Tag Archives: B2C

Retail News: GAP to close all 53 Old Navy stores in Japan!!

GAP (Picture - MSN and BFM News)

GAP (Picture – MSN and BFM News)


“Gap Inc., under pressure to turn around operations amid a prolonged sales slump, said it plans to close all its Old Navy stores in Japan and some Banana Republics mostly outside of North America by the end of its business year.” (Wall Street Journal)

“Gap Inc said Thursday that it is shuttering 75 Old Navy and Banana Republic stores outside North America as the struggling company looks to focus on regions where it sees it has the greatest potential for success. The closures include all 53 Old Navy stores in Japan. The closures represent just a fraction of the over 3,700 stores it operates globally. Gap has long been struggling, unable to get shoppers to buy its clothes without offering big discounts(Japan Today)

“Ces dernières semaines, les entreprises du secteur du prêt-à-porter ont annoncé des résultats tous plus mauvais les uns que les autres, qui ont fait lourdement chuter leurs titres en Bourse. Elles pâtissent de la concurrence des vendeurs en ligne dont les politiques commerciales sont plébiscitées par les consommateurs. Gap, fondé il y a 47 ans, doit aussi affronter les fers de lance de la “fast retail” que sont H&M, Zara et Uniqlo qui renouvellent fréquemment leurs collections afin de coller aux goûts d’un public adolescent porté sur les achats sur l’internet.”  (BFM Business/MSN)


GAP has been operating in Japan for a while. It is probably good news for rivals like UNIQLO, Zara, H&M and others. So, will it make a difference in the very dynamic Japanese Apparel/Retail landscape or is it going to be “business as usual” for the Japanese consumers? What do you think?


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Retail in Japan : “specialty stores” vs general supermarkets?

Retail in Japan

Retail in Japan

“Japanese retail giant Seven & I Holdings Co., Ltd. said Friday its Ito-Yokado Co. supermarket chain will shut down 40 unprofitable stores, or about 20 percent of its stores, over the next few years.

It is expected to close several stores within its current business year ending in February 2016.

The plan comes after the operating profit for the retail group’s supermarket division in the year to last February plunged 34.8 percent from a year earlier amid a consumer tendency to prefer specialty stores such as the Uniqlo casual clothing chain over general supermarkets.” (The Japan Times)

Today’s Japanese consumers seem to prefer “specialty stores” over general supermarkets. This is one of the changes to the traditional Japanese Consumer Mindset. Which one do you prefer and why?

Read more from:

  1. Retail in Japan : “specialty stores” vs general supermarkets?
  2. one of our previous posts: The Japanese Consumer Mindset



Success Story: how IKEA adapts to the Japanese Home Furniture Market

Japanese Kotatsu (Wikipedia)

Japanese Kotatsu (Wikipedia)


“IKEA celebrates a decade in Japan next year with various special events and promotions. Since opening its first store in Chiba in 2006, the iconic Swedish home–furnishings provider has expanded to eight locations across the country.

IKEA is transforming into a multi-channel retailer

Our customers today are changing; and people are much more digital, as well as physical, in the way that they shop. They want to shop when they want and how they want. IKEA needs to change with that. So we are doing that. We are very much looking at how can we then be available; when somebody wants a sofa or a phone, they then start their shopping experience. It doesn’t literally mean going to visit a physical store.

The physical store will always be our competitive advantage. A 40,000-square-metre store, being a fun day out with a food offer and a store to wander around in — with furniture and accessories, and areas for the kids to play — will always attract people. But we want to be more than that. So we will have a new web platform — and e-commerce that we will introduce — to make it so you can shop once you see things on the web as well. And we need to become closer to our customers, so we’re going to try new formats — even smaller IKEA locations — to order [products], have them delivered and picked up closer to the customers.”  (EUROBIZ  Japan)

In order to succeed in Japan’s Retail, you have got to adapt, localise and develop your offer. Multi-channel strategies and new formats are often advisable. This is a good example.  What do you think?


