Hideo Kobayashi, General Manager in the Global Research Division of IID, Inc.
Japanese high tech product developments continue to lead the world, particularly in transportation machinery, car electronics, digital devices, electronic home appliances, and video games. In addition, the international fashion industry has focused attention on Japan, with renowned name brands opening flagship stores throughout Tokyo. Japan has positioned itself as a world trend leader not only in technology, but also in subculture (animation, comics, movies, etc.) and fashion.
Although these trends continue, a recent slump in the automotive industry's domestic demand is evident, and some international companies have made comments such as, 'the matured Japanese market is unappealing as a target for business clientele'.
However, since Japan still holds a strong position as a world trend leader for a variety of products and services, understanding market structures and product marketability in this country enable international businesses to have a key to future possibilities in the Asian market. Longstanding sentiment has been that most Asian trends start in Japan: it has been said, 'If you can't sell it in Japan, then you can't sell it in Asia'.
Furthermore, in the current financial turmoil and the fear of global recession, the Japanese financial market, experiencing and learning from the bitter burst of the 1990's bubble economy, has barely been affected and remains strong. In the near future, it is believed that the marketing of commodities in the Japanese market will grow in importance and come under the world spotlight, leading to an acceleration of market research and analysis.