The State of Sustainability in Japan 2021

How consumers think and act, and how brands can stay one step ahead


A comprehensive research study

A series of in-depth interviews with Japanese brand leaders revealed a shared belief that sustainable business practices would inevitably become ubiquitous – yet many are struggling in this endeavour. In response, we set out to conduct Japan's most comprehensive research study into consumer engagement with sustainability, aiming to uncover findings related to three key questions:

1. What does sustainability mean to Japanese consumers and how much do they care?

2. How much do Japanese consumers know or care about brands level of sustainability?

3. How can brands stay competitive in their own approach to sustainability?

Get the report

Download the full 75-page report (12MB PDF):

5289 research participants

115 sustainability questions

10 brand leader interviews

6 contextual enquiries

3 detailed case studies

75 page report

Toyota Woven City


Sustainability is by no means new to Japan. Renowned for traditions like Mottainai (minimising waste), Osusowake (sharing of goods or profit), and Sanpo Yoshi (business that benefits buyer, seller and society) and with more longstanding businesses than any other country in the world, in some senses Japan has long been ahead of the game.

Yet now, as the world faces up to ever more urgent and complex challenges, a broader, global and integrated idea of sustainability is becoming commonplace, and Japan finds itself falling behind global standards. The UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which are lauded by experts, and gaining traction with brands and consumers alike, present a more complex and comprehensive framework.

Japan currently ranks 17/166 in terms of global SDG performance, but improvement areas are clear: gender equality, climate action and conserving life on land and below water. Other notable sustainability challenges for Japan include managing the super-ageing population, decarbonising energy generation, reducing plastic waste and curbing food loss.

Our sustainability practice

Sustainability is an imperative for all brands to act upon, with long-term growth being intrinsically tied to action in the space.

We've worked a range of brands on their sustainability challenges across Japan and globally. Get in touch with our team to see how we can help your business:

James Hollow

James Hollow
Founder / CEO

Kaori Nagy

Kaori Nagy
Business Director

How might we better understand our customers and employees so we can take meaningful action on sustainability initiatives?

Read the full report to push your organisation forward on sustainability.


Related case studies

Go Explore more

Strategic Design x Sustainability

Amazon | Envisioning sustainable futures for Amazon Japan


Strategic Design

LIXIL | Shaping an innovation-led employee experience at LIXIL


Sustainability x Strategic Design

SK-II | Evolving the SK-II loyalty program around conscious consumers