Read more fromIKEA and the Japanese Home Furniture Market


Japan: Does “Kokusaika” mean two types of “Omotenashi”?

"Kokusaika" OR 2 types of "Omotenashi"

“Kokusaika” OR 2 types of “Omotenashi”


Japan firms face hurdles as ‘service’ culture taken overseas:

” ….  At Uniqlo stores worldwide, staff greet every customer with “Welcome to Uniqlo!”

They briskly walk around on a clean, white sales floor, refolding and restacking clothes, rarely talking to customers or each other unless approached.

It’s a Japanese style of customer service based on a strict manual and which is praised for its politeness and efficiency. But as Japanese companies increasingly branch out overseas, they are faced with the dilemma of staying true to this retail philosophy while adapting to local service habits.

JETRO’s Nakajima said there are two types of omotenashi, or Japanese hospitality, seen in outgoing Japanese businesses.

One is to treat every single customer with thorough care, as seen in traditional Japanese ryokan hotels. The other is to provide quality homogeneous service in a quick and inexpensive way …..” (The Japan Times)

Our Point:

In their Internationalisation Process (or “Kokusaika” in Japanese),  Japanese companies should probably think more of adapting the Japan Domestic “Omotenashi” (hopitality) practices abroad by taking into account the local culture specificities, rather than replicating it as it is. One feature to definitely carry over would be excellent dedicated service and full attention to the customer at any time, before/during and after the sales process. What do you think?

More to read from:

Does “Kokusaika” mean two types of “Omotenashi”?

By the way, WELCOME TO GBMC’s BLOG !!!!

The Japanese Consumer Mindset

GBMC - B2C Marketing in Japan

GBMC – B2C Marketing in Japan

First of all, you must understand the traditional “Japanese Consumer Mindset”!

Anyone shopping or retailing in Japan will quickly spot Japanese specificities (compared to Western standards) impacting the Japanese consumer behaviour, lifestyle, purchasing habits, preferences of merchandise, design taste, response to marketing campaigns and service expectations.

Some of these differences originate in the Japanese culture and society:

  1. Japan is a country with strong cultural context: the Japanese retain a wealth of information on people and maintain, through an extensive network of friends, colleagues, customers, suppliers, close personal relationships. “Relational maintenance” includes the purchase of gifts.
  2. The ideal communication is indirect (subtle hint), non-verbal (if not, suspicion) and emotional (often used in commercials). A present might sometimes tell more than words.
  3. Key concepts in traditional Japanese culture might influence the extent of the “Relational maintenance”: 1) collectivism & group spirit; 2) a strong hierarchy, often based on seniority, synonymous with experience and wisdom; 3) a strong division of gender roles: although the situation changes; 4) a monochronic culture, where individuals generally do one thing at a time.
  4. Population in Japan is aging much faster than in most other developed countries, due to one of the longest life expectancy and one of the lowest birth rate. Consequences for retailers are a clear switch to the “silver market”.
  5. The “bubble crisis” of the nineties and the following “lost decade” have impacted the way younger generations consume. Another consequence of the crisis is a wider gap between regular workers and non-regular workers (bi-polarized society), source of differences in spending power.
  6. The Life cycle is another important factor to consider:
      • Two positive phases in consuming are the [22, 26/29 years old] segment (from graduation till wedding) and the [50, 60 years old] segment (kids have graduated , 2 incomes are available)
      • Two negative phases in consuming are the [29, 50 years old] segment (single income and raising kids) and the retirement segment.

All those specificities draw a specific Japanese mindset and impose specific service and marketing implications for any company willing to retail in Japan.


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Guidelines for B2C Marketing in Japan

B2C Marketing in Japan

B2C Marketing in Japan

Article published by the EU-Japan Centre for Industrial Cooperation:
1) in EU-JAPAN NEWS, in the March 2014 edition of the Centre’s Newsletter.
Article to be found page 13 of the Newsletter:

2) permanently online, on the “EU Business in Japan” website:



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