April 4 2012

JapanConsuming: Headlines April 2012

Highlights from JapanConsuming monthly report

News and Analysis on Japanese retailing and consumers

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Focus: Japanese General Trading Companies’ ever deepening role in the fashion market
Many of Japan’s general trading companies started out trading textiles. While they may now be into everything from nuclear power stations to food retailing, they all retain active textile divisions and are involved in every layer of the fashion market. In the last decade they have increasingly invested down the channel and now often own retail chains and brands themselves. Behind every successful Japanese apparel retailer of the last 15 years is a powerful trading company partner – without which these retailers would likely be a fraction of the size they are now.

Facebook doubles to 13.5m users
Facebook is growing at a tremendous rate in Japan with market penetration rapidly catching up with other countries. A recent survey suggests many Japanese prefer Facebook over local rivals for its global reach and use of real names, both making it easier to find their friends, new and old – Facebook’s tools for commercial companies are also far more mature. Not surprisingly, brand marketers are taking advantage of this growing user base.

Mixi launches online mall with DeNA
Mixi largely owned the SNS market in Japan until last year but under threat from Facebook, and Gree it is now looking to deepen ties with users through add on services that also generate more income. The latest is a shopping mall linking Mixi users to DeNA’s e-commerce backbone.

Beams launches shopping mall brand
The select shop chains are attempting to evolve from their upscale origins into retail groups that bridge the higher end with mass markets. To hit this mass premium zone, they are creating new chains solely for this market. Beams’ latest idea is targeted squarely at Japan’s regional shopping centres with prices 30% lower than a typical Beams store and will, says the company’s senior creative director, be “nothing like the Beams stores you see today”.

Aeon Topvalu brands: new horizons
Aeon’s range of Topvalu private label brands represents the most advanced attempt at supermarket own branding despite 25 years of trying. Own brands in FMCG are common, but their share of the market is tiny in a country where manufacturers dominate. Now, Aeon is about to begin a complete overhaul of the 6,000 or so lines it currently has on offer, including new monthly promotions specifically aimed at boosting awareness and popularity of Topvalu over manufacturer produced rivals.

Look Inc:Strong growth for fashion importers
Japanese subsidiaries of European brands have been boosted by the weak Euro in the last two years, all the more so as retail prices have not really fallen much in response. Japan’s importer-distributors have also been enjoying the benefits along with a rise in spending on premium brands. Many forecast several good years ahead with Look leading the pack.

Qol helps Lawson get into drugstores
With the exception of Recods, a drugstore and convenience store hybrid developed by Aeon Group, this highly anticipated crossover between retail sectors has been slow to appear. Now Lawson and Qol look set to be the second group to develop the new concept to any serious volume.

J Front amalgamates Daimaru and Matsuzakaya online shopping sites
In mid March J Front Retailing reopened its online shopping site, combining the web stores for both Daimaru and Matsuzakaya into a single destination. It also expanded the number of products available for purchase online.

Tokyu Hands opens HINT7
Tokyu Hands is one of Japan’s most distinctive retailers. It balances having a massive inventory of merchandise with the fact that many of its products are unique. Even then Tokyu Hands cannot compete with the internet in terms of range, so the company is now experimenting with stores that encourage customer involvement and community. It is also about to open its first directly operated store overseas.

Uniqlo reopens to big crowds in Ginza
Uniqlo’s new Ginza store opened on 16 March to considerable fanfare. In addition to the seemingly frenzied popularity of its collaboration with Undercover, Fast Retailing fired up its PR team to outline another new strategy to dominate the world, beginning with Asia.

Young consumers love e-money
Younger consumers are making increasing use of e-money through e-wallet smart cards and payment enabled mobile phones. Loyalty points and discounts are attracting more people to use these services as consumers become increasingly cost conscious. Younger consumers have the time, energy and understanding to make the best use of these sometimes complicated systems and many treat the accumulation of points as an end in itself.

Ufufu Girls continues expansion
J Front Retailing has scored a hit with its Ufufu Girls sales floor concept introduced in Shinsaibashi as recently as 2009. It is now open in seven of the company’s main stores, but each store is briefed with making the sales area work in its own market.

Narumiya targets shopping centres
Children’s clothing retailer Narumiya will open more shopping centre tenancies over the next couple of years with 10 new
stores scheduled for this year alone. The aim is to switch sales away from department stores and to get closer to consumers.

News in Brief:
Ted Baker comes to Japan
JR Hakata City gets 54 million visitors in year one
4 new stores for Forever 21
More railways invest in malls and JR East brings farms to Tokyo
World launches basics
Bershka in Kansai
Comptoirs des Cotonniers gets new Aoyama store
Itochu invests in Damiani Japan
J Front to close Daimaru Lalaport
Takashimaya boosted by overseas operations
Lawson opens joint store with Kurukku restaurant chain
Scroll announces cosmetics acquisition
Fewer than two people per household in Tokyo
Seibu lures men with fashion show
Netprice launches another fashion brand app
Futako Tamagawa Rise gets 18 million visitors in first year, starts Phase 2
Sotetsu to rebuild Vivre Yokohama SC
Ministop to open in Kazakhstan
Beisia Denki begins taking telephone orders
Amazon to open major new logistics centre in Gifu
Dinos and Cecile launch joint brand
H2O Holdings raises ¥11 billion for Umeda store investment
Sumitomo tidies fashion business, launches TV and e-commerce in Asia
Recruit launches fashion app with Beams and Lumine
Montbell continues fast growth at home and abroad
Prince Hotel Akasaka to be rebuilt
Cocokara Fine, Growell both opening in China


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