Are you stuck in a marketing rut, tired of the same old strategies that don’t quite cut it? Remember how Goku from Dragon Ball Z would level up just when he seemed to hit a wall?
Japanese anime culture and anime marketing could be your marketing ‘Super Saiyan’ mode, propelling your brand to new heights you never thought possible.
Sure, Anime might conjure up images of Naruto running or quirky characters with wildly colorful hair but don’t underestimate its impact.
This isn’t just a subculture; it’s a global phenomenon with a massive following. It’s pop culture. Brands across various industries are catching on and using Anime marketing to turbo-charge their marketing strategies.
Imagine captivating your audience with the same magnetic pull that has people binge-watching popular anime content for hours.
If you harness Japanese anime culture rightly, you could be the next brand to make waves in the market, breaking through those stubborn barriers.
Keep reading to unearth the mystic scrolls (okay, not scrolls, but you get the anime metaphor!) of integrating Anime into your brand’s marketing campaign.
Key Takeaways (TLDR)
- Anime is a multi-billion dollar industry with a growing influence in global markets.
- Mainstream platforms like Netflix and giants like Disney are actively integrating anime.
- Anime’s vibrant storytelling and iconic characters offer unique partnership opportunities.
- The overlap between anime enthusiasts and gamers presents massive potential for brands.
- Luxury fashion brands are embracing anime collaborations.
Why Japanese Anime Culture Matters in Marketing
Anime isn’t just a passing trend; it’s a lifestyle for millions. As of 2022, the anime market was valued at approximately $28.61 billion globally.
This is not just a niche; it’s a roaring beast of engagement. With the anime boom, anime partnerships, anime co-marketing, anime marketing campaigns, and even Anime esports collaborations are skyrocketing.
In 2021, the Demon Slayer film Mugen Train grossed US $47.7 million to become the second-highest-grossing anime film of all time in the market. 21 years after Pokémon: The First Movie first gained that title for anime films.
Anime marketing has already begun to make its way into mainstream media. Netflix began facing stagnation and a decline in subscriptions in 2021. Still, the increase in viewers for its anime offering has been a boon, providing the first subscription growth they’ve seen since the decline.
Additionally, the success of their recent 2023 live-action original adaptation of the beloved One Piece series is arguably one of the most successful TV series of 2023 globally.
Suppose that wasn’t enough of a sign. In that case, Disney has indicated an interest in Anime as they partner with anime studio Kodansha, and rumors abound of Disney eyeing other anime studios to purchase.
On top of that, the Anime Expo, a tradeshow held annually in Los Angeles, has become the single largest tradeshow event in the United States for the last few years, which saw a turnstile attendance of over 392,000 in 2023.
Lastly, nearly every major luxury fashion brand, from Gucci to Chanel, has had an anime collaboration in the past three years, signaling that it has quickly passed beyond mainstream into the higher echelons of pop culture itself.
Your brand could tap into a ready market that is highly invested emotionally. When anime fans love something, they commit, and that’s precisely what you want for your brand.
Moreover, Anime has moved beyond Japan and taken over the world, especially in places like America, where Anime is a cultural staple among the youth.
The How-To Guide for Anime-Influenced Marketing
Anime partnerships have proved to be a goldmine in branding and marketing. The allure of Anime’s vivid storytelling and iconic characters can bring unparalleled dynamism to your brand.
But how do you forge such partnerships, and what types of collaborations are most effective?
Identifying the Right Anime for Your Brand
The first step is finding an anime that resonates with your brand’s ethos, goals, and target audience. Do you share similar themes or moral stories? With the nearly infinite broad range of anime themes, there are endless options for you to choose from.
Pro Tip: There is no better resource than your own experience, so becoming a fan of Anime can provide you with a keen sense of the animation industry and connect you to the anime community, which will provide you with priceless insight.
Reaching Out for Collaboration
Once you identify the Anime, the next step is approaching the creators or the studios behind them.
