One of my favorite weekend activities is browsing through Nikkei Shimbun not only with the viewpoint on what news are available, but much more what is presented and how. What kind of market reviews or ads are popular? Are there changes over time, or is the difference just seasonal based? Overall the marketing style does not change much considering the rather fixed given readership.
Another highlight from the marketing perspective: As Nikkei Shimbun is a business related newspaper the number of potential rip off ads is rather low, but still existing. I truly admire the marketing genius of the many low-cost manufactured products promoted over time. Of course there is always the chance that I cannot value the uniqueness of all these products and they might be actually really a great bargain as promoted.
Last weekend my focus while browsing through the newspaper: What kind of books can get larger ad space? As advertising space is not cheap only books that allow the biggest potential success are shown, consequently these books must then be the present trend. Two books got my attention, while I had to smile about the first one, contrary with the second one, I am concerned that insecurity and fear are used to push sales.
On the left hand side, you might notice a book about “The Japanese Way of Sitting”. Personally sitting the Japanese way is for me a painful exercise, that gets rapidly truly painful and can only be compared to torture. Either my legs or my pain level is not made for Japanese style sitting. Over the years I have asked many people on how they avoid this horrendous pain, but no one could give me useful advice. Potentially not only me, but many younger Japanese cannot handle long time seiza style sitting anymore and this book might be the solution.
The next book on the bottom right is addressing the increasing fears that are felt inside of Japan caused by the economical challenges locally, potential decreasing market size all combined increased competition from abroad. The rough translation is “The day has come when the weak are dropped”. For years now Japanese business/society has been working hard to get out of the business slump, but so far no success. It seems that step by step other regions have found a way for improvement, plus now as a final eye opener China’s financial influence can be felt in daily life. All of the sudden Ginza is full of Chinese tourists that spend much more on shopping that the locals. In order for the locals to increase their sales, more and more companies are forced to make the decision whether to stay local or go global. For sure financial pressure pushes many professionals to rethink their business approach. What can actually a Japanese company do to keep their market share or is there no choice but to go abroad for survival? As an employee with limited English and international exposure how is it possible stay with the present job with increased global competition? Many are caught up in the increasing tougher rat race and are wondering what could be done. The book by Camel Yamamoto seems to have the solution for the main concerns.
What can you do if you need to learn to think global, but you cannot go abroad? I believe this is a challenge that most Japanese professionals are facing now.
How can you become an equal partner in global negotiations? Due to the general Japanese insecurity of their English skills, international negotiations become very difficult to handle and I had seen very seldom a negotiation in English that was actually a partner level negotiation.
How come that the “technological strength of Galapagos” is not understood and adapted abroad? In telecommunication, electronics or measuring standards, most of the time a Japanese standard exist, that might be even developed before other regions in the world, but at the end the global standard does not reflect the Japan standard.
How do you deal with foreign coworkers or even boss? Although the numbers are not yet high, compared to the past more multilingual foreigners are employed at Japanese companies. Apart from being fluent in Japanese, having the right professional background combined with international business experience, I believe it is not surprising when fear pops up. I think it is natural that every society or group that has to accommodate “outsiders” shows some reactions to the “newcomer” so these concerns are understandable.
Another challenge: Limited knowledge of global legal systems, finance procedure and HR practices.
Personally I wish I had the time now to read and review the books from Camel Yamamoto as he seems to have published several along the topic of globalizing Japanese people. In case if you had read one, do keep us informed!
Brought to you by Sibylle Ito (シビル伊藤)