FOCUS: Chasing the tourist shopper: retail marketing strategies for inbound tourists in Japan
Japan is enjoying unprecedented growth in inbound tourism. Department stores, hotels and overseas brands are benefiting first and foremost, but other formats are also eagerly introducing services and ranges directly targeting the tourist market. Most of these services have, so far, remained basic, concentrating on duty-free sales and acceptance of Chinese debit and credit cards. However, there is considerable scope for greater segmentation. International chains have an advantage, knowing more about customers in other markets, but the variety of tourists visiting Japan and their interests and spending patterns reveal plenty of opportunity to exploit this rapidly growing market further.
Itochu to marry Familymart to Uny in new food retail empire
As was predicted for some time, Itochu has brokered merger talks between Familymart and Circle K Sunkus (CKS). As if the possibility of a merger between the number three and number four convenience stores wasn’t tantalising enough, Familymart may go all the way and merge with Uny, CKS’s parent company. Negotiations are ongoing, but failing a major personality clash, some new alignment is almost certain to emerge simply because Itochu wants it, shaking up both convenience and GMS sectors in one fell swoop.
LINE@ helps brands reach fans
LINE dominates instant messaging in Japan. It is now beginning to exploit the value of its database, helping brands and retailers reach new audiences and finding ways to engage with consumers that, potentially at least, will entertain rather than annoy. The new LINE@ service makes it easier than ever to deliver promotions as well as conduct opinion polls and get real time feedback from fans and customers – and even broadcast live fashion shows from Burberry in London.
Seven & I ties with Jean Paul Gaultier
Seven & I has been busy recently. As well as launching a new home fashion chain (see page 7) and making Barney’s Japan a full subsidiary, it has found time to negotiate a deal with Jean Paul Gaultier for a new apparel line to be sold through both Sogo Seibu and Ito-Yokado. After so many efforts to reignite its apparel business, could it at last have found a solution?
Kitsch paradise: Isetan-Mitsukoshi targets young in Harajuku and online
Isetan-Mitsukoshi’s spate of innovations in the last year has included most segments and most areas of Japanese life but there was one that seemed out of reach until now: the teen market. Last month it unveiled the latest iteration of its Alta shopping building in Harajuku, a festival of pink that may turn into a national chain.
Consumption continues to flounder as wage rises disappoint
As recently as February, leading economists were doing their utmost to convince major Japanese companies to tow the government line and plough some of their recent profit gains back into wage increases. In the end company generosity turned out to be measly and most consumers are left increasingly doubtful of seeing any benefit from Abenomics.
Seven & I targets growing home fashion market with Bon Bon Home
Seven & I now owns two brands serving the home market, Loft and Bals, and it also sells a plethora of household products through Ito-Yokado. It is now forming synergies between these disparate businesses. The first result is a new specialty chain called Bon Bon Home, designed specifically to exploit the growing demand for home fashion. The new concept also looks like being the first major step in changing how the Ito-Yokado GMS chain is managed, shifting from a general merchandise model to mini-SC with food at the core.
H2O and Takashimaya claim deeper collaboration
H2O Retailing and Takashimaya have been flirting for years but have never got together. The two department stores now claim they will deepen collaboration, yet at the same time reducing their respective equity holdings in each other. The two firms were never a good match, and the latest announcement suggests a still minimal level of cooperation. This makes sense for H2O, but Takashimaya is looking isolated.
Otsuka Kagu: a house no longer divided, but does it have a future?
Like a TV soap drama, Otsuka Kagu finally settled its protracted leadership battle at the end of March, with the founder and chairman summarily removed by, of all people, his own daughter. While just a political spat in a company that is past its prime, the story reveals a lot about how furniture retailing has changed over the past 10 years.
ABC Mart launches new chain
ABC Mart continues the relentless expansion of its main chain, but is also experimenting with a variety of smaller select shop style formats, particularly in fashion markets. Its latest, Ace Shoes, has been designed for fashion buildings, stations and even department stores, with fashion trend leaders the core target.
70% of young expect to stay single
In a somewhat depressing survey result, almost three quarters of a sample of 20 year old women said they thought it likely they would spend their lives alone, even if most of them did hold out hope they would find love and marry eventually.
News in Brief
Itochu signs FitFlop
A seamless logistics solution for online SMEs
Seven Eleven enters Tottori and Aomori
Singapore cafe tcc in Japan
Senshukai acquires stake in Yukijirushi Megmilk
Emporio opens second store for Muy Mucho
Amazon Japan launches sales of BMW electric cars
Tokyu cancels deal with Isetan-Mitsukoshi
Cole Haan opens first ever SC store
Rice getting cheaper
Aeon signs deal with Apple
Coffee shops still popular, Blue Bottle Coffee opens first Japanese branch
Shimamura targets 2,000 stores by 2016
Aeon to open first SC in Indonesia at end of May
Q Plaza opens in Harajuku
Buyma buys 4meee
Urban Research introduces size checking system
Familymart and Softbank to invest in T-Point
Lawson launches mobile shop service in Saga
Start Today acquires Aratana
GU opens 300th store
New store format for Pola
Company and Brand Index this month
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