Japan Sets New Tweets Per Second Record

Japan set a new Tweets pers Second (TPS) record over the weekend due to a classic Studio Ghibli animated film. “Castle’s in the Sky”, which airs annually around this time of year. At one particular point in the film it managed to amass 11,349 TPS, thus knocking off the previous title holder of 8868 TPS when fans learned of american singer Beyonce’s pregnancy.


The outpouring of tweets came from what has become an annual event as fans of Ghibli, and one of Japan’s most popular animators Hayao Miyazaki, issue the online cry of “Balse” during the climax of the film, echoing the icnoic spell cast by the two main characters. As Watashi To Tokyo reported, each year fans have managed to generate massive amounts of traffic on different social network sites such as 2ch and Nico Nico Douga, who’s servers went down last year due to the massive volumes of traffic. This year the social video network site had a team of engineers specifically employed to watch the servers during the show to cope with the anticipated volume of users during the crucial time.


As well as a bit of fun, the annual event actually points to the growing online community participating in activities on a shared platform yet whilst physically alone. Sites such as Nico Nico Douga now have over 50% of Japanese males in their twenties registered with the site, and online communities such as MIxi and more recently Facebook and Twitter also boasting large rapidly growing numbers. As a result more and more brands are now harnessing the power of online social communities in Japan as they realize the potential to reach mass markets in memorable and cost effective ways.

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Japan Mobile Marketing Round-Up Part 8

Uncovering the Real Cool Japan- Part 4

After exploring product design, architecture and fashion in our bid to bring the “Cool Japan” campaign up to date with a contemporary and marketable image, we have dealt with the more creative side of the country. In Part 4 however we turn our attention to something a little less sexy but nonetheless every bit as “Cool Japan” if communicated correctly; Japan’s technology and innovation. We examine how Japan’s dominance in some markets has all but vanished but uncover how innovation is still very much alive and kicking in areas where the country could set global standards.


Japanese technology and innovation has been a leading light of the country for many years; however, in recent times, there has been a huge slowing down in the edge that the country once had over other nations. For example, the days of Japan’s mobile industry being years ahead of any other countries are now gone, as the world has caught up to the kinds of technology—such as mobile wallets—that the Japanese have had for years. As rising economies nip at its heels. China and India, which are both embracing capitalism and globalization at blindingly fast rates, don’t seem to struggle with the language and culture issues like Japan. This, combined with Japan’s lack of foresight on how they could market their technology globally, means that many areas have become stagnant. This being said however, there are still many areas of innovation and technology, often ignored by the media because they lack the “wacky” factor that unfortunately the world has come to expect, that are both groundbreaking and potentially globally influential. We explore just a few of many that, with the right strategy, could certainly be communicated as true symbols of a “Cool Japan.

Continue reading the full story “Uncovering The Real Cool Japan- Part Four” in full on the global blog where we look at how can Japan’s innovation can become synonymous with Cool Japan.

For those who missed it:
Uncovering the Real Cool Japan – Part One
Uncovering the Real Cool Japan – Part Two
Uncovering the Real Cool Japan – Part Three

Toshiba’s Smart City of Tomorrow

Toshiba have launched a new marketing campaign aimed at promoting their vision of the Smart Cities of the future. The, not hugely catchily titled, M/E/S/S/A/G/E “Symphonic Balance Of Smart Community” uses Facebook and is a pretty fun video that users can personalize.


The lego town in the video represents Toshiba’s smart city with the balls rolling around in it color coded to represent the different green energy alternatives or technologies needed for the community to function. Visitors to the site are instructed to link to their Facebook accounts and can then type in a personalized message into the site. A fun video is then played which features different avatars and characters from your Facebook friends as the balls which roll around the town symbolizing the ways in which energy and technology are used to make it function. The final scene then has the balls roll down to display your personalized message which can be captured and uploaded onto your Facebook wall.


The site also links to “Toshiba’s Technology Vision for Innovation” page which shows off some of the company’s leading technology that they see “contributing to safer and more comfortable lifestyles and a sustainable society”. As with many major industrial companies in Japan this year, Toshiba have ramped up their CSR activities since the energy concerns precipitated by the Fukushima power plant events, focusing particularly on society and new energy saving technology. Companies have seen the new focus on energy as an opportunity to push a message to the public showcasing their sustainable commodities in a way that isn’t just focusing on their reaction to environmental issues but more trying to prove that they are doing their part to help the country in it’s time of need and attain energy security.


It is this strategy, of focusing more on the concrete real issues that the public can actually see and benefit from, whether it be in staving off energy shortages or simply meaning lower prices for petrol, that stands to have far greater chance of success in driving new green technology, not just in Japan I would argue but further afield. Focusing on real tangible activity rather than the tired practices of images of polar bears or arctic ice melting, that the everyday consumer has no true connection with, which will align the consumer more coherently, and ultimately therefore really driving investment into sectors that work toward a real sustainable future.

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Relax And Chat on the Pillow Phone

Japanese mobile company Willcom have launched a new winter campaign that allows users to put their heads down and really relax while they have a conversation, on a pillow phone.


