Case Study

Understanding a New Market to Grow Market Share


How can a brand quickly respond to grow its share when favorable changes in a new market could mean increased demand for the products it sells?

This was the question asked by a sports nutrition company that approached C+R for help understanding Japan’s growing fitness market. This growth had been driven by increased engagement in sports and fitness, increased gym attendance, and changing attitudes toward body image, including a desire for more muscular physiques. Additionally, the Olympic and Paralympic games were held in Tokyo in 2021, adding enthusiasm for fitness and driving the category’s growth.

To take advantage of these favorable conditions in the market, our client asked C+R to conduct a Brand Health Tracker in Japan. To supplement these learnings and provide a deep foundational understanding of Japanese consumers, C+R also conducted additional qualitative research.


Deeper Learning among Japanese consumers

Our client, a sports nutrition company, wanted to capitalize on Japan’s growing market for fitness and nutritional supplements. As part of a larger Brand Health Tracker study, they asked C+R to provide a deeper, foundational understanding of the Japanese consumer via qualitative research.

Specifically, the client wanted to:

  • Gather insights on Japanese consumers’ lifestyles, motivations, and attitudes
  • Identify key opinion leaders, including the role of influencers and athletes
  • Understand purchase drivers and gaps – both domestically and cross-border
  • Build a journey map

Additionally, the client had developed several product concepts and communications they hoped to test with Japanese consumers.


combination of in-depth interviews and focus groups was employed to learn more about Japanese sports nutrition consumers.

First, one-on-one conversations helped to provide an intimate look at these consumers’ lifestyles, attitudes, and motivations for engaging in the sports nutrition category. We explored past product usage to uncover consumers’ decision drivers and journeys through the category, as well as current usage, to understand current experiences and unmet needs.

Second, focus groups were used to explore perceptions of the current category landscape, including potential product concepts, communications, and packaging. We also spoke with consumers about their category influencers and decision drivers regarding sports nutrition products.

C+R partnered with a local Japanese research firm to conduct the research. After briefing them on the objectives and design, we worked collaboratively to adjust the research materials for the local market. During fieldwork, we had a simultaneous translator so that the C+R researcher could observe the research in real-time, providing hands-on oversight. In the final report, the Japanese researchers provided additional context for the insights, bringing a nuanced understanding to learnings.

The result

Journey Map Brings Findings to Life

At the end of the research, our client had a greater understanding of Japanese consumers’ needs and wishes regarding the sports nutrition category. They learned where Japanese consumers are most likely to turn to learn more about these products, as well as who is considered the most important sports influencers and the most dominant brands in the space.

C+R created a visually compelling category journey map so our clients could see the behaviors, needs, pain points, and opportunities in the space at a glance. The client also received feedback on which of its proposed brand communications campaigns would be most compelling to Japanese consumers.

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