Best Global Green Brands 2014

brand challenges

Sony Throws in the Towel on PC Business as It Turns Focus to Gaming, Mobile

Posted by Mark J. Miller on February 7, 2014 01:39 PM

It's been a rough decade for Sony, and it doesn't look to be getting much better. The international electronics brand announced recently that it expects to lose $1.1 billion in the current fiscal year on continued losses from its PC and TV businesses. 

As a result of slowing PC sales as consumer move to tablets and smartphones, Sony said it will sell its VAIO PC brand to investment fund Japan Industrial Partners. Its television-manufacturing unit, which has lost $7.8 billion over the last decade, will be spun off into a “separate, wholly owned subsidiary,” according to the New York Times. The last time Sony's TV unit turned a profit was in March 2004, while global PC sales fell by 10 percent last year.

In addition to the restructuring of its business units, Sony will lay off 5,000 employees, most of whom will likely come from outside its Japan homebase.Continue reading...

tech in the spotlight

30 Years After Mac, Apple Cranks Up Innovation for Eager Consumer Market

Posted by Mark J. Miller on January 24, 2014 05:02 PM

While today marks the 30th anniversary of Apple's iconic and game-changing Macintosh computer, the Best Global Brand isn't spending much time on nostalgia. Instead, it's pressing forward into new product realms and perfecting the ones it currently rules after a period of static development, to the dismay of competitors like Samsung.

With new ventures in wearable technology on the horizon, expansion of its iPhone line to suit bigger tastes, and budding partnerships in TV and autos, Apple has never been better. As for the competition, well, they've seen better days. 

Samsung, the world’s largest smartphone maker and Apple arch rival saw its growth "slow sharply" in the fourth quarter—the first time the company has recorded a decrease between quarters since 2011. While prospects for the first-half of 2014 are weak for Samsung, Apple can expect a marked boost now that it has officially sealed a deal with China Mobile, the world's largest carrier, as well as one with Japan's largest carrier, according to the New York Times.Continue reading...

brand vs. brand

KitKat Presses On Abroad Despite Continued Legal Troubles

Posted by Mark J. Miller on January 21, 2014 04:58 PM

Kit Kat and Cadbury have had their fair share of squabbles. Most recently, Nestle's KitKat blocked Mondelez-owned Cadbury from trademarking its signature purple hue that it has used for years, but now Cadbury has struck back.

The UK's biggest chocolate maker has been trying to block KitKat from trademarking the shape of its candy bars—which has been in use since about 1935—in the UK. The case is now being reviewed by the European Union Court of Justice in Luxembourg. Nestle already holds the trademark for the bar in the rest of Europe. 

But the legal wrangling hasn't kept KitKat from furthering its brand.Continue reading...

brand and bottle

$16 Billion Beam Inc. Acquisition Will See Greater Distribution of Whiskey Brands

Posted by Mark J. Miller on January 13, 2014 05:22 PM

Liquor giants Diageo and Pernod Ricard can start looking over their shoulders. Japan’s Suntory Holdings, which produces some of Japan’s oldest whiskeys, has just agreed to pay $16 billion for Beam Inc., the American producer of Maker’s Mark, Jim Beam, Sauza, and Gilbey’s, Ad Age reports. The deal makes Suntory the third-largest liquor company in the world. 

As a result of the deal, Suntory, which also bottles Pepsi in Japan and owns the Orangina brand, will have greater distribution in the US and Beam, whose portfolio includes the lucrative Skinnygirl line, will have much stronger exposure in the Asian marketplace. That’s a pretty good deal for Suntory, which currently sources 90 percent of its business from Japan. 

“Suntory has virtually no U.S. presence,” Mark Swartzberg, an analyst at Stifel Financial Corp., said in a research note today, according to Bloomberg. “This will take their share from less than 1 percent to 11 percent. Meanwhile, Beam stockholders will head to the bank with $83.50 for each share owned instead of the $66.97 share price that it last closed at." The two companies previously had a distribution deal in which Suntory distributed Beam products in Japan, and Beam distributed Suntory products in Singapore and greater Asia.Continue reading...

car talk

Ford Hopes New Fiesta Makes Japan Auto Market a Little Less Inscrutable

Posted by Dale Buss on January 10, 2014 06:27 PM

Ford is looking to make a huge impression at the Detroit auto show on Monday with the anticipated unveiling of a new version of its F-150 pickup truck, America's best-selling vehicle and the anchor of one of the largest lines of vehicles in the US market.

But meanwhile in Japan, Ford is trying to chip away at decades of frustrations in that market by fielding a tiny new vehicle that it believes gives the brand the best chance yet to crack what has always been a nearly impenetrable place.

The new car is a Fiesta tailored for global drivers, complete with advanced anticollision technology, a fuel-saving engine and its lowest price tag yet for a car it will sell in Japan—2.29 million yen, or $21,800, according to the New York Times.Continue reading...

cocktail hour

All the News You Can Drink: Japanese Whiskey Boom, 'Frappicino' No No, American Drinking Trends and more

Posted by Mark J. Miller on January 3, 2014 08:27 PM

Japan's Whiskey Boom

Japan isn’t the first country most people think of when contemplating the best whiskey in the world, but the country’s distilleries are in the midst of a boom time and production and exports are scheduled to go up this year, according to Reuters.

The concern, though, is that a similar boom suddenly died in the 1990s, which caused a few smaller distilleries to shut down. The hope is to not see a repeat of those events while producing enough whiskey to meet the currently rising demand.

"At the moment, no one can see this boom busting,” said Marcin Miller, an importer of small-batch Japanese whisky. "The difficulty is that you're making it today for 20 or 50 years' time." 

So drink up, world.Continue reading...

chew on this

Think McDonald's Has Problems in the US? Try Owning a Golden Arches in Japan

Posted by Dale Buss on December 20, 2013 01:46 PM

McDonald's woes in the United States are well-documented, but the brand actually has it worse in Japan. The McDonald's 50 percent-owned affiliate in that country plans to close dozens of outlets and slashed its full-year profit forecast by more than half.

Sales fell for five straight months through November in the world's third-largest economy, Bloomberg noted. The company blamed lower "customer numbers," the news service said. Presumably a 25 percent increase in McDonald's burger prices in Japan, which the chain indicated last spring it would implement, had something to do with the poor results as well.

The company also blamed expenses for outlet closures and store renovations aimed at luring more customers, which will be booked this year.Continue reading...

auto motive

How Do You Sell a Non-Japanese Car in Japan? Global Automakers Couldn't Tell You

Posted by Dale Buss on December 19, 2013 12:41 PM

The world benefits from a variety of Japanese exports ranging from anime to sushi cuisine to Toyotas. But its auto market remains a redoubt of isolationism a generation after American carmakers made a political issue out of it. More than 90 percent of cars sold in Japan are still Japanese brands.

And this, according to the Wall Street Journal, has hurt Japan's automakers in ways similar to how Japanese smartphone makers have been handicapped around the world by gearing the features of their phones, sold globally, to the particular tastes of Japanese consumers.

"Their shortcomings led to the coining of the term 'Galapagos' to describe the market," the newspaper said. "Like the group of islands catalogued by Charles Darwin: uniquely evolved and ultimately at a disadvantage because of its isolation."Continue reading...

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