Pinterest has just launched in Japan, its fourth country outside of the U.S. That Pinterest has prioritized Japan is no surprise -- one of the startup's biggest investors is Rakuten, a popular, Amazon-esque e-commerce site based in Japan.
Those who log in to Pinterest in Japan will now see a Japanese-language version of the site. Japanese search functions have also been improved and other Japan-specific features, like sub-categories encompassing topics that are popular there, have also been added. And there's Rakuten. Japanese users can now log into Pinterest using something called Rakuten Connect, through which all Rakuten products are shoppable, according to TechCrunch.
It will be interesting to see how well Pinterest catches on in Japan. It could make the platform a bigger priority for U.S. brands and retailers since Japan is an important market for many of them.
Here in the U.S., we've seen an increase in brands experimenting with Pinterest, a known sales driver, to launch exclusive content, like J.Crew's September catalog and Topshop's new holiday campaign/gift guide.
Surely, Pinterest's expansion into Japan and other countries will provide opportunities for brands to target those countries, but they'll have to do it in a way that caters to that country's audience. For instance, a recent study shows that in the UK, most users are male, while in the U.S,. they are overwhelmingly female.
As Pinterest continues to expand into new countries (nine more by the end of 2013, the company has said), and experiment with monetization methods like sponsored pins, now is an important time for brands and retailers to get on board.