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...


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...

games people play

Japan's Edge In Mobile Gaming

Posted by Sheila Shayon on December 12, 2013 10:05 AM

Japan is arguably the leader in the psychology of mobile gaming. “In Japan, each downloaded game earns three times the global average on Apple devices and six times the world-wide norm on Android devices, according to an App Annie report out yesterday.  

“Better than any other country, Japan's mobile game makers have cracked the revenue code despite having few world-wide megahits,” says The Wall Street Journal. “The secret: an industry that is constantly experimenting with new ways to master the psychology of mobile payments.”  

Cash from global games has placed Japan ahead of the U.S. in app revenue on phones and tablets overall, and App Annie reports that in October 2012, Japanese gamers spent 30 percent less than U.S. consumers on gaming apps, but this October, it reversed to roughly 30 percent more spent. Continue reading...


Nissan Hopes Diplomacy Holds, Tech Entices as It Again Pursues Growth Targets in China

Posted by Dale Buss on December 6, 2013 07:14 PM

Nissan is crossing its fingers that its renewed growth in China won't be sabotaged again by geopolitical shenanigans in the East China Sea. But that's not all the Japanese brand is doing: Nissan is pursuing distinct new strategies for the low and high segments of the world's largest auto market, and elsewhere.

Overall, Nissan has forecast that its growth in China will outpace industrywide sales growth there for the first time in three years as consumers return to Japanese brands after Chinese auto buyers abandoned Nissan, Toyota and Honda in droves last year when a diplomatic row erupted between Japan and China over disputed islands and surrounding waters.

"Fortunately to date, we haven't seen the recurrence of the uproar in demonstrations and the violence targeting Japanese companies that happened" then in China, Joseph Peter, Nissan's CFO, told Bloomberg.Continue reading...


Cool Japan Fund Wants You to Eat, Wear and Watch All Things Japanese

Posted by Adeline Chong on November 29, 2013 05:21 PM

Ask a few people on the streets of New York, Los Angeles, London, Sydney or Singapore to name Japan's most famous export and you are likely to get the answer "Toyota" or "Sony." What you are unlikely to hear are washoku (Japanese cuisine) or the brand Undercover (a coveted Japanese streetwear clothing label).

The Japanese government is hoping to change all that with the launch of the Cool Japan Fund this week. The Fund is aimed at promoting Japanese products such as food and beverage, clothing labels, crafts, and content such as anime and manga, that may have achieved popularity overseas but have not seen that popularity translate to profit, often due to the lack of a good business model, or lack of funding and foreign headquarters.

Any concerns about "Cool Japan" being just a marketing slogan ("Cool Britannia" comes to mind), can be put aside. Close to $1 billion has been committed to the fund—which aims to also help under-the-radar companies with great potential that would not have been able to flourish without the cash injection—to expand abroad. The funds will come mainly from public coffers, with a portion from private companies such as ANA Airlines and advertising giant Dentsu Inc., which are already on board.Continue reading...

social media

Shiseido Brings Japanese Culture to Global Consumers

Posted by Sheila Shayon on November 25, 2013 12:41 PM

Japanese brand Shiseido, the oldest cosmetics and skincare company in the world, has launched a Facebook campaign that digitizes the centuries-old Japanese tradition of wishing wall prayers.

Shiseido’s #ShareTheEma app brings the ancient tradition of donating horses to temples in exchange for wishes into the modern era. Fans can pick one of eight "emas" that focus on positive virtues such as compassion, kindness or strength, to share on a friend or loved one’s Facebook wall. Fans that engage with the emas will be entered to win Shiseido products—increasing their entries with every ema shared. 

The initiative is just the latest from the global brand that introduces a bit of local culture to customers.Continue reading...


Infiniti Finally Turns To China, Japan in Quest for Bigger Piece of Premium Market

Posted by Dale Buss on November 19, 2013 03:57 PM

When Renault-Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn recruited Johan de Nysschen to head the Infiniti brand last year, he wanted his new recruit to accomplish much the same for Nissan's luxury brand as de Nysschen had done in turning around the fortunes of Audi in the US market. Only Ghosn wanted it done on a global basis.

Some of the results of de Nysschen's disruptive new strategy have become evident now, as Infiniti newly targets both China and its home country of Japan as it attempts to achieve Ghosn's target of 10 percent of the world premium market by 2020.

In China, de Nysschen told Bloomberg, BMW, Mercedes-Benz and his old employer, Audi, "have become so successful that they've become almost a little bit ubiquitous. They're everywhere. And this is where we see a big opportunity with this new emerging premium consumer, to offer them an alternative, reinvent the notion of exclusivity."Continue reading...

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