JapanConsuming Headlines: January 2012

Jan 06
JapanConsuming: January 2012 Edition

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Focus: Online market to hit ¥14 trillion by 2016
The online shopping market is currently the one sure bet in terms of consistent growth year after year. The latest forecasts suggest a doubling in market value by 2016. As important as the market expansion is the way consumers are changing the way they both shop online and how they find brands and stores. The rise of the smartphone and the explosion in tablet sales means more shopping will be done through apps than browsers, and Google and Yahoo now own less of the click through as consumers increasingly buy through links on social networks, with Facebook now rapidly gaining on local rivals.

Ikea and Costco: fun places to shop
What sets truly great retailers apart is a clear, tangible consumer focus. With few exceptions, such a strategy is conspicuously rare in Japan, a point emphasised by international retailers doing so well. Domestic experts often doubt the suitability of overseas formats for Japan, but a focus on the customer wins in all markets.

Yagi Tsusho, Itochu expand import line up
Consumption of branded apparel and accessories has clearly made a comeback in the last 18 months as the results from select shops, branded stores and premium station and shopping buildings show. The seeming stability of the high yen is also giving importers the confidence to expand, providing more opportunities for overseas brands without their own distribution in Japan.

United Arrows and Seijo Ishii: highway service area stores
Shopping centre development has slowed and competition for space and consumer attention at shopping and fashion buildings gets ever more intense. So where next to grow your chain? Where the traffic is. Leading retailers, even in fashion, are now springing up in every transport hub across the nation, from airports to metro stations to highway rest stops.

Skechers sets up Japan business, plans to double sales
Skechers has seen sales fall recently in other markets but Japan has been one source of growth. The US brand will now take over Japanese distribution and plans to greatly increase sales. Whatever its own potential, the timing at least looks good with Japanese sports shoe brands all announcing strong results in the last year and showing optimism about growth in the future too.

World, Jun and Cross Company add to the station store rush
Highway service areas may still be experimental locations, but opening stores within station concourses is becoming common for fashion retailers. Uniqlo and United Arrows have been the most high profile examples, but a stream of other retailers have set up shop within the ticket gates of railways and metro stations in the last year.

Ebook market to triple by 2015
Despite a love for all kinds of electronic gadgets, Japan is not as technologically savvy as some may think. It is, however, quick to catch on. Ebooks are fast becoming a boom market in Japan as a result, with software and content suppliers rushing to catch up and correct issues with the many existing hardware solutions. One area of promise is electronic magazines, free papers and catalogues – all with direct links to shops selling featured product.

Younger women supporting department store cosmetics sales
A regular survey of women’s cosmetics shopping habits shows a clear and expected shift not only to internet sales, but to lower price channels in general. Drugstores are now overwhelmingly the most popular format for cosmetics shopping, and online sales are growing at the highest rate. However, younger women continue to support the department store channel given that they have more time and, arguably, a greater need to learn about cosmetics through counselling services.

Toys R Us Japan: aiming higher with new stores
Christmas 2011 looks to have been a decent year for Japan’s toy retailers, led by market leader Toys R Us. Until recently Toys R Us was beginning to look past its peak in Japan, having stuck with the same model for almost two decades. But it is now looking for new gains from a change in store design. Customers still love it and, with no obvious competitors, there is plenty still to do and lots of market share to gain.

Daiei to push forward on EDLP
Everyday Low Price is seen by some as the holy grail of FMCG retailing. Difficult to implement anywhere, traditional supply practices and an addiction to short-term, manufacturer supported and financed price promotions means that few Japanese retailers have come even close to implementing the idea. Now, Daiei is having another go.

Nafco enters food sector as Kyushu market hots up
Nafco, a hardware and furniture retailer, opened its first supermarket last month, albeit without the three main fresh food categories. Like many of its Kyushu counterparts, the home centre retailer is looking to pull as many customers as possible to its stores as the local economy continues to be sluggish.
Box: Lawson establishes further farm operations in Kyushu

Locondo making a come back
Locondo was launched back in February 2011 as a local competitor to Amazon’s Javari online footwear store. While an immediate hit in its first month, the venture was hurt badly by the earthquake and took several months to gain additional venture funding. Now, however, Locondo’s young, internationally educated management team are looking to expand not only through direct sales, but also by renting online space to major brands.

Bic Camera expands TV shopping channel
Bic Camera is the leading high street retailer in terms of non-store sales, growing the channel by almost 20% last year alone. It has its own small broadcasting arm and has been experimenting with TV sales since 2007, and it has just taken the decision to expand the business to other regional networks, increasing weekly broadcasts to six hours.

News in Brief
Sanrio buys Mr Men
Sotetsu to sell 20% stake to Marubeni
Bags and accessories market fell 4.7% in 2010
Logistics: price less important, risk control is key
Mitsui’s Diver City to open in April with American Eagle Outfitters
Mitsubishi plans new mall in Shizuoka in 2013
American Eagle plans 10 stores within two years
Seven & I introduces new cafe banner
Zozo invests in cosmetics
Maruetsu introduces a simpler netsuper model
Itochu snags Franck Boclet brand for Japan
Toys R Us charged with abuse of channel power
Department stores down 1.9%, tourist sales too
The am/pm name converted to Familymart
Sumisho to open TV shopping netsuper
Pigs contribute to skincare
54 new shopping centres in 2011
Senshukai to revamp catalogues
Belluna opens stores
Aeon to enter Cambodia
Pola opens in Hanoi
Aeon plans more malls
Nespresso opens stand alone store in Osaka
Renown to launch new brand for 20s women
Drugstores adopting medical record databases
Xebio signs with Toyota Tsusho for China expansion
Itochu signs Hind
Ginza Komatsu to open in Marc

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