Retail buyer decision-making in Japan: What US sellers need to know

Frank Alpert*, Michael Kamins, Tomoaki Sakano, Naoto Onzo, John Graham

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)


With formal trade barriers in Japan virtually eliminated, attention has turned to the structural or non-tariff barriers that might help explain persistent trade deficits with Japan that the US and many other countries have experienced. In this study, the first empirical examination of its kind, we analyze how the Japanese distribution system serves as a structural barrier to entry. To do so, we surveyed Japanese supermarket buyers about the individual and relative importance of five key factors in their choice of suppliers. In addition, we used similar data from a previous study of retail buyers in the United States to develop the first cross-cultural comparison of retailer decision-making. Important differences in the nature and conduct of business relationships in the two countries suggest several ways that US sellers - and indeed, all foreign sellers - might address the disadvantages they face in the Japanese market.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)91-112
Number of pages22
JournalInternational Business Review
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1997 Apr
Externally publishedYes


  • Marketing to Japan
  • Retail buying
  • Trade barriers

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business and International Management
  • Finance
  • Marketing


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