U.S. Cataloger Marketing in Japan-Far From Over (891 words)
U.S. Catalogers marketing in Japan May have been deflated by recession, but they are not defeated.
In the mid-1990s, direct marketers sought riches in Japan much like the miners of the California gold rush. The yen reached an all-time high against the U.S. dollar in 1995, and Japanese consumers indulged their appetite for American goods. With an exchange rate of approximately 85 yen to $1, it was incredibly inexpensive for Japanese consumers to buy merchandise from U.S. catalogers who, in turn, were selling American products in Japan hand over fist.
The U.S. mail-order frenzy also was perpetuated by the Japanese media, which began publishing guides on how to buy from U.S. catalogs, explains Sharon Barnett of Prestige International, a global customer relationship management solutions provider that works with several U.S. catalogers marketing in Japan. Consequently, many Japanese consumers requested catalogs, receiving the U.S. domestic version and incurring international shipping charges. U.S. catalogers saw their customer service costs skyrocket as Japanese consumers required greater assistance with the ordering process. As such, many catalogers began to adapt their catalogs for a Japanese audience, starting with the order form and instructions.
Then the Thai baht bottomed out in 1997, and with it went the economic stability of the Pacific Rim. Japan, once the crown jewel of the Pacific Rim, quickly became global direct marketing's orphan. Many direct marketers pulled out of the region completely. Others chose to mail more carefully and selectively within the region, or scaled back and only mailed to their existing customers.
Peruvian Connection is one example of a cataloger that has kept its finger on the pulse of the Japanese market since it entered that region in the 1990s. It currently mails Japanese customers its domestic catalog, with an order form translated into Japanese. Orders come into its U.S. headquarters where they are filled and individually shipped to customers in Japan.