Saturday, March 31, 2012

No. 20: Savings, association, and health come to the fore because of yen’s depreciation (April 1, 2012)

Market trend
Japanese yen recovered the level of 80 yen per U.S. dollar in mid-February, and the closing value of the Nikkei Stock Average also recovered the level of 10,000 yen in mid-March. However, the low yen means higher gasoline price. The price of regular gasoline stood at 157.6 yen per liter today, recording the highest price in the past three and a half year. An increasing number of drivers buy gasoline for a fixed value instead of filling up the tank. Another changes in consumer behavior are foreseen.

The unstable political world still makes consumers worry about the economic prospect, and it will supposedly take time to improve the thrifty attitudes of Japanese consumers. But sales of ecology-related products and products to support the recovery of the disaster-stricken areas will go up steadily. LED light fittings and renewable energy systems like residential solar panels will maintain the sales with the background of growing awareness of energy saving.

The March 11 disaster of last year made the association between Japanese even stronger. Many thanks, Facebook! The efforts of devastated prefectures to market their commercial and agricultural products of local specialty will continue to stimulate domestic consumption. On the rebound of satiation, the health conscious trend will grow stronger as shown by the rampant TV commercials of health-care equipment and growing sales of fermented foods. As is often the case, the pendulum swings from side to side.   

An increasing number of convenience stores employ LED lighting for in-store illuminations.

The solar panel market for housing is growing fast with the background of the energy-saving attitudes among consumers. 

Monday, March 19, 2012

No. 19: A new idea on how to make the best use of a railway station (March 19, 2012)

Business trend
JR (Japan Railways) East will launch a new project to support farmers along its railway lines coming April. It will open a direct sales store in a station on its lines in the metropolitan area alternately through the year to sell the signature agricultural products and traditional artifacts of each rural area. Besides helping the direct sales stores achieve good results, the company will give advice to local farmers on what products are selling fast in the metropolitan area for joint development of specialty products in each rural area, and will take care of transport and delivery of products sold.

To be more specific, JR East’s employees who majored in agriculture in college will be the consultants for local farmers. They will give information on fast-selling vegetables and fruits and how to market them more efficiently and effectively in the metropolitan area. The company previously operated this kind of direct sales store irregularly, but it decided to open it on a regular basis to make up for the loss caused by decreasing number of passengers. The company gets a certain rate of profit margin on sales.

Peter Drucker said, “Business is to create and keep a customer.” Likewise, the great Ichizo Kobayashi, founder of Hankyu Railway, said, “If you are in short supply of customers, why don’t you create new customers?” It is not too much to say that the great lesson Kobayashi left to Japanese enabled the Japanese railway business to make such a remarkable progress.

An antenna shop selling local specialties in a railway station in the Tokyo metropolitan area. Railway companies are collaborating with local governments to collect funds for faster recovery of the devastated areas.