Kiwis can seem a bit "rugged" and "unsophisticated" in perfection-seeking Japan, a report commissioned to help New Zealand businesses break into the Japanese market has found.

The Through the Japan Looking Glass study found that the Japanese were not as excited by New Zealand as Chinese or Americans.

"Although Japan is one of our biggest trading partners, with bilateral trade of around $7.6 billion in the 12 months to March, 2017, there is a lot of room for growth," the report found.

Kiwis could seem a bit "casual and rugged", something not viewed as a positive in orderly, perfection-seeking Japan.


"Given our agricultural heritage, small population and isolation, the Japanese have a somewhat outdated view of Kiwis, seeing New Zealanders as unsophisticated, lacking global experience and unable to scale services and products."

Vice chairwoman of the Japan New Zealand Business Council Annette Azuma said upcoming sporting events in Japan, such next year's All Blacks game, were opportunities for Kiwi businesses to address some of these negative receptions.

"Before anyone can establish their business in Japan they need to understand some of the commercial and cultural barriers and address these up-front," she said.

Also, "made in New Zealand" didn't necessarily hold as much appeal for a country that viewed local produce as fresher and higher quality.

"To surmount this, businesses need to adopt a 'made for Japan' approach."

However, there were positives to be taken from the study, such as the appeal of New Zealand's "safe but quiet" label amid terrorist scares elsewhere.

Maori culture and the concept of kaitiaki, or guardianship of nature, were also important to the Japanese idea of New Zealand as a place of tradition and care for the environment.

"Everyone knows we've got a gorgeous landscape, but that's not the end of the story," Azuma said.

"I advise businesses to use this as a starting point to educate Japanese contacts on all the other great things about New Zealand, and our world-beating products and services."

The research report was commissioned by Government agency the New Zealand Story Group in partnership with research agency Big Picture.