How-To: Most of these studios don’t make finding the right contact easy, especially when anime titles can have a complex web of property ownership that spans from the original manga creator up to publisher, distributors, and even regional ownership.
Pro Tip: Attending anime tradeshow events and using LinkedIn can help you find the licensing managers you seek to begin discussions.
Types of Collaborations
There’s a buffet of ways to collaborate, from creating anime-themed merchandise to special episodes to integrating characters into your marketing collateral.
How-To: You must work closely with the studio’s creative team to ensure the collaboration feels organic and not forced. Most collaborations will have fees ranging from 8-15% royalty fees depending on whether it’s direct to consumers or through distribution, as well as a minimum guarantee ranging from $10,000 to $40,000 per product.
Additionally, if you are a global brand, you must gain approval from the licensing group of each country where you plan to sell. However, most anime property owners will help guide you through that process.
Some of the largest anime license property owners include Crunchyroll, Aniplex, Viz, and Toei.
Pro Tip: A simple Google search can help you identify if specific product categories that are already saturated since most license managers tightly control the number of collaborations allowed in a specific category.
Consider the Audience
Remember, anime fans can spot inauthenticity from a mile away. Authenticity should be your cornerstone; this cannot be stressed enough.
Besides, it’s vital to deeply understand your audience and the anime audience to ensure the collaboration feels natural and genuinely exciting.
The magic of anime partnerships lies in the marriage of two worlds, each with its passionate fan base. If done correctly, these collaborations can catapult your brand into uncharted territories of popularity and revenue.
Anime co-marketing is the partnership between your brand and an existing anime entity to achieve common marketing goals.
This could be through joint marketing campaigns, special episodes, or themed products that appeal to a broad audience.
Netflix and Anime
One of the most visible examples of anime co-marketing is Netflix’s strategic investment in anime titles. They have not only acquired a large number of popular animes but also funded original productions.
This helps Netflix attract a dedicated fanbase while giving broader exposure to these animes. According to a Netflix 2020 Year In Review report, Anime viewing on the platform surged by 100% in the United States in 2020.
You can take a leaf out of Netflix’s book by partnering with existing anime titles and investing in creating new ones that align with your brand’s core values.
Netflix’s partnership with Riot Games to produce the Netflix original anime series “Arcane” based on the League of Legends universe has resulted in a 30 percent boost in revenue due to the game’s anime debut.
And it didn’t stop there. They would follow up with another video game anime collaboration with CD Projekt Red’s groundbreaking hit video game CyberPunk 2077, which, just like Arcane, their original anime CyberPunk: Edgerunners was an overwhelming success for both the game developer and the studios.
This creates a deep emotional bond with the audience and offers an incredibly sticky form of customer engagement.
Disney and Anime
While Disney is a Western animation giant, its recently purchased subsidiary, Studio Ghibli, has a massive following in the anime world. Films like “Spirited Away” and “My Neighbor Totoro” have global appeal. Disney often bundles these titles with their regular programming to attract anime fans.
Similarly, you could package your brand’s products or services with popular anime merchandise as a bundled offering. This increases the perceived value of your brand while broadening your customer base.
By making a concerted effort in anime co-marketing, you are not just participating in a trend but investing in a culture. This pop culture comes with a dedicated, widespread community that can become loyal customers, acting as brand ambassadors in their own right.
So, don’t just stand on the sidelines. Dive deep into the world of anime co-marketing and discover the multifaceted benefits it can bring to your brand.
Anime Clothing Collabs:
Anime clothing collaborations are a trend and a verifiable business strategy. These collaborations take the intense emotional engagement of anime fans and translate it into a tangible product, often resulting in sales skyrocketing. As of 2022, the global market for anime-inspired clothing was estimated to be worth $7.3 billion.
Adidas x Dragon Ball Z
In 2018, Adidas launched a line of Dragon Ball Z-inspired shoes. This partnership was highly successful, tapping into sneaker culture and anime fans.
