Apple's iPhone has wowed most of the globe — but not Japan, where the handset is selling so poorly it's being offered for free.
After launching last January in the U.S., Google has now expanded its Public Alerts system to Japan.
From a Lady Gaga prayer bracelet to special sushi rolls at restaurants, the disaster in Japan has led to a rash of relief efforts. But as consumers become increasingly skeptical of cause-related marketing, celebrities, organizations and major marketers have to walk a fine line, trying to help without appearing to exploit the tragedy for profits.
Step back and consider the collective financial power of global brands and it's easy to see how much good they could do in the world. The fact is, many brands make donations and get involved in social and humanitarian causes on a regular basis. But a disaster of the magnitude that struck Japan late last week offers a unique public relations and humanitarian opportunity for brands to participate in relief and recovery.
Congratulations are in order to Nissan Motor Company. Not only did its new 100% electric vehicle the Leaf win the coveted 2011 European Car of the Year Award, but with its official launch today, the manufacturer has already filled its maximum initial order for 6,000 units in Japan and 20,000 units in the United States. More than 6,000 Canadians have expressed interest in buying one, even though it won't be available there until late 2011.
A Japanese resort town has created real-world getaway packages for men and their virtual schoolgirl dates. It’s weird and creepy, for sure, but it also demonstrates the power of virtual experience to be, as Dr. Eldon Tyrell once boasted, "more human than human."
Coca-Cola Co. drinks made from kale -- a nutritious but not very tasty leafy green vegetable -- could soon turn up on store shelves. Coca-Cola West, the Atlanta-based beverage giant's largest bottler in Japan, said this week it will spend $425.6 million to buy Q'Sai Co., a major Japanese health-food producer whose main product is a green juice called "aojiru" made of kale. Q'sai, a Fukuoka-based company that also produces supplements, soap and cream made of collagen, was put up for sale earlier this year by owners Daiwa Corporate Investment. Kale juice made by Coke probably won't go on sale in the U.S. any time soon, but Japan has long served as a source of inspiration and innovation for Coca-Cola in areas such as health drinks, a hot trend here.
Infiniti from the very beginning has had a difficult time establishing a brand identity and finding a way to execute it in communications. Introduced in 1989, Infiniti was Nissan's response to the introductions of the other Japanese luxury marques; Acura and Lexus. The original Q45 was a sporty performance alternative to the Lexus. Unfortunately, the brand got off to a rough start when it introduced the car and brand with the infamous "rocks and trees" campaign created by its agency Hill, Holliday, Connors, Cosmopulos.
Steel Partners, the US hedge fund , suffered another setback in its campaign to reform Japanese companies after Sapporo shareholders rejected its proposal to replace most of the directors. At Sapporo's annual meeting yesterday, Steel Partners failed to shake up the board when only about 30 per cent of voting shareholders supported its proposed move. The activist fund headed by Warren Lichtenstein has been struggling to push reform at the group since 2004, when it first invested in the company. The defeat underscores how difficult it can be to change corporate Japan, where investors often hold stakes in companies for reasons other than direct financial return.
Toyota Motor and Mazda Motor announced a deal under which Japan's top automaker will supply its hybrid technology under license to Mazda, in the latest linkup within the fast-changing auto industry. Japan's No.1 and No.5 carmakers have been discussing the possibility behind the scenes since last spring as the popularity of gasoline-electric cars surged in Japan with the help of generous government subsidies.
A hot new social-networking service dubbed Bubbly, which is essentially a voice-based Twitter, is quickly gaining popularity among Indians. And thanks to Bollywood celebs being early adopters, Bubbly is growing virally and with virtually zero marketing spend.
As Toyota’s problems mounted in North America with the announcement of a halt to sales and manufacturing of the bulk of its cars, commentators in Japan fretted Wednesday that the automaker’s problems could seriously hurt the reputation of the rest of Japan’s manufacturing sector. “Toyota’s reputation for safety is in tatters, and it is inevitable that its image among consumers will suffer,” the Sankei Shimbun daily said.
Three-quarters of Japanese social network users access the sites only from their mobile phones. This observation comes from a survey conducted last year with almost 4,000 social network users in Japan by Mobile Marketing Data Labo. They found that 75.4% of respondents only accessed social networking sites from their mobile phone (and not from their PC). The number only accessing it from their PC (and not their mobile phone) was very low at just 2%.
AMR Corp's American Airlines raised its offer to invest in Japan Airlines Corp. by $300 million to $1.4 billion, according to people familiar with the situation, intensifying American's battle with rival Delta Air Lines Inc. to forge a partnership with the cash-strapped Japanese carrier.
Still struggling after its worst recession in generations, Japan announced a long-term growth strategy Wednesday that seeks to tap into the dynamism of its Asian neighbors, create millions of jobs in new industries and fuel economic expansion of at least 2 percent a year over the next decade.
