Friday, 16 January 2009


Japan is the country of Kawaii - meaning cute (amongst others). Doing some pretty serious retailing research in Japan we found out that even grown up businesses are heavily influenced by this miraculous little word. 

Women determine what is bought and what not. Men get pocket money. Cars, food, travel goods, clothes,  anything really, bought by women. What do women want? Colour and pretty curves basically. This means that entire categories have to adopt to this and that foreign brands have to be well aware of the impact it has on their ranges. This combined with a very strong hype culture makes doing business in Japan tricky to say the least.

In our specific research - travel goods - we found a market dominated by a few players well aware on the might of the retailer and consumers. Double or Nothing is the game. Once you're in, you're doing well. Once you're out, you're out for good. Quality problems? Say by to the brand. Not cute? Same deal. Made in China? Rather not. Luggage brands that did well managed to please everybody: curves, colours, coolness and country of origin. 

What did we learn? Interviewing in Japan is tiring - try to sit in the same hot blue cubicles for days on a row - but Japanese are actually open for business. The ones that have stamina and try to do everything right have a pretty good chance to actually making it out there.

And, don't forget to bring 'stroopwafels'!

1 comment:

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