The collaboration between Adidas and Dragon Ball Z resulted in a unique line of sneakers inspired by the anime characters. According to a report by Research and Market, the global footwear market size is expected to reach $530.3 billion by 2027, with special edition releases playing a considerable role in that.
This example highlights the need to deeply understand the Anime and your product to create a resonating collaboration.
UNIQLO x One Piece
UNIQLO has had multiple collaborations with animes, but their One Piece collection was particularly noteworthy. The line offered a range of t-shirts and hoodies, selling at affordable prices.
UNIQLO successfully demonstrated how to target a wide demographic by offering a range of affordable options.
Gucci and JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure
Gucci paired up with this popular Anime in a surprising yet fantastic collaboration to create a unique, limited-time campaign. This venture targeted high-fashion lovers in the anime community with fashion designs inspired by the Star Ocean arc of JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure anime series..
Considerations for Your Own Collab
- Audience Alignment: Make sure the Anime’s fanbase aligns with your target market. A mismatch could lead to a less-than-stellar performance.
- Quality and Design: Anime fans are discerning consumers. The design should be appealing and high-quality to match the Anime’s artistic integrity.
- Exclusivity: Limited edition ranges create a sense of urgency and can drive sales quickly. But be wary; you don’t want to create a demand you can’t meet.
After successfully launching an anime clothing collaboration, consider other merchandise like accessories or an exclusive online platform where fans can view Anime and simultaneously shop for products. There’s a whole universe to explore here, from anime-inspired fragrances to anime-themed home decor.
By deeply understanding the anime culture and your product, you can create a win-win collaboration that brings immense value to both parties. It’s like Natsu and Gray performing the Unison Raid; separately, they’re strong but invincible together. And so can your brand be.
Anime and Gaming Culture: The Perfect Pair
Anime marketing and gaming culture have been like two peas in a digital pod. The intertwining of these two phenomena isn’t a mere coincidence; it’s a partnership that has been mutually beneficial, feeding into one another’s growth and appeal.
According to a 2023 study by Newzoo, there are approximately 3.4 billion gamers, and the market will reach $187.7 billion in revenue. And guess what? A substantial portion of these gamers are also anime enthusiasts. Similarly, according to Crunchyroll, 90% of anime fans in the United States also identify as gamers.
How Brands Are Merging Anime and Gaming
Merchandise and In-game Items
Video games often integrate anime characters or storylines into their narratives. Games like Fortnite, Honkai Star Rail, PUBG, and Overwatch, to name a tiny handful, have all collaborated with anime studios to bring anime characters into their games as limited-time exclusive in-game skins for purchase.
They are an incredible source of revenue for game publishers and anime studios, especially when they are micro-transactions that likely bring in tens of millions of dollars in revenue.
Anime e-Sports Collaborations
Yes, eSports and Anime marketing are becoming increasingly interconnected. As of 2023, nearly every major esports organization, from Team Liquid to TSM, has partnered with anime brands for everything from anime-themed apparel to gaming accessories.
Additionally, anime brands are sponsoring tournaments, and even anime-themed games are finding a place in competitive gaming.
Consider co-sponsoring an eSports event where the tournament is centered around an anime-themed game.
Anime-Inspired Idea Sourcing
Games like “Genshin Impact” and “League of Legends” have created lucrative anime-related or anime-style in-game purchases for the developers.
Riot Games took inspiration from Studio Ghibli’s iconic films “Spirited Away”, My Neighbor Totoro” and “Princess Mononoke” for one of their skins on the Bard character, drawing huge applause from fans of both the game and the Anime.
Brands looking to amplify their marketing strategies should pay close attention to the symbiotic relationship between anime marketing and gaming culture.
This is a vibrant and dedicated cross-section of consumers who are eager to engage, offering vast untapped potential. As the lines between Anime and video games continue to blur, the opportunities for marketing innovation are virtually endless.
By understanding and integrating these cultural forces, brands can reach out to an audience that is fervent, engaged, and incredibly loyal.
So, next time you plan a marketing campaign, don’t just play the game; consider leveling up with a dash of anime magic.
