In Japan over the past couple of years, we've seen washable wool in everything from Konaka men's suits to sweaters by UNIQLO.
And now it turns out that manufacturers of women's suits are getting in the game too. Last week a Nikkei article mentioned that Isetan recently teamed up with Inéd, a popular brand amongst Japanese office ladies, to offer limited-edition, washable Inéd suits at prices comparable to the brand's regular offerings.
In tough economic times, shoppers start thinking hard about justifying each purchase they make, and providing a "reason why" allows them to spend more freely. "Just think about how much I can save on dry cleaning costs. . ."
Although it's not an answer for everybody, leveraging new technology like this may be one way to get Japanese consumers to revisit your brand. It's worked before on products that were technology-oriented to begin with, and also on items like fashion and sweets—normally not the kinds of things sold on functional benefits in other countries.
I love the playfulness of this online catalog for Jeanasis. Interestingly, the catalog also incorporates ads from other manufacturers (you're shown an ad for another brand, product or service when you first open the catalog).
In Japan, soft drink manufacturers often use on-pack omake ("freebies") to promote repeat sales. Not too long ago, canned coffee maker UCC tied up with All Nippon Airways to release a series of mini figurines that showcased the evolution of uniforms worn by the airline's flight attendants (click photo for larger view). Between 1955 and 2005, ANA changed its uniforms nine times, so UCC created nine figurines for consumers to collect.
For an example of an on-pack promo executed by Coca Cola Japan's Georgia canned coffee, check out this earlier post.
While a lot of people (including me) were out of town at this time last month, Levis Japan threw open the doors of a new high-end boutique in the posh Aoyama district of Tokyo.
Showcasing premium Levi's products sourced from their operations worldwide, Cinch offers three collections in the 150 M2 store.
The first line is Levi's Vintage Clothing, which, leveraging Japanese interest in rare and vintage products, gives cash-rich shoppers the chance to buy—amongst other things—$1,500 revival versions of historic jeans models, including a design first sold in 1917 (a Nikkei article says that most items in the Vintage line retail in the $300-400 range).
In these uncertain economic times, some people may be
willing to try anything to protect their feeling of well being.
In Japan, some "salary men" seem to be taking
cues from a small, but growing number of peers who have found a new way to
maintain a sense of stability as they navigate the treacherous waters of
competitive business and modern life.
How are they doing it? Believe it or not, by seeking support from a new kind of
undergarment known as the "man bra."
No, these aren't transvestites--they're regular guys
who've discovered that wearing a bra makes them feel secure, and moreover,
helps improve their concentration (some overweight men have taken to the
garments to combat "man boobs" as well).
Surprisingly, this is not exactly a new phenomenon.
I was paging through a trendy Japanese magazine the other day when I came across this ad. Before even noticing the name of the brand, the first word out of my mouth was cool. With packaging like this available, it's no wonder that a lot of fashion-conscious Japanese youth continue to smoke. Packages like these are fashion accessories.
The box was developed specifically for distribution through Japan's Circle K Sunkus convenience store chain. Click for a larger view.
Perhaps wanting to avoid the blues—what with Japanese consumer spending at the lowest levels in years, and with rival H&M just having opened down the street—the Gap's Harajuku flagship has really ratcheted up its holiday decorations this season. The duo walls of the facade have been blinking impressively with giant snowflakes and holiday greetings, and the grand steps are home to a Christmas tree—I believe—for the first time. Click for a larger view.