U.S. Cataloger Marketing in Japan-Far From Over (891 words)
While its market and customer base are significantly smaller in Japan than in Germany and the United Kingdom, Peruvian Connection finds it "financially beneficial to continue mailing in Japan," says the company's COO, John Vesbach.
Indeed, the tide appears to have turned, and the land of the rising sun is showing signs of emerging from its economic recession. Last July, children's apparel cataloger Hanna Andersson, which has been operating in the region for more than 10 years, registered its first sales increase in Japan since 1997.
Predicts Barnett: "With a new prime minister, and the stock market recovering since April, we at Prestige believe Japanese consumers will regain confidence in Japan's future, which is very important for consumer spending."
Another sign that U.S. catalogers have not given up on Japan is the launch of several Japanese-language e-commerce sites in the past few years. These sites largely are set-up by catalogers already operating in Japan and that have integrated an e-commerce site with a print catalog. This allows them to leverage existing in-country customer service and fulfillment centers. In fact, Lands' End, which maintains customer service and distribution centers to support its Japanese-language print catalog, chose Japan as its starting point for its Web expansion initiative.
Business-to-business cataloger Viking Office Products also launched a Japanese e-commerce site, which is fully integrated with its Japanese-language print catalog. As it does with all of its international operations, the cataloger sells local products in the local language and sets prices in the local currency. It also has its own in-country operation that handles all Japanese orders from soup to nuts.
The Asian economic recession of the late 1990s that hurt many U.S. catalogers operating in the Pacific Rim was fortuitous for REI, an international merchant of outdoor gear and clothing. Since the launch of its Japanese-language print catalog more than a decade ago, the cataloger has added an e-commerce site and a retail operation. A drop in land prices enabled the company to set up its first retail operation, located on the outskirts of Tokyo.