Retail Focus -- Made in Japan?

FrancFrancBy Kevin Mcgue

Foreign branding takes on new life in Japan

One of the first Japanese companies to learn the power of foreign branding started life under the not-so-catchy name of Shokosha Watch Research Institute in 1918.


Retail Focus: Smart Cards

Convenience stores see the highest volume of smart card users.By Sarah Noorbakhsh

The plastic revolution continues.

In almost any busy retail space, a harmony of blips, beeps and hums can be heard as customers slide cards and mobile phones across the colorful pads of smart-card readers to pay for transactions.


Retail Focus: Sample lab!

sample lab!By Sarah Noorbakhsh -- Product paradise in Tokyo’s consumer hot spot. -- It’s often observed that Tokyo is a jungle of advertising, where the uninitiated are bombarded by the colorful sights and sounds of advertising mayhem while natives are all but deaf and blind to these siren calls. To combat the oversaturation, Japan’s kuchi komi, or word of mouth, culture is highly developed, with consumers turning to everything from their best friends to message boards on mobile Web sites to learn the ins and outs of the latest products.


Retail Focus: Sony Plaza

Sony PlazaBy Sarah Noorbakhsh -- Sony Plaza is one of the surprisingly understated leaders in this foreign fetish movement -- While the streets of Tokyo are well known as international hunting grounds for the next big trends, the eyes of Japan’s youth have for decades been, ironically, focused overseas, as teens and young adults peruse magazines featuring fashionistas from Paris and New York while clutching mobile phones adorned with Mickey and Winnie the Pooh. And no matter how popular Harajuku Girls and anime may be abroad, Japanese lifestyles are littered with echoes of Europe and the Americas.


Retail Focus: Natural Lawson

Natural LawsonBy Sarah Noorbakhsh -- Lawson Inc to strengthen one of their weakest markets -- Opened in July 2001 as an effort by Lawson Inc to strengthen one of their weakest markets, new convenience store chain Natural Lawson chose “beauty,” “health” and “comfortable lifestyle” as their keywords to open the door towards marketing for women in their 20s and 30s. The brand became a consolidated subsidiary in 2004, where it grew and prospered until the company restructuring in 2007, when it was liquidated and re-absorbed back into the parent company.


Retail Focus: Super Hotel

Super Hotel Automated check-inBy Sarah Noorbakhsh -- Automated check-in -- While the words ‘business hotel’ in Japan are often synonymous with the image of dark and smoky rooms that would make even a seasoned salary man shudder, Super Hotel has been working since 2000 to change that image into one that feels welcoming not only to business men, but women and families as well. Touting the motto “Japan’s Best Budget Hotel,” this chain offers a number of innovative features that have boosted it into the spotlight. Says President Ryousuke Yamamoto, “We want to be both evolutionary and revolutionary in the budget hotel industry, offering lower prices than possible before while still maintaining high customer satisfaction.”


Measure for Measure

LogoBy Ken Worsley -- Hard industry facts -- The Environment -- Labor and Wages -- Household Budgets and Finance

By Sarah Noorbakhsh -- Analysis on retail venture QB House: QB House -- A trip to the barbershop that was inundated with loads of extra services and carried a price tag to match was the original motivation for Kuniyoshi Konishi, founder of QB Net Co Ltd, to develop the wildly successful QB House. This no-frills bare-bones barber service offers a 10-minute haircut for ¥1000, with a brand image marked by its ubiquitous presence in shopping malls and train stations across the nation.


Market Data & Retail Focus

Symbolby Ken Worsley, Sarah Noorbakhsh, Peter Harris -- Measure For Measure -- Hard information about selected industries, a corporate profile of a major Japanese listed company, and a column on a selected player from the retail industry. -- Retail Focus -- Don Quijote, a chain of one-stop discount shops that offers more than just no-frills low prices, established in Tokyo in 1980. The company listed on the second section of the Tokyo stock exchange in 1998 followed by a listing in the first section in 2000.


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