Anime and Luxury Brands: An Unlikely but Perfect Match
You may be thinking, “Anime and high fashion? You’ve got to be kidding!” But hold onto your Naruto headbands because this is one of the most fascinating developments in brand marketing.
Luxury brands, generally seen as the epitome of sophistication and elegance, have surprisingly found a home in the youthful and dynamic world of Anime marketing.
It began with the collaboration between Coach and Michael B. Jordan (an avid gamer and Anime fan) when they introduced the Michael B. Jordan Naruto Collaboration fashion series, which sold out immediately.
Its popularity and success signaled other luxury brands to join the bandwagon, with nearly every major luxury fashion brand having some form of Anime marketing collaboration by 2023.
This also is explained by the undeniable fact that many of today’s celebrities, from Travis Scott to even Elon Musk, come from a generation where video games and Anime were an integral part of their youth culture that they have carried a love for into their adulthood and are now integrating it into their own personal brands.
In 2020, Louis Vuitton collaborated with “League of Legends,” tapping into the vibrant esports scene, which closely intersects with anime culture. This gave the luxury brand an immediate inroad to the younger audience already engaged in anime and gaming culture.
High-end Japanese fashion brand Comme des Garçons also partnered with the 1980s anime “Akira” for a clothing line that has inspired the likes of Kanye West in his fashion endeavors.
By understanding these aspects, luxury brands can tap into Anime’s expansive world and reinvent their image for a younger, more dynamic audience.
- Authenticity: If diving into anime culture, you must “speak the language.” A half-baked attempt could turn off potential customers.
- Audience Match: Ensure your target demographic overlaps with the Anime you partner with.
- Legal Aspects: Licensing can be tricky; go through the proper channels to avoid infringement issues.
Going Beyond the Basics
Besides the straightforward collaborations, think about anime-themed virtual events, integrating popular anime characters into your actual product design, or creating a story arc around your product that mirrors popular anime themes.
Japanese anime culture isn’t just a “nice-to-have” in today’s marketing world; it’s turning into a “must-have”. With global anime statistics highlighting a dedicated and growing audience, you can’t afford to overlook this treasure trove.
Frequently Asked Questions
How can you use Anime in marketing?
You can use Anime in marketing by forming strategic partnerships with popular anime series or Japanese animation studios, co-creating limited-edition merchandise, and even co-sponsoring anime-themed eSports tournaments. Furthermore, integrating anime characters and storylines into your advertising campaigns, social media promotions, or in-game items can offer your brand a unique edge and connect deeply with the anime-loving demographic.
What is anime marketing?
Anime marketing refers to integrating Japanese anime culture, characters, storylines, and themes into a brand’s promotional strategies. It can involve collaborations with existing anime series for merchandise, advertising, or specific events. The aim is to tap into the highly engaged and emotionally invested anime fan base to enhance brand loyalty and increase consumer engagement.
How big of a market is Anime?
The anime market is substantial and growing rapidly; as of 2019, it was valued at approximately $21 billion globally. The anime industry encompasses not just television shows and movies but also merchandise, video games, and lifestyle products. Its influence has crossed cultural and geographical boundaries, making it a significant phenomenon, especially among youth in countries beyond Japan, including America.
Is there a market for Anime?
There is a thriving market for Anime that extends beyond Japan to countries around the world. Anime has a deeply invested global fanbase, and its appeal cuts across various age groups and demographics. It has spawned various associated products and industries, from merchandise and clothing collaborations to videogames and eSports, offering brands numerous avenues for engagement and partnership.
Branding & Marketing Evangelist Namanh Hoang is a business, startup, marketing, and branding blogger with over 30 years of experience working with today’s top brands across all industries, from luxury fashion to consumer electronics. He has published research papers in the field of branding in Sociology Scientific Journals. His lifelong passion for gaming and anime led him to serve as an industry advisor for Intel, AMD, NVIDIA, and Microsoft as a youth culture marketing and branding expert.