Honda Counts on New Fit to Match Great Expectations for Tiny Car

Posted by Dale Buss on July 23, 2013 04:41 PM

Subcompact cars have become one of the most vibrant segments of the US auto industry, but Honda has been largely left behind—surprisingly so, for a brand that made its mark as a small-car expert. Through June, US sales of Honda's entry in the segment, the Fit, were only about 25,500 units, putting it in sixth place in a category where Nissan's Versa and Kia's Soul were fighting for leadership, each with about 63,000 sales.

Now, however, Honda appears to be pulling out all the stops in launching a completely new version of Fit in Japan this fall and in the United States by next summer. The tiny car will incorporate and represent a number of big firsts for Honda, placing stakes on the success of Fit that Honda executives couldn't have imagined even two years ago.Continue reading...

chew on this

McDonald's Readies to Make Bigger Imprint in Asia with 2014 Vietnam Debut

Posted by Adeline Chong on July 22, 2013 11:56 AM

McDonald’s announced recently that it will be opening its first outlet in Vietnam next year in Ho Chi Minh City, the country's commercial hub. 

While the fast-food giant has an immense presence in greater Asia, McDonald's is late to market in Vietnam, where Yum! Brands' KFC and Pizza Hut, along with Burger King, Subway, Jollibee (Philippines), and Lotteria (South Korea) already have a solid presence. Trailblazer KFC opened its first restaurant in 1997 and now has 100 outlets in Vietnam. Burger King, meanwhile, opened just last year and has 12 outlets, while Starbucks opened its first location in Ho Chi Minh City this past February. 

McDonald’s apparently considered the market over a decade ago, however the lack of a domestic cource of beef and a poor supply-chain infrastructure deterred the company. Prior to that, the company was briefly banned from the country in the 1990s—about the time that the local economy became accessible to the rest of the world, according to the Financial Times.Continue reading...


The Week in China: Chatting with the CEO of 'China's Foursquare,' China's Insatiable Auto Market and more

Posted by Abe Sauer on July 12, 2013 01:47 PM

At top: Ok, it's not China but it is great. Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's political party woos support by launching "a smartphone app called Abe Pyon, which roughly translates as Jumping Abe."

China is the second largest economy in the world and every significant brand's future is impacted by its growth (or collapse)—but who's got the time?! Here's the week's reads that will make you look like a keen China observer in case you find yourself immersed in a cultural conversation.

This week: An interview with "China's Foursquare" Jiepang about "Jiepang 5.0"… Lacing auto sales add-ons… banned lingerie ads… Bruce Lee for scotch… Foxconn for "iPhone 6"… McDonald's gives away Kleenex… Asiana post-crash PR… Australia's "Chinese theme park"… Xiaomi leaks… China spoofs Jay-Z again... and more.Continue reading...

ad watch

Herbal Essences Taps Shirtless American Hunks for Shampoo Sales in Japan

Posted by Abe Sauer on July 12, 2013 11:42 AM

Not English teachers. Sexy, shirtless English teachers.

That's Herbal Essences' new approach to sell shampoo in Japan in a market increasingly full of elderly people.

Japan's beauty products market is second only to America's. But Brazil is poised to soon change that as its market booms and Japan's struggles, facing a predicted compound annual growth rate to 2017 of just 4 percent. The nation's population is quickly aging and shrinking. A bad combination for a cosmetics brand.Continue reading...

brand mascots

When Hello Kitty Met Pedobear: The Kumamon Craze

Posted by Abe Sauer on July 8, 2013 02:57 PM

While the US struggles with multiple cartoon mascot controversies, Japan's Kumamon is taking the rest of the world by storm.

The mascot of the high speed train of Kumamoto City ("kumamon" means "bear thing" in Japanese) was launched in 2010 and is now a fixture of Japanese culture as well as an increasing number of branding and marketing campaigns. It's only the most popular anthropomorphized mascot in Japan's robust history of anthropomorphized mascots. But don't confuse Kumamon for Pedobear, another of Japan's popular kuma exports.Continue reading...

brands under fire

Monsanto Halts GMO Lobbying Efforts in Europe as Firestorm Builds from Wheat Discovery

Posted by Sheila Shayon on June 4, 2013 04:41 PM

Following global anti-GMO marches and the discovery of unapproved GMO wheat in an Oregon field, the latest blow to Monsanto has been dealt by its own governance. The company, which manufactures genetically-modified organisms announced that it would cease its GMO lobbying efforts in Europe as it faces increasing opposition from the European Union and local farmers. 

"We are no longer working on lobbying for more cultivation in Europe," said Brandon Mitchner, representative for Monsanto’s European branch, Tageszeitung in an interview, according to "Currently we do not plan to apply for the approval of new genetically modified crops. The reason is, among other things, low demand of the farmers.” Monsanto Germany spokeswoman Ursula Luttmer-Ouazane added, "We've understood that such plants don't have any broad acceptance in European societies. It is counterproductive to fight against windmills."  

Most recently, Austria, Bulgaria, France, Greece, Hungary, Luxembourg, Poland and Italy have joined the EU in wanting to ban the cultivation of GM crops, invoking an environmental protection provision knows as the "Safeguard Clause." Monsanto competitors Bayer CropScience, BASF and Syngenta have already pulled out of the German market due to widespread opposition.Continue reading...


The Week in China: VW Nostalgia, Kung Fu Chili Pepper, McDonald's Mega Fries and more

Posted by Abe Sauer on May 17, 2013 01:46 PM

China is the second largest economy in the world and every significant brand's future is impacted by its growth (or collapse)—but who's got the time?! Here's the week's reads that will make you look like a keen China observer in case you find yourself immersed in a cultural conversation.

This week: VW gets nostalgic... Luxury brands suffer... Starbucks canbalizes itself... Apple "ruins" family life... Translating cat app... Tencent profits... BYD... Let Li... Dutch infant formula... What Taobao can tell you about breast size... McDonald's McCafe absurdity... Face toothpaste... What a poorly made $30 hamburger reveals about China's middle class... and more.Continue reading...

political brands

Abenomics: The Bras and Skirts of Japan's Branded Political Legacy

Posted by Abe Sauer on May 14, 2013 12:42 PM

The "Branomics Bra" lingerie package aims to piggyback on Japan's booming economic growth to "help bust sizes to get bigger." Wishful thinking.

"Branomics" is just the latest marketing stunt attempting to capitalize on Japan's craze for "Abenomics," itself an all-or-nothing marketing stunt created as part of an ambitious rebrand of Japan's top politician. The "Branomics" package comes with a bow and arrow for good reason. A core detail of Prime Minister Sinzo Abe's "Abenomics" is the "three arrows" for growth: stimulus spending, monetary policy shifts and regulation easing.Continue reading...

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