Friday, March 31, 2006


AU promoting its mobile phones with integrated SUICA Cards (IC rail passes) at Shinjuku station. Booths like this - both by AU and NTT DoCoMo - have appeared at all major Tokyo train stations in the last weeks.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Oxygen water

This spring, oxygen-enriched water is everywhere.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Low-price vs. premium

With many consumer goods in Japan, the market is increasingly split in premium and low-price products, with products or brands from the middle segment having an increasingly hard time. The beer market is an excellent example - with the introduction of the low-malt (and low-cost) beer alternative happoshu Japanese breweries have created a competitor cannibalizing into their main beer brands. After several tax increases on happoshu, manufacturers have reacted by developing even cheaper alternatives with the so-called third beers - which are now eating into their happoshu sales.

Kirin is trying to stop this trend and has released Enjuku, a premium happoshu with a design reminiscent of premium beer brand Ebisu. At the same time, Kirin is adding its own premium beer brands such as a beer containing select hops

Suntory has released World Select Beer, a beer containing select ingredients from all over the world (such as hops from Germany), but with the reassuring label "made in Japan".

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

High Class

While newspapers are full of articles pointing out a rising income disparity and the emergence of a karyu shakai ("downward mobile society") with large numbers of people living on low incomes, consumers who do not fall in this category (i.e. at least have a fulltime job) are no longer satisfied with being average and middle-class, but want to feel they belong to the upper class. Above three subway adverts from recent weeks, which illustrate this trend nicely.

Monday, March 20, 2006


Spring has finally arrived, and with spring wind and rising temperatures the yearly pollen attack begins. For many companies, this presents a huge business opportunity, so hayfever sufferers have a vast array of weapons to choose from, ranging from face masks and special drinks to the product above, which is sprayed on a hankerchief and inhaled, and promises immediate relief for running noses.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Kitkat "French Bretagne Milk"

Nestle Japan again shows it is up to date with current market trends and has released a new Kitkat flavor with French Bretagne Milk, covering both the "back to basics" and "high quality/exclusive ingredients" trends.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Lawson goes discount

Lawson seems to be very successful with its Store 100, basically a crossover between convenience stores and 100 Yen shops with a bit of supermarket thrown in. Imagine snacks, drinks, sweets and even fresh produce such as meat and vegetables as well as basic household items - all at 100 Yen!

Monday, March 06, 2006

Mc Donalds Japan goes premium

Premium products are currently all the rage in Japan. Mc Donalds is no exception, and seems to be quite successful with the Ebi Fillet-O, a fried prawn sandwich with a relatively high price tag of 270 Yen. It was introduced in autumn 2005 and is reportedly a success especially with younger women, while the model used in the campaign is a hit with the younger male demographic.

For McDonalds, this seems to mark a turn away from the discount strategy of the“100 Yen Campaign” where a whole menu of items was offered for the price of 100 Yen each, and a new focus on premium products with a higher value-added.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

AU mall

AU has opened an online shopping mall accessible only through the company's handsets with au mall.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

New handsets

A few weeks ago AU has released the latest handset in its AU Design Project with the NEON, and customers are putting down their names on waiting lists at the stores to get one).

NTT DoCoMo's answer seems to be the F702i, a handset shaped to be organic, elegant and glamorous.

Vodafone has set its hopes on the new 904SH by Sharp. The handset, which is set for release in April, contains a free chat- and multiplayer game function via Bluetooth and other killer applications such as face recognition technology and a feature that identifies planet constellations when the phone is pointed at the night sky. Looking at this feature list, it seems almost as if Vodafone has given up in trying to be a major player in Japan and has switched to marketing to niche consumers instead.