The network provider is giving away the “dare to demo pillow” (meaning “with anyone”) headsets free to those who sign up to their services throughout the month of December. The pillows come in a range of colors and allow users to rest their heads while chatting by plugging their handsets in. The star shaped pillows have built in microphones and speakers and users can also play back music on them as well as chat.


Unlike other mobile providers, Willcom deals solely with less popular PHS phones and recently also released a phone accessory that is a mobile phone. The marketing efforts come in a bid to lure customers back to the company as users have rapidly declined over the years instead turning to smartphones or other mobile providers. In fact marketing efforts involving the cute and fluffy aren’t new ground to Willcom either, check out our article from way back in 2008 when the same company released a fully functional stuffed Teddy Bear Phone that was even featured in the Good Design Awards….cuddly before their time?!

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Japanese-Mexican Snack Embraces its Spicy Roots


Japanese snack company Koikeya has long produced the best-selling spicy snack Karamucho, whose name is a mix of the Japanese word “kalai” (spicy) and the Spanish word “mucho” (very). Given the Mexican origin, and similar phonetic sounds in both Spanish and Japanese, Karamucho has created a great commercial shot in Mexico with a mariachi band. Listen closely, and you’ll realize that they’re all singing in Japanese, not Spanish.

Below are the snack themselves along with the original Karamucho mascot “Hi (Hee) Grandma”.


Japan Mobile Marketing Round-Up Part 8

mixi launches counter-offensive

In the last round-up we brought you some immediate data from survey research on Japanese corporate use of social media, rapidly on the increase in Japan. Some of it takes a highly Japanese form (virtually hosted J-pop concerts) and some of it is via imported platforms finally starting to see growth (Facebook).

mixi has long been the key local rival to Facebook and it is fighting to maintain its grip on the demographic. At the end of August it started offering a new “mixi Page” feature, allowing users to customize the design of their own free space within the site. Differing to regular individual mixi user pages, you do not have to be logged in to view a mixi Page, nor do you even have to be a member of mixi. In other words, it is meant to take the mixi aesthetic and community out of mixi itself, opening up the platform to non members.


The examples for how to use the “mixi Page” feature include making it a homepage for a shop, or a portal to communicate with fans of a celebrity, or for groups of friends. It is available via a computer, regular mobile phone or the dedicated smartphone browser, Mixi Touch.

Inside the page users can send messages similar to a tweet, as well as offer feedback and responses in a similar way to Facebook’s “like”. To be honest looking at the new service, it is obvious that the service is simply a copy of the Facebook Page feature.

The new service was quickly embraced and in early September there were already over 80,000 Pages. A savvy move has been to offer PC analytics tracking for account-holders, including stats on page views, unique users, followers, comments and “likes”. There is also a ranking of Pages: The current most popular by far is the Page for Kana Nishino, a singer.


Mixi have certainly upped the ante in the face of the American challenge, they even changed their logo! But they are going to have to pull out all the stops, it seems: Some data even puts Twitter and Facebook significantly ahead of mixi now.

DeNA expands into South America

While gaming sites Mobage and Gree may seem distinctly Japanese in many ways, the companies behind them are hoping to try their luck overseas.

However, rather than push into the American market DeNA (the makers of Mobage) at least have their eye on the growing South American market. They just bought Atakama Labs, a Chilean game developer, and who had previously been responsible for making global versions of Mobage games. DeNA is hoping to expand their development team to 1,000 (Japan plus international) in the near future.

iPhones go wider, Keitai get smaller

There was much hype surrounding the news that KDDI have now started to offer iPhones to its customers at last. Early estimates of iPhone4S pre-sales put it neck-and-neck with Softbank.


What may have gone under the radar is the new Strap Phone WX03A from Willcom, a funky miniature phone on sale from December. Advertised as the same size as a box of mints (e.g. a pack of Frisk) and weighs a mere 33g (1.2 oz), with a 1-inch display. Its makers have called it the world’s smallest and lightest phone.

Don’t expect many functions or special features except for infrared connectivity. The idea is that it connects like a strap to other phones and/or to a earphone/microphone piece (sold separately). Japanese consumers are already accustomed to carrying around more than one mobile device (e.g. a regular phone and a smartphone), so it’s not as unimaginable or unmarketable as it sounds.

This is the latest in a series of blogs based on newsletters provided by our local research partner, INterRIDe Inc.

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Uncovering The Real “Cool Japan” – Part One

The following is an exerpt from CScout’s global blog the Trendpool.

Between the economic troubles, company scandals and natural disasters “Brand Japan” has taken a pretty serious hit. Unfortunately however the response has been less than impressive, the newest logo and slogan “Japan Next” about as inspiring as watching paint dry. It may work for brands such as Uniqlo, with Kashiwa Sato behind both images, where it represents their stripped back value, but for a country with such a rich and unique culture it is somewhat lacking.


When crusty bureaucrats intervene with campaigns that are aimed at highlighting the cool side of a country to encourage tourism, it’s rarely a pretty ending. Particularly not in Japan, where politics is famed for being populated by octogenarians who are about as up to date with the times as your grandparents’ old broken antique clock. Their idea of “Cool Japan”—androgynous boy bands or barely legal schoolgirl idols—promotes an image of Japan that is outdated and laughable more than it is appealing. So what should Japan be promoting to ignite interest in Brand Japan?

