Saturday, December 31, 2011
Wednesday, December 28, 2011
Wednesday, December 21, 2011
Monday, December 19, 2011
Saturday, December 17, 2011
No. 13: Material producers are expanding production capacity hastily to cope with growing demand for lithium-ion battery (December 18, 2011)
Tuesday, December 13, 2011
No. 12: Three factors to increase current profits than planned in the current turbulent times (December 14, 2011)
Wednesday, November 30, 2011
Monday, November 21, 2011
Saturday, November 12, 2011
No. 9: Restructuring of the industry and market provides opportunities of innovation (November 12, 2011)
Saturday, November 5, 2011
No. 8: Staying in Japan to protect the state-of-the-art technology: Zebra and Fanuc (November 2, 2011)
Wednesday, October 19, 2011
Monday, October 10, 2011
Thursday, June 30, 2011
Hitachi once dubbed a “sinking big warship” is increasing the presence in the global market quite rapidly these days. The company renewed its record-high profit in the fiscal year ended March 2011 for the fist time in 20 years. What is the driving force that allows Hitachi to record such an astounding come back? It is unquestionably the strategy that places the highest importance on focusing and the global market.
Since Japan’s national railways was privatized in 1987, Hitachi has been accumulating infrastructure technology for the railway business, such as building aluminum body and digitalization of signals. Equipped with the accumulated state-of-the-arts technology, Hitachi cultivated the foreign markets consistently. The constant efforts started to yield results. Hitachi is expected to obtain an order for a high-speed railway construction project from Great Britain for 600 billion yen. It focuses on the infrastructure business, while keeping away from such fast-moving business as semiconductor and mobile phone. It avoided getting involved in business characterized by fierce price competition and the dog year speed.
Business analysts used to suggested that Hitachi should focus on its strengths, departing from the strategy to produce and market products from home electronics to heavy electric machinery. However, Hitachi knows its strengths very well. Hitachi’s strenuous efforts to develop infrastructure technology are totally based on the motor technology from which Hitachi originated. More than 50 years ago, Hitachi’s billboards declared that Hitachi means motors, and motors mean Hitachi. As always, the base of the development is the key technology of the company.
The world faces serious global environmental issues caused by increasing greenhouse gases emissions. It is imperative especially for advanced countries to reduce greenhouses gases emissions drastically. With the background of the world fear of oil depletion and global warming, the railway business attracts wide attention. The railway business involves lots of industrial fields, and stations are the places where people can find new way of life. It can safely be said that Hitachi’s strategy hit the mark.
Any company has to construct a strategy most suitable for the current business trend because time changes constantly. However, the fact remains that development should be based on company’s key technology and keywords should be focusing and the global market.
Tuesday, May 17, 2011
Business centered by a railway station is growing quite rapidly in Japan. Especially, Japan Railways (JR) exerts lots of energy to activate the station business under the concept that stations are the places not only for passengers but also for shoppers. One of Japan’s leading departments opened a new outlet in Osaka station on May 4. Because the new outlet is directly linked to the platform of Osaka station, it draws 200,000 visitors daily on average. Actually, JR’s energetic efforts to activate the station business are facilitating the restructuring of leading retailers.
Historically, Japanese cities developed with a railway station in the center. In the Osaka area, two private railways are competing with JR, and the three companies naturally try to shorten the travel time between Kobe and Osaka and between Kyoto and Osaka to win the competition. Now the story has changed. What is important now is the ability to draw visitors, whether they are incoming and outgoing passengers or shoppers of department stores. With the growing presence of JR in the trend to expand station facilities and build new outlets, department stores affiliated with a private railway face the necessity of restructuring to keep their customers coming. The same situation is going on across the country.
JR’ station business is growing rapidly with its scale and efficiency. In a sense, it seems that a government enterprise is pressing hard the business of private companies, but change of thought is vital in this case. Shoppers drive out to large shopping malls with the development of motorization, but stations are ready to draw more shoppers with the growing concern about global warming. It is the time for retailers to depart from the strategy to sell almost the same product lineup at almost the same price rage to compete with JR-run retailers and devise a strategy to differentiate themselves. Only retailers successful in differentiation can survive in the days of declining birthrate and a growing population of elderly people, especially in the station-originate business.
