Business in Japan: A guide to Japanese business practice and by Paul Norbury

By Paul Norbury

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By Paul Norbury

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As a result, Estee Lauder now boasts approximately 45-50 per cent of the total men's cosmetics business in department stores throughout Japan. Taking a somewhat different route, Nihon Philips and Melitta both introduced coffee-makers into theJapanese market using coffee bean wholesalers and retailers rather than appliance channels that are largely controlled by Japanese makers. Practically speaking, the competition has been limited between the two European manufacturers. Although some Japanese appliance-makers have since introduced electric coffee-makers, neither retailers nor the consumers have so far taken them very seriously.

In general, the difficulties are of a much more subtle kind and derive directly from the foreign company's approach to the market. Assuming that foreign companies have special products and services that are superior in quality or price, they will succeed in the JAPAN'S FREE MARKET STRUCTURE 33 long run only if they make a serious effort to market their products in Japan. 1fthis seems an excessively obvious statement, it should be noted that many agents of foreign companies and their branch offices inJapan are wholly frustrated simply because the horne office refuses to take basic differences in the Japanese market seriously.

In Europe, for example, customers take for granted that about 3 per cent of all products will be slightly defective, and these will simply be serviced. ' After-sales service is broader and more personal in Japan than in most countries: since such service tends to be costly, Japanese manufacturers find it cheaper to assure high quality standards to avoid after-sales service as much as possible. Still, even after a foreign firm makes the necessary product adaptations and meets the high quality standards of Japanese consumers, there is a variety of problems that must be squarely faced.

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