Saturday, April 30, 2011

No. 2: Do shopping instead of waiting in line inside the shop (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

No. 1: Secret of the growing popularity of whisky (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.