Thursday, October 24, 2013

Stories I Wish I Were Writing

Companies I wish I had time to look into and write about, given how they seem to be making interesting statements about Japan's retail markets:

ErgoBaby - How could a 10 year old company, headquartered in the famed entrepreneurial hub of Kapalani, Maui, take over Japan's market for a consumer product, wiping out all domestic competition* using only Internet sales and word-of-mouth marketing, without U.S. trade lobby help or anyone noticing?

Kaldi - Japan's biggest coffee roaster and import foods retailer, whose dark-wood interior stores are designed to mimic the packed stalls of Mideast and Southeast Asian markets, seems to have only women employees. There must be men who work for the company -- according to the website (which features as many typos as your typical first run Shisaku post) the company president is a man -- but has anyone ever seen one?


* I recently conducted an informal survey at a local festival. In the course of 45 minutes I saw 21 babies in carriers. One was in a BabyBjorn, three in no-name knock-offs. The other 17 were in Ergobaby carriers. What was surprising was not the small number of competing carriers but that I counted any competitors at all -- Ergobaby's market dominance is usually total.


Ἀντισθένης said...

I never noticed that at Kaldi. Now I always will. Should I boycott them for excluding my gender, or should I boycott them for giving the menial and low-paying jobs to women, and presumably the better paying ones to men in the office, or should I ignore the whole issue since there are few other places to get non-Japanese foods without getting shafted?

Balefire said...

I hadn't noticed that about Kaldi/Coffee Farm, but after searching my memory of the several Tokyo area shops I've visited, I believe that you're right. When the typhoon passes, I shall have to check the recently opened one here in the wilds of the Saitama/Gunma border country, too.

Thanks for pointing it out.

panÓptiko said...

As an Ergobaby user, I would say that it is the strength of Japanese mothers' word-of-mouth information sharing what needs to be deeply researched. I remember reading research on the Chufuren in the seventies and eighties, but have not looked for recent examples on more informal networks. Please share if you find something.


MTC said...

panÓptiko -

My interest in the company was piqued by a story I saw about the fight in Setagaya City for more public day care. The photo accompanying the story showed five mothers with infants having a heated discussion with the mayor about the child care situation in the city. All five infants were in Ergobaby carriers.

Mercer said...

The same also applies to Stokke - which has a lot of potential danger from what I can see.

Don't even mention Anpanman. His omnipotence goes beyond anything.