Entry Japan can assist market entry in Japan in several ways. These include providing:
Japan, with the world's second-largest economy and one of world's highest per-capita incomes, is an extremely attractive market. Yet, many businesspeople are daunted by what they fear to be an overly complex, bureaucratic and unfriendly marketplace. While many of these perceptions have some truth, our experience is that Japan's market obstacles are eminently surmountable. The best predictor of success in the Japanese market is the quality of the firm's business model in its home country. Ultimately, success in Japan depends on the same market virtues that have enabled the firm to succeed in its home market.
Many of our clients have come to Entry Japan having heard stories of an unwritten code by Japanese firms to block out new competitors or of a government that manipulates regulations to encourage exports at the expense of imports. These fears are unfounded, and there is no better proof than the increasing market share of imports in Japan.
What is true is that Japanese is a difficult language for foreigners to learn, that Japan has unique customs and that it has inefficient and complicated distribution systems. Both time and effort are required to master these elements of Japan's market, but they are minor costs compared to the potential wealth of the market.
One of the best examples of success in the Japan market belongs to an old-line American firm, The Stanley Works of New Britain, Connecticut. Stanley subsidiary Mac Tools sells tools through individual franchisees who handle orders and delivery directly to customers aboard their delivery trucks. There are many reasons why this business was not expected to succeed in Japan. Prices were several times higher than those of domestic manufacturers, traveling salesmen had a negative image in Japan, and employers already provided inexpensive tools to mechanics. Despite a rocky start, including the bankruptcy of the original master distributor, Mac Tools survived (under the co-leadership of Entry Japan K.K.'s current president) and grew to become a significant profit center for Stanley Tools.
Mac Tools thrived because it followed the old adage that "you have to know the rules before you can break them." The keys to the company's success were its unique ability to bypass Japan's complicated and multi-tiered distribution system, its ability to establish a brand image, and its success in offering a premium product to a market that was hungry for it. Finally, Mac Tools' application of American business management practices enabled it to out-compete its Japanese competitors.
Overseas and U.S. medical devices have been among the most successful categories of imports into Japan. Imports of foreign medical devices exceed Japanese exports by 2.3 times. They now constitute between 5 and 10 percent of the Japan medical products market.
Though Japan's import license approval process is laborious and its traditional distribution system is labyrinthine, both are surmountable. The effort is more than justified by the value of the market and its high margins. Japan's aging population means that there is rapid growth in an already large market. Quality is an extremely strong selling point. As Mac Tools proved, it is the quality of products and services, not the country of origin, that matters most to Japanese consumers. The bottom line is that those firms choosing to invest the time and effort to enter the Japanese market can reap rewards far in excess of the costs of entry.
Entry Japan is based in Japan, but our contacts and expertise extend to all of Japan's Asian trading partners. We can be your company's bridge to all of Asia and Oceania, a market exceeding 2 billion people. We also provide services to Asian companies developing businesses in new overseas markets.