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  • Subject area(s): Marketing
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  • Published on: 14th September 2019
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Introduction:

  Starting a clothing brand in Japan focusing on the street wear market, it is competitive but if done correctly could lead to success. When beginning a business, it's difficult understanding how to create a business plan, especially being in a different country. We first need to analyze and understand the culture as a whole to get a perspective on how they run a successful business. The main aspects in which we take in account are Politics, Economics, Social Issues, and Technology. 

  The clothing brand will specialize in Men's and Women's street wear style. The top clothing brands already in the market are Bathing Ape, Comme des Garcons, WTAPS, Cav Empt, Fragment Design and many more. Japan is the center of streetwear fashion with worldwide recognition of producing highly quality garments and home to multiple fashion designers. With our new clothing brand hitting the market it would create a new lifestyle in which Japan can appreciate in already a rich fashion market. 

Politics: 

  The Japanese political system is different from the United States with the political structure. In the United States we have a president and military power but in Japan they have an emperor who encourages unity and peace within the citizens. The Japanese political hierarchy is as follows, the Emperor, the Legislative Branch, The Judicial Branch the Executive Branch, which are similar to the United States. 

The Emperor chooses the Prime Minister within the cabinet. The National Diet is home for the House of Representatives and the House of Councilors. The members of the cabinet are the Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Minister, and the chief cabinet secretary. 

Economics: 

 The economics of the country in which we are selling products is extremely important. This is where we take in consideration the current and projected inflation and interest rates. Depending on the current state on the market determines if sales would be up. The economy of Japan is the third largest in the world and the fourth largest by purchasing power. In Japan establishing a business provides lots of freedom but structural problems discourage entrepreneurial growth. Japan is one of the countries in the world who has a large public debt and prevents dynamic growth.

Compared to the United States marketplace Japan's gross national income is ranked second with United States being number one. United States exports $1.56 trillion which is twice as more than Japan. The economic factors consist on the cost of living, taxes, and globalization. According to Nation Master, 16% of the population is below the poverty line ranking 32nd while United States is Ranked 34th with 15.1%. Japan is ranked 4th in GDP at $5.96 trillion and United States is three times more than Japan ranking 2nd at $15.68 trillion.

Social Aspects:

 Japan has a culture in which they respect everyone and are extremely polite. At a business environment men and women bow to each other as a sign of respect. When being invited into someone's household, you should take off your shoes showing respect as a guest to their house. They also bring an “omiyage” known as a small gift usually fruit or a small cake to the family. 

When taking a seat to enjoy dinner as guest it is a sign of respect to say “itadakimasu” which means let's eat, and when you finish “gochisosama deshita” which means it was a good luxurious meal or feast. The Japanese culture are communitarianism which means they treat each other like family and support one another. 

Technology: 

 When it comes to technology Japan is at the top with new innovation and the United States following as number two in the world. They are known for the invention of the first fully functional talking, breathing and human like robot. Back in 1970 Japan introduced the pocket calculator now used worldwide also the invention of batteries using lithium-ion by Akira Yoshino. 

Japan is also responsible for creating the fastest and worlds first bullet train, in which connected the two largest cities of Japan being Tokyo and Osaka. The original journey from one city to the other lasted over six hours which was reduced by three hours in 1964. They plan on creating a train service for 2027 in which only take one hour. Japan is also known for the top car manufactures known as Toyota, Nissan, Honda, Subaru, Mitsubishi and more. 

Japanese Background:

  Japan is located in eastern Asia it is an island chain in the North Pacific Ocean next to the Sea of Japan. The currency in which Japan uses is known as the Japanese Yen, which has a different exchange rate from the American Dollar. Taking in account the different currency is important when calculating net profits and losses compared to the American dollar. A huge hit on the Japanese economy was in 2011 with a large earthquake leading into a tsunami destroyed various nuclear power plants. The Prime Minister known as Shinzo Abe has developed a new economic reform to recover the losses from the natural disaster.

  When starting up business in a new country one the barriers in which is difficult happens to be the language. The language in Japan is the six most spoken language in the world named Nihongo in which the majority of the citizens speak it. Being from America accustomed to speaking English learning a new language will be difficult. Understanding the Japanese religion and different belief system is important to acknowledge. When designing clothes their might be certain designs or colors in which might conflict with the society. Shinto and Buddhism are the main two religions in which the Japanese practice. 

  Taking in account the major holiday's in Japan are key making sure we don't open business or create designs geared toward the celebrations. Embracing the culture with celebrating the holidays is important to become apart the new culture while having a smooth transition into the Japanese belief system. The Greenery Days is a holiday known as the Golden Week which celebrates three national holidays' and most business are closed for an entire week as observance. 

Japanese Culture:

Japan has a very unique culture belief system with different views and norms compared to other countries. According to Richard Lewis, “The mandatory, two-minute exchange of business cards between executives meeting each other for the first time is one of the clearest examples of a time activity segment being used to mark the beginning of a relationship.” This is a polite way of being generous within each other in a business environment. The use of time for the Japanese is extremely important as they view time as money and are respectful. The Japanese believe in personal space as they want to be arm's length apart from other individuals. 

