Thursday, 31 December 2009
Tuesday, 29 December 2009
And what did I learn from the project? When I showed the advertisements to Western friends, they assumed I had been teaching junior high school students. "But it`s all so childish" they noted. True. What it is, is amaterish and cute. Now this is partly because the students, like most Japanese students, have very little experience using computers. On mobile phones they can do anything but many students don`t even own a computer. Essays are hand-written, at least in the first year at university. The other reason is that slick and sophisticated is a Western concept, and one that many Japanese do not like or trust, at least until they spend some time abroad anc can learn to understand it. (And you can tell when that happens because their fashion sense changes.) `Cute` is the No. 1 brand in Japan. Think Hello Kitty. It`s fun, it`s not threatening, it`s nostalgic, like memories of your childhood. The idea of `growing up` in Japan is not a popular one.
I also learned that going out for coffee or tea and cake is a women-only pastime. Food is gendered and our survey results showed that no matter the price bracket no Japanese man is going to waste his money on a cake. For 500 yen he wants a whole meal. Japanese men choose their food by mass. A large cheap meal keeps you fuller for longer. That is their dining criteria.
Congratulations to all my seminar students. Next year, it`s thesis writing!
Last semester my seminar students carried out a small-scale marketing project. I divided the seminar into 4 groups and gave each group a typical British biscuit or cake to market in Japan. The 4 items were shortbread, gingerbread, arctic roll and cupcakes. Each group created advertising for their product and `launched` it with a PowerPoint presentation. Through this project the students learned the following points. That any product and the marketing of any product must be adapted to the country and the customer. That the Japanese consumer is extremely particular about what they will buy and how they view themselves through their purchases.
The shortbread group chose to design a cafe specializing in shortbread, named Cafe Shovre (short for shortbread in Japanese). It sounds European and therefore fashionable. The cafe is situated in an upmarket area of Tokyo and is aimed at wealthy people, particularly housewives with free time to meet their friends. There is a terrace for dogs. (Dogs are an indicator of status in Japan. The most popular dogs are extremely expensive and of course need space to live, an expensive commodity in central Tokyo.) They therefore marketed shortbread as an international, aspirational biscuit.
The gingerbread group tapped into the trend for wholesome, colour and additive-free foods. Their Ginger Ranger range could also be fun. Customers could ice their biscuits themselves. This range was aimed firmly at mothers and children. Although the poster shows gingerbread people, the group did not feel that this shape would be as popular as, for instance, gingerbread houses. They said most Japanese would feel like cannibals biting the leg off a Ginger Ranger.
The artic roll group initially floundered as this cake has never been produced in Japan. However their survey of students and friends showed that many Japanese wanted to try it, especially as a summer treat. Their survey also showed that most Japanese would want to try green tea and black sugar flavour, as you can see above. It may look like mould to most Westerners but green foods in Japan look delicious and healthy. The artic roll would be sold in convenience stores and was marketed as a family dessert.
And the cupcake group? More on them tomorrow.
Saturday, 26 December 2009
There were so many drunk people weaving along the streets last night you would have thought we are on a ship on the high seas. The Japanese, not traditionally being milk drinkers, lack an enzyme needed to process alcohol. They can get paralytic simply by uncorking a bottle. Still, it`s Christmas ...
From the Youtube `drunk Japanese salaryman` collection ...
Let`s spending festive season joyfully! After four weeks of emergency dental work, Santa brought me a newly moulded filling on Crimbo Day, just in time to eat my turkey dinner without having to puree it in the blender first. (The 25th December is a regular working day here and my dental appointment was fixed for 9.15am so the filling could have time to settle before dinner time.) Here are a few pictures of `Lightopia` from the Tokyo/Hibiya area and one from the 20th floor of the Foreign Correspondents` Club where I went with chums for our turkey dinner. Happy Hols!