands aiming to penetrate the Japanese market.

Learn about the plant-based milk market in Japan in our earlier article:

What makes the plant-based milk boom in Japan different?

See our recent articles

July 20, 2023

Does it take too long to get import F&B products on Japanese shelves?

When introducing a new product or brand to the Japanese market, it's important to recognize that ...

Read More
May 20, 2023

4 Marketing Tactics: What You Can Learn from Gourmet Popcorn in Japan

The gourmet popcorn trend gained momentum in Japan a few years ago, when...

Read More
February 20, 2023

The rapid growth of frozen foods in Japan

In 2022, frozen foods were named the "dish of the year" by...

Read More