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

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”.


Microsoft doles out the dough to Nokia and Samsung, plans Mango marketing bonanza for year’s end

Know who loves it when other OEMs call him big poppa? Ballmer, that’s who. So much so that he’s opened up the company’s coffers to Nokia and Samsung for a holiday blitz of Mango marketing. Hold onto your hats though, it’s no carte blanche access to Redmond’s Gringotts. According to a report on Mobile Magazine, inside sources claim MS has set aside ₤28 million (about $44 million) for the endeavor, with about ₤20 million of that reserved for Nokia’s first Windows Phone 7.5 handset. This joint marketing effort is reportedly a broader extension of the cooperative agreements all parties agreed to, ensuring future WP devices get the media saturation they deserve. So, keep your eyes peeled this upcoming winter. We have a feeling you won’t be able to escape the commercial onslaught, anyway.

Microsoft doles out the dough to Nokia and Samsung, plans Mango marketing bonanza for year’s end originally appeared on Engadget on Fri, 14 Oct 2011 15:05:00 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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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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Design Your Own Postage Stamps

In the UK it’s the Queens head but in Japan it could be yours! Japan Post is running a nice campaign that lets the public design their own stamps using their own photos, that can then be used to send personilazed letters to your nearest and dearest.


Users can upload any image they like using the website and choose which kind of boarder they would like and also which value stamp they would like. The service can be used to make customized sheets of either ¥80 or ¥50 stamps in sheets of 10 or 20 stamps, and costs from ¥1,200 to ¥2,000.


From the examples given of weddings or family holiday photos, the campaign is obviously aimed to cover any number of occasions. However in Japan the tradition of sending New Years cards is similar to that of sending Christmas cards in the West but on a much larger scale, and although still 3 months away I imagine the service will be popular to many who are looking to add that extra personal touch to this year’s cards.

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Japan Mobile Marketing: Smartphones

Yahoo! Sponsored Search Results for 2011 (January to June)

Yahoo! has released information about the search terms most common in the first half of 2011 for its Sponsored Search partners. Unsurprisingly they include many phrases not seen in previous years, such as “TEPCO”, which was outside the top 100 in 2010 but is now number 17. The TEPCO mobile site alone saw a 66.88% increase in traffic in March 2011, compared to the previous month, making it the top climbing site that month by far, though we doubt anyone was celebrating those stats.

In signs that recession mentality has set in, terms like “second hand car” have also risen up the rankings. As last year, “youtube” is still top and slightly more banal newbies in the top 20 include music groups Arashi and AKB48.

These are just initial findings and are taken only from Yahoo! Sponsored Search ad key word results, though it’s clear that Japan’s “New Normal” will continue to affect everyone, from advertisers to web services, retailers and beyond.

Age Recognition for SNS Users


Softbank is to start offering age data to content suppliers from autumn. SNS and community sites will be able to engage with users if they have their permission. Currently the move is just planned for Gree and mixi.

When users access those sites via their mobile phones, whether they are new users or existing members, they will be asked if they agree to provide information on their age. If they refuse part of the page will not be visible. Those who agree will be able to find content appropriate to their demographic’s age band. It makes sense that teenaged mixi users will not want to see the same kinds of banners and content as a thirty-year old office worker. Softbank is also negotiating with Mobage to integrate the functionality with that site too.

Smartphones for Kids

Japan has always been ahead of the game when it comes to kids’ mobiles. Now KDDI has put together a plan for young Android smartphone users. The plan allows parents and guardians to limit and restrict the applications children install and use, as well as the use of the wi-fi connection. The plan is free and can be downloaded from Android Market.

japan-kids-children-smartphone[Image Source]

Looking at the currently sparse user reviews the rating for the app is not high at time of writing. The complaints seem to be that you cannot differentiate the settings and can only turn on the restrictions for everything by re-setting the phone, rather than limiting the use of certain apps etc. Savvy kids can also simply re-start the system in order to turn off the safety mode and use apps.

Top Japanese Corporation for SNS

In a survey by Agile Media Network (AMN) in early September of 300 companies, a list has emerged of the top 50 Japanese corporations who use SNS. Coca-Cola Japan came out as number one, followed by Suntory, Lawson, Universal Studios Japan, and Panasonic.