In terms of the business environment within the Japanese culture it maintains a traditional outlook mixed with the cultural heritage. Even though Japan encountered multiple economic downfalls from the 1990s and 2011, it is still striving as one of the top countries in international business. The Japanese daily business culture is different from the United States, from the use of time, norms and rituals. In the morning the employees bow to their boss every morning as a sign of respect. 

The use of business cards is extremely important as it is a sign of introduction and has to only be in Japanese. They are handed out in the business environment constantly so it is important in investing on quality prints as it shows what type of person you are when it comes to business. They are handed to one another with two hands and with a bow, signifying respect within each other. 

When holding or attending a meeting they are required and made in weeks advance to fit everyone's schedule. Arriving in time to a business meeting is extremely important as all the Japanese works will attend as well. Japan tends to be communitarian which means they are always in groups, even though two people will hold a meeting usually it tends to be a group. When you first meet business partners they tend to hold multiple meeting before they become comfortable in making business with you. The Japanese culture always looks forward on creating a long term relationship, which means if they request something it isn't best to reject them by any means. It is a sign of respect by giving a small gift at the end of the meeting to the senior person. 

Presentations and negotiating are important in the business environment and knowing how to deal with it in a new culture shows how respectful one is. When negotiating in Japan most people tend to deal with situations in a calm way without ever getting too aggressive and malicious. Most of the time the Japanese don't like to respond with no as an answer, so it is important to observe your wording when communicating. They tend to listen very closely sometimes even closing their eyes and stay quiet when you're talking as they their time to respond. If you do not agree with someone it is never okay to raise your voice or become frustrated. When developing a contract, it is important to understand that they can be negotiated at any point of time once signed. 

When it comes done to management Japan goes through the hierarchical structure in the corporate culture. Everyone in a specific form knows exactly what their role is within the company. In a typical firm managers are expectedto train and help any employee who needs help on developing skills to keep the firm succeeding. 

The communication between a manager and employee is though high context. High context cultures tend to not communicate with words as they are silent. According to Ferraro, “A high-context (HC) communication or message is one in which most of the information is either in the physical context or internalized in the person, while very little is in the coded, explicit, transmitted part of the message. A low-context (LC) communication is just the opposite; i.e., the mass of information is vested in the explicit code (language).” (FERRARO & BRIODY, 2002 apud HALL, 1976). They tend to use nonverbal gestures, facial expressions and switch the tone of their voice when communicating. This style of culture is the complete opposite of the United States being low context. A low context culture tends to be individualistic and are fine with short-term relationships. 

The United States are usually direct in their communication when in Japan that is considered being rude towards others. Direct eye contact in the Japanese culture usually makes others uncomfortable while Americans look at eye contact as a sign of respect. Two completely different cultures collide when you are going to start a new business, so it is important to embrace the new norms and beliefs. Communication is the most important value in business because this is the way you can connect with a customer or business partner. Being able to communicate effectively differentiates a successful person between someone who isn't confident. 

Role: 

 My specific role within the clothing brand opening in Japan is being the analyst, in which keeps track of financial metrics, sales, and trends within the fashion market. When taking this role, it is very important to keep the culture on mind as it is a whole different culture. Being able to create a business plan that fits the governmental politics and culture views are difficult when not being from the country. 

  Japan is the center of street wear fashion according to Hiroko Tabuchi from New York Times, “For much of this decade, fashion trends have started in Japan and gone global. But Japanese brands don't even realize that,” said LoicBizel, a French-born fashion consultant based in Tokyo. Japan “generates trends and ideas, but it stops there,” he said. “Many brands are not even interested in going overseas.” The best and most recognized brands all started in Japan which is great since many collaborations could be made to spread the new brand into the market creating the segmentation. 

  The street wear movement in Japan has been around since the 1990s but now as of late has grown an audience from global markets. Specializing in Men's and Women's fashion would be sold only through exclusive and select styles. The main wardrobe would consist on cut n sew piece, t-shirt, jeans, outwear and hats which are casual. A top competitor in the market known global is Bathing Ape also known as BAPE created by Nigo in 1994. They have unique prints and styles which creates a signature and staple for Japan. Creating pieces that remind you of a culture is something out brand will look to prove. The price ranges are expensive with a basic screen print t-shirt with a logo retailing for seventy dollars USD. The prices are high because most pieces are not imported. The majority of established street wear brands create designs and manufacture in Japan. When a clothing brand makes their clothing in the country they are from it adds a sense of culture and pride when a customer purchases an item. 

  The daily routine would consist of checking best sellers from the day-to-day basis online and in store. Also checking sales will be very important, according to Hiroko Tabuchi from New York Times, “In 2008, Japan's clothing and apparel-related exports came to a mere $416 million, dwarfed by the $3.68 billion exported by American apparel companies, and a tiny fraction of China's $113 billion.” As my job being an analyst I would be helping the marketing team on making sure we are setting a strong segmentation within the market. 

  Understanding the global market is important through the four main stages which include economic analysis using metrics. Infrastructure and technology, sociocultural analysis, and government actions. When evaluating the general economic environment, we need to consider the nation gross income keeping track net income. The purchasing power parity also known as the PPP is a theory in which helps check the exchange rates from the currency. 

I will also have to check the market size and population growth rate making sure we are hitting are target market and segmentation everyone as a potential customer. Understand which areas are the target like the rural or urban areas is important to strategize where to deliver the goods. 

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