JapanConsuming Headlines: January 2013

Jan 07
JapanConsuming Jan. 2013

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FOCUS: Non-store retailing set to become largest channel of all
Japanese consumers love to shop, and the growing sophistication of the many non-store purchasing options is adding a whole new dimension. Non-store retailing in its broadest sense is any channel that reaches the final consumer without going through a physical store. It covers paper catalogues and leaflets, TV and radio shopping and a tiny amount of door-to-door sales, but increasingly it means the internet, accessed through both PCs and mobile phones. Selling direct to consumers is older even than selling in stores and Japan has its own thriving non-store sector led by companies that have been in operation for up to 100 years. At the same time, e-commerce (EC) is transforming the entire industry, forcing older firms to change as new companies rapidly soak up market share, with the result that non-store retailing is set to overtake GMS stores as the largest retail channel within a few years.

IKEA Japan: playing the long game
IKEA Japan continues to adjust and adapt to the local market. It now has six stores in operation with two more confirmed. It is the second largest furniture retailer in the country and has a brand sense and design appeal that far exceeds any domestic rivals. Even so, IKEA’s main corporate strength is that it still wants to do better.

Urban Research to launch mass market fashion chain
There is a new challenger in fashion mass markets. Urban Research is still catching up with its older rivals in the select shop business, but it has decided to launch an entirely new business aiming for the faster end of the mass fashion market.

J Front Retailing up 37.2% in November, 11.3% in 1H
J Front Retailing is on a roll. While sales have been boosted by the inclusion of Parco in its accounts, upgraded stores along with popular new tenants have also helped. As well as the enticing, albeit far off, prospect of a completely new SC in the middle of Ginza in 2017, J Front is working closely with new Asian partners to expand overseas.

Locondo sales to triple this year
Launching a month before March 2011 was bad luck for Locondo but a series of expensive TV ad campaigns from the start was one venture business strategy too many. Since then Locondo has scaled back, become more humble, and adopted the less risky portal business model. As a result, sales have risen fast. day one

Seven & I: private brands redesigned
Most see private brands or PBs as products developed and branded by retailers rather than manufacturers. The best are designed both for higher profitability and to better meet customer needs. However increasing numbers of retailers in Japan are changing this way of thinking, asking major manufacturers to develop and design product in return for putting a retailer’s logo on the package and selling through a single chain. This approach makes sense for manufacturers, but it represents a missed opportunity for retailers.

Tokyu Store tries Cookpad
Tokyu Store has signed up Cookpad, the leading recipe recommendation engine and social network, to recommend recipes to customers at its stores. The idea of recipe recommendations is not new in itself, but Cookpad adds a whole new dimension, allowing customers to plan their purchase before they even get to the store, while Tokyu Store allows easy shopping for ingredients usually right near the station.

Railway retail up, more SCs to come
Retail revenues now make up more than 40% of the income of private railway operators in the Tokyo region and continue to rise. Malls make train stations more attractive to visit and pass through, attract more footfall, and provide a source of growth fixed rail tracks cannot. They are increasingly sucking away trade from nearby shopping streets and not surprisingly, there are plans for more.

Select shop style merchandising works for Yokohama Sogo
Sogo Seibu is currently leading the department store sector in terms of in-store innovations, rapidly implementing ideas and concepts that most other chains need months to plan and years to try. The new directly merchandised sales area for 40-50s women in Yokohama Sogo is a case in point.

More online fashion stores
Consumers have less and less issue with buying clothing online, and retailers and direct marketers are working hard to cash in. While Rakuten, Amazon and Start Today lead in sales volume, there are other smaller niche players, and more coming online every day. The latest is from Tokyu.

Itochu: more brands, ties with Edwin
Itochu has signed yet more brands in the last couple of months, adding to its portfolio of more than 160. It has also moved quickly to shore up Japan’s largest denim business, Edwin, following a series of disastrous investments. In all these recent deals, it is not just Japan but China and the rest of Asia that is really driving the trading firm.

Mitsubishi Estate launches shopping centre brand, more outlet malls
Mitsubishi Estate is one of the largest SC developers in the country but unlike Mitsui has no distinct shopping centre brand. From this year it will create one as a rival to Lalaport. At the same time, it is rebranding its outlet mall subsidiary in time for the opening of its ninth outlet mall in April. It is optimistic about the potential market for outlet shopping in Japan, suggesting a potential of 70 malls, up from 37 today. rival

Sony trials ‘get fit’ loyalty system
Getting shoppers to visit traditional shopping arcades (shotengai) is hard enough, but getting them to stay is even harder. The shotengai at Takamatsu in Shikoku, for long a model on how to survive in the modern world, has teamed up with Sony to reward visitors that stay.

Familymart implements disaster failsafes
Familymart introduced a new supply chain system with built in redundancy in November. The hope is that by having a more flexible system, the convenience store chain can stay in operation and maintain supplies even in a major disaster.

Tokyu SC to take on more properties
Tokyu Land Shopping Centre Management (TSM) is to expand management of third party shopping centres. While Japan has a number of major mall management companies, most SCs are managed by the big development companies such as Aeon, JR East, JR West, Mitsui Real Estate, Mitsubishi Estate and Nomura. TSM is also a developer in its own right and the move into independent SC management is unusual.

News in Brief
H&M now targeting Aeon malls
Alexandre Mattiussi in Japan
Yahoo and Lawson tie for new netsuper
Amazon sets up PR showroom
Zozo sales jump
Daimaru Matsuzakaya ties with Mixi
Recruit to offer fast smartphone marketing to wedding venues
Isetan wins award for its tartan
Atre, Mori, Parco using events to keep shoppers interested
Sanyo Shokai up 4.9%
Heart Market to hit ¥10 billion next year
K’s Denki: massive store expansion
20 American Eagle stores within 3 years
Takisada enters fashion retail market with ¥50 billion fund
23 million visit Terrace Mall Shonan in first year
Buyma ties with Kaboodle
Isetan Shinjuku bag & accessories sales jump 60%
Dondondown on Wednesday buys Hanjiro
E-commerce takes 7% of consumer electronics market
Yodobashi Camera to sell books online
Toppan brings e-books in store
Edion slows store openings
Senshukai continues to expand retail stores

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