Tuesday, May 3, 2011
Land left uncultivated is increasing in Japan with the progress of low birthrate and longevity, but the world is as kind as it is cruel. An increasing number of ex-salaried workers started to venture to produce premium wines. An elite businessman became independent and cultivated the abandoned farmland, and he is now growing about 7,000 vines for premium wines in this 3.2-hectare land. The most expensive wine from his winery is 5,000 yen, but it was sold out in a half year after it was launched this past spring. Another elite businessman started to produce a total of 20,000 bottles of wine and sparkling liquor in a rural area. He also runs a restaurant and an outlet of wines inside the winery, and lets visitors see the fermentation equipment and storage tanks. More than 30,000 people visit his winery and see the production process annually. Wines between 3,000-5,000 yen are popular among them.
Wines are growing popular among people as moderately priced wines become easily available. It is no longer unusual that housewives buy import wines below 500 yen at supermarkets together with foodstuffs. It can be presumed that they usually buy moderately priced domestic wines, and look for premium import wines for special occasions. However, an industry source says that sales of import wines increased 12.5% in bottle in 2010 over the previous year, but indicates that an increasing number of customers prefer import wines priced around 2,000 yen, showing a clear decrease in average customer spend. While sales of less expensive import wines are growing, Japanese domestic wine makers are shifting their focus on premium wines.
Driven by medium-sized wine makers, leading wine makers have been launching high-value added wines lately. Sapporo renovated its winery to start producing domestic premium wines around 3,000 yen coming September. Suntory launched a premium wine made only from domestic grapes was sold on its website for 18,000 yen last December, and it was immediately sold out. It is increasingly visible that preference for premium wines is growing stronger in Japan.
Saturday, April 30, 2011
Taya, one of Japan’s leading hairdressing salon chains, started a unique service. Visit one of its hairdressing salons in Tokyo, and you can find a liquid crystal display monitor at the reception counter. It is a kind of automatic reception machine that you can find at banks and post offices. Put your requirements, such as how you wish to have your hair cut, on the monitor and print out the sheet on which you see your reception number. Read out the QR code on the sheet with your mobile phone and send a blank e-mail, and you can receive an e-mail telling your turn 15-20 minute before you have to take a chair inside the shop to make yourself ready for hairdressing. One of the customers is very happy with this service because she can do shopping instead of waiting in line inside the shop reading magazines, saying that she no longer needs to worry if the shop is crowded. The Shampoo that is the economical hairdressing salon chain managed by Taya offers haircut for 1,900 yen, and customers do not need to make a reservation. Because no reservation is needed, customers often go to another hairdressing salon seeing the long waiting line inside the shop. As the competition among economical hairdressing salons intensifies, the company places expectation in this new service as a strong weapon for business growth.
Thursday, April 28, 2011
Although low birthrate and longevity has been shrinking the alcoholic market, whisky is recording an amazing growth in sales in Japan. Whisky shipments increased on a year-on-year basis in 2009 for the first time in the past 25 years, and they increased 20% over the previous year in 2010. It is highball that stimulates the whisky market. Suntory, Japan’s largest whisky producer, examined the whisky market closely and found that highball is very popular among the youth eating at restaurants well known for excellent cuisines. The company started to hold seminars to teach staffs of restaurants and drinking spots how to make good highball, and printed stickers written in Korean and Chinese.
Whisky and water is traditionally the most popular alcohol drink in drinking spots. However, some drinking spots use tap water to serve whisky and water in pursuit of profit. This problematic practice led to the decreasing whisky shipments. Besides holding seminars, Suntory introduced varieties of ways how to enjoy whisky. Namely, the producer has became the presenter of a wonderful life accompanies by various kinds of whisky transcending the framework of distiller. In the past, who could have thought of the combination of whisky and Chinese cuisines? The company also worked out several marketing gimmicks to attract female whisky fans. For example, it delivers seminars where females can enjoy whisky with varieties of cuisines and fruits.
The growing popularity of whisky epitomized by highball teaches us two lessons. One is the importance of change of thought. Develop new cuisines to make alcohol taste better instead of pursuing alcohol to make foods taster better. The other is the importance of keep changing. As Darwin taught us, it is not the strongest species but specifies most competent to adapt to the environment that finally survives.