I was in Japan last month and took the opportunity to look at what was trending in consumer products and marketing, and to meet and talk to people about their perception of New Zealand. I also wanted to see how life was a year on from the devastating earthquake, tsunami and subsequent nuclear disaster.
It had been 15 years since I was last in Japan and I was curious to see what might have changed in a country where the speed of change can be akin to watching a snail move.
The first word that jumped out at me was the use of ECOLOGY in advertising and billboards. There is a big trend towards environmentally friendly products and a change in consciousness around waste and lifestyle.
Food safety is still a huge concern after the nuclear contamination and although the threat is small and contained to one area, the thought of it is evident in shoppers’ minds. Country of origin is now a more important issue.
Organic shops have popped up all over Tokyo. In a busy train station near our hotel was a bustling organic shop, one of many we saw on our travels in the city. All of the shops had a fairly good selection of international products but noticeably few from New Zealand.
Japanese women are known worldwide for their great skin and while science has shown the biggest reason is down to diet (in fact it seems to be the seaweed in particular) there is a huge market in skincare products. We walked into a few natural skincare shops in the department stores and train stations and of the hundreds of products on display were disappointed to see only one New Zealand brand. Other natural brands have gone to the huge expense of setting up their own shops in the myriad of small shops that are attached to underground malls to build brand.
New Zealand is perceived by Japanese as a clean, green and pure country. Our opportunity at the moment is to take advantage of what is unique about our natural products and market them in that way to the Japanese.
E-commerce sales are soaring in Japan and grew almost 17% in 2010, and while it dropped off somewhat last year after the disasters it is now showing signs of rapid growth. Amazon Japan rates number two in the market and is close to matching the local Rakuten marketplace site in market share.
I am very excited to be able to provide a new route into Japan for New Zealand products through World Wide Access to grow your brand in Japan.
Contact me, Alister Gates, [email protected] or call 021 2430640 for more information.