Of the corporations, 100% of them exploited Twitter to reach consumers, while 86% employed YouTube, and 84% used Facebook, way ahead of local SNS like mixi (58%) and Gree (44%). This represents a victory for Facebook, which achieved only 24% in a similar survey in February this year.

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

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Origo, the 3D printer aimed at 10 year olds

So many times in my life, I have encountered parents who have said “I barely understand how this works, but my kid is a whiz at it”. Children who are exposed to technology at a young age often fit this profile very nicely. From that exposure, they have a better chance to become more than […]

Fabric Softener for Women Who Want Romeo

It’s not often that fabric softener is made to appeal specifically to single women who want romance, but here we are.

“Which Romeo would you want to fall in love with?” is the latest advertisement slogan for a new Aroma Rich Juliette campaign that, quite frankly, made us fall out of our chairs in the office. The campaign for the aromatic fabric softener was running for about a month aimed at Japanese women who fantasize of being “Juliette” for a night and spending it with the Romeo of their choice. The Romeos, in this case, being mostly foreign guys with dreams of being famous in Japan.


These charming fellows were competing for the romantic title of The Next Romeo. It’s interesting that, among them all, the only Japanese guy in the bunch came in first!

Each one of the candidates did his best romantic performance in a short video presentation where he introduced himself, his skills, passions and dreams, while the final message was to convince the audience to choose him and become their Romeo for one night. This was the most surreal part of the video where he shows his affection – supposedly to Juliette- while cradling the Aroma Rich fabric softener bottle in his arms.


It was a hard decision, I must say. Choosing between French Vincent who whispers romantic French words to Juliette, the tall British model who divides his time with volunteer work in Tohoku…Or rather the sweet Hawaiian surfer who wants to take the next Juliette to round-the- world trip… hmmm…

Kasey Cummings, the surfer, has a blog if you want to check it out. The line when he introduces himself in the video is mindblowing in any language: “My name is Kasey. Please remember, it’s ‘Kasey’ like ‘keshi-gomu.’”

For those wondering, ‘keshi-gomu’ is Japanese for eraser, but you don’t have to snap your fingers and point when you say it.


The campaign is nicely wrapped in the fairy tale, dreamy atmosphere, piano and violin background music and French titles- something that seemingly appeals to the woman wanting romance and a Western-style courtship and wedding.

The prize, as promised, was to make this dream come true, for only one night. Two winning Juliettes will be escorted by the chosen Romeo to a production of the real ‘Romeo and Juliette’ and a romantic dinner at a fancy Italian restaurant. Runners up will be forced to live out their dreams through free bottles of fabric softener.


The chosen first place Romeo, surprisingly enough, was the only Japanese- Onuki San from Kanagawa prefecture, who humbly introduced himself with a short, but convincing, performance, as a dancer, with a simple dream of becoming a man of his words. His fun and playful final message represents probably the most of what is the ideal Romeo in Japanese women’s eyes. After all, French romances are just for dreaming, and Japanese girls remain with their reality and cultural priorities.

Aroma Rich, a Soflan brand from Lion, has other scents of happy- fruity Scarlett and elegant-floral Violetta fragrances. Juliette is the scent for love, but be careful at the airport:

Senator Schumer blasts OnStar for ‘brazen’ privacy violation, calls for FTC investigation

Last week, OnStar issued a privacy notice informing customers that it would continue to collect data on vehicles still connected to its servers, even for those who have already canceled their subscriptions. The move elicited a chorus of protests from Democratic privacy advocates in the Senate, including Chris Coons, Al Franken and, most recently, Charles Schumer, who wrote a letter to the FTC yesterday calling for an investigation into what he sees as a bold violation of consumer rights. “By tracking drivers even after they’ve canceled their service, OnStar is attempting one of the most brazen invasions of privacy in recent memory,” the New York Senator said. “I urge OnStar to abandon this policy and for FTC to immediately launch a full investigation to determine whether the company’s actions constitute an unfair trade practice.” Find out more about OnStar’s new policy, after the break.

Continue reading Senator Schumer blasts OnStar for ‘brazen’ privacy violation, calls for FTC investigation

Senator Schumer blasts OnStar for ‘brazen’ privacy violation, calls for FTC investigation originally appeared on Engadget on Mon, 26 Sep 2011 09:43:00 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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