Online shopping behavior in Asia – Comparing cross-device consumer behavior using passive metering in Japan and Taiwan – Part I

We are happy to share our latest case study with you that was presented at MRMW APAC 2017 together with GMO Research. In this study, we compared the cross-device consumer behavior in Japan and Taiwan with a special focus on shopping.

With this study, we not only revealed the overall purchase behavior and customer journeys in these markets, but also highlighted some of the biggest differences (and similarities!) between them. We hope you enjoy this first part!

Research objective

While we have conducted studies in Asia before (Japan was one of the countries we profiled in our global case study), we had yet to demonstrate how behavioral data can be effectively used to paint a picture of two very different Asian markets. Although they are only around 1,000km apart geographically, Japan and Taiwan have so many cultural differences, that we decided to explore whether these differences extend to people’s online behavior and the way they shop online. We also used smartphone purchasing as an example for an individual paths to purchase in both countries.

Research design


We used a mixed research approach, leveraging both survey-based research and passive metering to understand the participants’ online behavior in Japan and Taiwan. Using a pre-survey, we targeted consumers in Japan and Taiwan who were considering purchasing a smartphone in the coming month. We tracked 256 Japanese and 225 Taiwanese panelists from the GMO Research online panel. In total, we tracked 910 days on desktop, and 802 days on mobile across all participants.

Research results

Device usage

The first and most striking difference we found when we examined the data of both countries was the discrepancy in device usage.


Taiwanese panelists spent roughly 1 ¼ hours on their desktop device per day on average, and only 20 minutes on their mobile device. In contrast, Japanese panelists spent 2 hours on their desktop, and 2 ½ hours on their mobile device per day on average.

This means that Japanese panelists spent almost twice as much time on their desktop, and almost seven times more time on their mobile devices than our Taiwanese panelists.

Moreover, Japanese panelists spent roughly 15 more minutes on their mobile than desktop devices, while Taiwanese spent 3,5 times more time on their desktop devices.

Top 5 domains

Apart from device usage, we also established a top 5 ranking of the most commonly used domains and apps across the panels. The ranking is made using reach, meaning the amount of unique visitors within the panel.


The top site for both countries is Yahoo. Yahoo has a strong presence in Japan[1] and Taiwan[2], being used more than any other search engine. However, it is used not only as a search engine, but also as a news site, a shopping platform, as well as for a variety of other functions. A notable exception from the Japan list is Facebook, which reached number 2 for Taiwan but came in at 6th for Japan.

If we rank the top 5 most used sites in Japan by total number of visits, it remains the same except YouTube and Amazon switch places. Facebook falls even further, becoming 13th.

For the Taiwanese top 5, if ranked by total number of visits, Facebook becomes number 1, followed by Yahoo, YouTube and Google. Ruten (a shopping site) joins the top 5 instead of PIXNET.

Top 5 apps

For both countries, similar apps appear in the top 5 – YouTube is number 1, followed by a combination of Line, Google Maps and Google Search. Just like with the domains, it is notable here that Facebook is not present in the Japanese top five (only 51 unique visitors), yet ranks fourth for Taiwan.


Top domain per category

We also identified the top domain per category for both countries, and highlighted the most relevant and interesting ones here. We ranked the domains and apps according to reach percentage[3].


YouTube dominates the audio, video & entertainment category in both countries, having around 70% reach within the panels.

The highest reach in either panel is achieved by Yahoo, which is in line with the fact that it is the number 1 domain overall for both Japan and Taiwan.

While Facebook has the highest reach percentage in the social category for Japan, it is still relatively low when compared to Taiwan, where it is around 90%. This shows that there is more of an open market in social media platforms for Japan – in terms of total visits, both Twitter and Ameblo beat Facebook.

On the other hand, Rakuten has a much higher reach percentage in Japan than Ruten has in Taiwan, since there is less diversity in the shopping domains used in Japan than there was in Taiwan.

Top app per category


As with domains, YouTube is number 1 for audio, video and entertainment for apps as well. Here, we can also see the popularity of Line quite clearly, which is the region's most used messaging app with more than 560 million users across Japan, Taiwan and Thailand.[4]

Yahoo makes an appearance again as the top news app for Japan, while News Republic is number 1 for Taiwan.

In terms of social apps, Twitter ranks higher in reach percentage than Facebook for Japan, but Facebook is still number 1 for Taiwan.

Coming up

In the next part, we will shed light onto the top shopping domains and apps for both countries, as well as examine some individual paths to purchase for two smartphone purchases.

[1]Search interest for Google, Yahoo! Japan by time, location and popularity on Google Trends. Retrieved June, 2017, from

[2]Search interest for Google, Yahoo! by time, location and popularity on Google Trends. Retrieved June, 2017, from

[3] Reach percentage is defined as unique visitors in relation to the total N of the panel.

[4] McCracken, H. (2015, November 02). How Japan's Line App Became A Culture-Changing, Revenue-Generating Phenomenon. Retrieved June, 2017, from