Continue reading the full story “Uncovering The Real Cool Japan- Part One” in full on the global blog…

Monocle Cafe Tokyo Launch Party

Global affairs magazine Monocle continued it’s expansion into new sectors over the weekend, opening up it’s first ever Monocle Cafe. Friday saw the opening party of the new Mens Hankyu department store in Tokyo which houses the new Monocle Cafe along with 8 floors of luxury mens brands.


The spacious cafe, in the basement of the department strore, also houses a small MONOCLE shop which is an addition to the other two MONOCLE shop’s in Osaka and in Tokyo’s upscale Aoyama neighborhood in the FrancFranc store. Natural materials have been used in the design of the interior which features furnishings from Japanese classic furniture brand Maruni, whose furniture was designed in collaboration with Naoto Fukasawa. The whole design concept is in keeping with Monocle’s image and branding, a modern approach which also takes into account traditional methods, clean and simple.


Regular visitors to Japan Trends will also remember the smiling face of Eiichi Kunitomo, pictured below. Kunitomo is the barista and man behind Omotesando Koffee, and he has been put in charge of overseeing the coffee and sweets menu at the new Monocle Cafe. This is certainly good news for coffee lovers who can expect the same high level of coffee found at Kunitomo’s own tiny space, (with the actual Monocle Tokyo office being just behind Omotesando Koffee, I expect frequent visits have certainly influenced this!).


“We’ve long been interested in doing a cafe and are excited by the prospects of doing something with such a talented team in Tokyo. We want the Monocle cafe to offer the best tastes and experiences found on our editors’ travels and this means great coffee, cosy classic dishes and excellent desserts,” says Tyler Brûlé, MONOCLE’s editor-in-chief.


The opening of the cafe comes as Monocle also launch their own international 24-hour web radio service, Monocle 24. The service launches live today and features “a pacy mix of current affairs, business, culture and music”.

The Monocle Cafe is located in the Hakyu MEN’S department store, B1 and is open 10am – 11pm.

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Future Retail with Smart Hangers

109 Men’s department store in Shibuya has gone hi-tec with it’s shopping experience by introducing digital interactive clothes hangers to one of it’s shops. The hangers, from Japanese company Team Lab, interact with digital displays above the products, triggering certain images and videos to be played when the hangers are picked up by a shopper.


The hangers look the same as a normal hanger but with a larger middle area which contains an embedded RFID chip. When handled by the shopper the hanger’s chip sends a signal to a computer which controls specific displays around the store corresponding to the position of that hanger.

In the shop we tried it out in, the display infront of the item automatically changed to display the product as well as other items that might go with it. The hanger can also be programmed to change the store’s background music, lighting and any other visuals programmed.


This interactive visual merchandising not only catches the eye of the consumer and drives through further purchasing through recommendations, but also logs details and aggregates data as to how popular an item is or how effective its positioning is in store. It is also a particularly unobtrusive form of marketing that blends in with the shop itself adding to the shoppers experience in a far more natural way.

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Girl’s Handbags Exposed in Smartphone Campaign

You can tell a lot about a lady from the contents of her handbag, or so Japanese mobile provider NTT DoCoMo think. They have teamed up with fashion and lifestyle magazine “Tokyo Graffiti” for a new campaign, “Handbag Interview“, emptying out the private contents of girls handbags for all to see and judge.


Visitors to the campaigns website can view the contents of 57 girls from various backgrounds laid out on the screen before them along with the smartphone they use. Items in the bag also have little speech bubbles describing why this particular item is something they never go without. The campaign lets you glimpse into the personalities of the girls on display and in doing so are introduced to the different smartphones as extensions of their lifestyles and fashion. At the bottom of the screen you can click on each girl and find out more about them. Featuring some pretty interesting information on their use of their smartphone and how their fashion and lifestyle ties into their phone choice.


There is a nice play on the Facebook like button where other girls can award hearts for the “Kawaii” (Cute) level of how they view the bag and it’s contents. The interactive videos are split up with different nuggets of information on smartphone usage amongst females.


It is actually a fairly substantial source of information on this particular demographic and the campaign presents this in a very well thought-out way. If you don’t want to sit through all 51 girls you can also use the search page, filtering your search based on age, occupation or smartphone. The group of girls to choose from is pretty diverse, featuring subjects with professions from a professional cocktail maker to a maid cafe waitress, doctors to lawyers and everything in-between.


We have recently been involved in a in depth international smartphone project of our own at CScout Japan, and it has been particularly interesting exploring how different personalities effect not only the design of what certain users look for but also how they use their smartphones in different international markets. Looking at the difference between Japanese preferences and tendencies to other global markets there is certainly a contrast, particularly amongst the female market. In Japan where accessorizing is popular the smartphone is an extension of the user’s image more so than their international counterparts. Likewise we discovered in the research how the Japanese market is much more open to color than the western markets who showed more preference to texture.

For more information about the smartphone market in Japan check out our ongoing roundup posts here or contact CScout Japan about our research.

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