Building a brand and building a profitable brand are two different things. Take Sony, for example. If you did a survey, you would probably find that Sony is the world’s most admired electronics brand. Way ahead of whoever might be in second place. Terrific for owners of Sony products. But how about the owners of Sony stock? Does the company make any money? The sad fact is no. Net profits after taxes of Sony Corporation are small. Very small.
Panasonic Corp. said Thursday it will take majority control of Sanyo Electric Co. in a $4.6 billion deal that would forge one of the biggest electronics makers in the world. Panasonic said it will buy 50.2 percent of Sanyo for 403.78 billion yen ($4.6 billion) after closing its five-week tender offer that began on Nov. 5. The world's biggest plasma TV maker will pay 131 yen per Sanyo share.
The news of the day in social media land: Twitter is apparently going to start experimenting with paid premium accounts through its Japanese subsidiary, which has always been a bit separated from the rest of Twitter and in many ways a playground for the company (Groups, Twicco, Twitvideo.jp). Details are sketchy at this point, but Japanese media are reporting that Twitter is going to introduce a tiered payment model and aims to charge people to view tweets from certain premium Twitter accounts.
As Web 2.0 and Social Media became globally pervasive, the landscape proved expansive, overwhelming, and bewildering. It required a social cartographer in order to visualize its grandeur. Thus, in August 2008, the original Conversation Prism was born with the help of Jesse Thomas of JESS3. The Conversation Prism continues to rapidly evolve as social networks emerge, merge, and vanish. One thing that we cannot overlook is that the true language of engagement is indeed international. Communities around the world have rallied to adapt the Conversation Prism to the reflect the social networks that thrive within each country. So far, those countries include France, Japan, and China.
At first glance, the Lcafe appears no different than any of the dozens of cozy cafés in Tokyo's Shibuya district, where trend-conscious young people flock to sip coffee and nibble on cakes and sandwiches. But look closely at the froth of the cappuccino or a coaster resting beneath a drink or the artwork hanging on the wall and it reveals the café's side business: pitching new products to affluent and influential young Japanese women.
Japan’s trend-chasing office workers and ladies who lunch are giving up Louis Vuitton handbags and Chanel jackets for Zara dresses and Gap jeans, making what was a favourite market for luxury manufacturers into one of their biggest headaches. The downturn is forcing customers in Japan to scale back purchases of luxury goods, accelerating a long-term shift in consumer attitudes, according to a report by McKinsey, the consultants.
Diet Coke with a hint of green tea--that’s what's on the menu in Japan this summer. The new flavor of Coke Plus, as Diet Coke is known in Japan, hit shelves last month, aimed at health-conscious women in their twenties.
Creativity reports that JWT Japan and Kit Kat have won the Media Grand Prix in Cannes with a product/marketing concept called Kit Kat Mail. JWT was struck by the Japanese translation of Kit Kat—Kitto Katso means “surely win”—and the tradition of sending students good luck wishes before tough higher education entrance exams.
Over the last few years the traditional thinking about innovation has been turned on its head. We used to assume that innovation was driven by access to the most advanced tools and resources. But the emphasis has shifted more recently to the role that scarcity plays in driving innovation. This change has inspired a newfound belief that innovation will emerge from the bottom up, out of developing markets, as opposed to being exported by rich nations like the U.S. and Japan.
As the Far East seems to move closer and closer to the west, and its two billion people open their wallets to brands, it might be valuable to seek some inspiration from oriental culture. At least, from one part of the Far East, which is as culturally diverse as Europe’s thirty-plus countries are, and as varied as the cultures of North America’s states. For western brands that are about to hit any part of Asia, you need a culturally aware Asian brand strategy to avoid a negative response to the culture shock you and your brand might experience. Even if you have no plans to enter Asian markets, there’s lots to learn from comparing culturally derived attitudes which all have lessons for brands and business.
Historically, in a simpler time before the jet age, Japan was geographically isolated, surrounded by treacherous seas and formidable fault lines. Mountains cover three-quarters of Japan. Earthquakes and challenging terrain are constant reminders of nature’s strength and have contributed to the importance Japanese people place on having a dependable, manageable social system. Japanese people value the group over the individual, and the society consequently possesses an enviable system of organization and an ethos that gave rise to innovative brands and services. The branding world has taken notice.
Robotic systems continue to evolve, slowly penetrating many areas of our lives, from manufacturing, medicine and remote exploration to entertainment, security and personal assistance. Developers in Japan are currently building robots to assist the elderly, while NASA develops the next generation of space explorers, and artists are exploring new avenues of entertainment. Collected here are a handful of images of our recent robotic past, and perhaps a glimpse into the near future.