7 Best Japanese Baby Products Made in Japan

One of the most common comments I’ve seen at major online shops is, “I trust anything that is made in Japan, including stuff for babies.” The quality of Japanese products already has a solid international reputation.

For instance, Pigeon’s nasal aspirator vacuum suction for newborn babies has a cult following online. It is uniquely designed to prevent liquid from entering into a user’s mouth, and apparently works like a charm, and no other vacuum suction works the way Pigeon’s does.

This has to do with the fact that Japanese company heavily focus on research and development and take pride in producing high-quality, well-thought-out design Japanese baby products.

It is natural to want the best products for your babies. Here are some of the best-selling items for babies loved by mothers and fathers in Japan.

1. Nasal Aspirator Vacuum Suction

It is a super popular product and the reason is clear – it’s so well designed. Pigeon’s vacuum suction was developed in collaboration with otorhinolaryngologists. The tilted nozzle makes suction easy from any angle. The single-tube also makes suction easy and effective. This vacuum suction is designed to stop liquid from entering the user’s mouth. Established in 1957, Pigeon is one of the largest and most trusted baby products companies in Japan.

2. Baby Nappies

Japanese baby nappies are so popular among international parents that when they visit Japan, they bring back an amazing number of nappies back home. As a result, many supermarkets and drugstores have had a nappy shortage, and some shops imposed the “One nappy, one family” rule!

3. Baby Nail Clippers

Japanese baby nail clippers are a piece of art – it cuts extremely well but never too deep, giving mothers and fathers peace of mind. In particular, Pigeon’s series are highly sought after. It ranges from newborn to x years old. Give it a try and experience the difference a made-in-Japan clipper can make for your baby.

4. Easy-to-Use and Hygienic Baby Bottles

There are many types of baby bottles, but Japanese baby bottles work like a miracle. According to some reviews, Japanese baby bottles never drip a drop, every part of the bottle fits with the other parts and they are so easy to use.

5. Baby Nipple Cleansing Brush

Again, there are many types of nipple brushes, but Pigeon’s brush has been one of the best-selling products at many online stores. One of the reviewers says, “Through various baby showers we received several different types of nipple brushes. This one by far works the best. A lot of nipple brushes are simply small wire brushes that end in either sharp wire or bent wire. They don’t end with an actual cleaning surface as this does. I wouldn’t look any further than these brushes. I wholeheartedly recommend them.”

6. Baby Snacks

Japanese snacks such as Pocky, Hi-Chew, and Matcha KitKat are well known internationally as top Japanese baby products. Baby snacks in Japan are equally diverse and of high quality. If you don’t want to give your baby unhealthy snacks, try Japanese baby snacks.

7. Japanese Baby Products: Bento Lunch Boxes

Japanese bento lunch boxes are highly sought after overseas. They are well designed, cute, and last for a long time. Many Japanese parents choose made-in-Japan bento lunch boxes because their children are eating out of the boxes. Feel safe with made in Japan lunch boxes!

Importing baby products into Japan? Want to know if your products are subject to Japan Toy and Baby Products Import regulations?

Importing Toys under the age of 6 and Baby Products requires attention to detail and full compliance with Japan import regulations. COVUE is the direct IOR. We own our licenses and our compliance teams are in-house. We have the only Online IOR system in Japan. We take attention to detail and compliance to the next level.

Let COVUE’s regulatory experts help you to speed up the market entry process so can that you can focus on your business. We’re here to help!

How COVID-19 is altering consumer behavior in Japan

Like millions of other Tokyoites enduring month after month of “soft lockdown,” Megumi Takesawa has been stocking up on non-perishables such as canned tuna, tomatoes, and corned beef as well as boil-in-the-bag curry. She also stores a wider selection of alcohol in her pantry now, from bottles of wine and sake to cases of beer, as dining out and gathering with colleagues after work for drinks have become a rarity.

Meanwhile, the 39-year-old office worker says she’s spending less on tickets for live concerts, movies, and theater performances, and has substantially cut down on vacation expenses, as long-distance travel is frowned upon. She also tries to buy books from local bookstores so the smaller shops won’t go out of business, and, in order to stay fit while working remotely, she’s taken up jogging.

Some hygiene practices that have become commonplace over the past year to curb the risk of contagion will likely stick, Takesawa says.

“I think I’ll be carrying around disinfectant sprays and wet wipes regularly even after the pandemic,” she says.

COVID-19 is upending Japanese shopping habits like never before. Stay-at-home requests, social distancing measures, and the surge in remote work have seen consumers reprioritizing what is essential.

Healthy dietary and lifestyle choices, as well as demand for home cooking and baking, have seen products such as protein powder and flour fly off the shelves while the ubiquitous use of face masks has hammered cosmetics sales. And with physical contact being largely avoided, more people are swapping supermarkets for online shops.

A Mitsukoshi department store in Tokyo’s Nihombashi neighborhood is closed during the state of emergency in April 2020. | KYODO

For corporations buoyed or burdened by the phenomenon, the big question they are asking themselves is whether these trends are temporary or here to stay.

“I’ve never seen anything like this,” says Toshimitsu Kiji, a data analyst at market research firm Intage Inc. The company collects weekly sales data from approximately 4,000 retail outlets nationwide, including supermarkets, convenience stores, and drug stores, to assess consumer trends.

According to figures it compiled for the whole of 2020, sales of face masks, disinfectants, and thermometers jumped by 380%, 296%, and 255% year on year, respectively. While that may be unsurprising considering the ongoing pandemic, more unexpected products also made its top-30 list of highest-selling goods last year.

At the sixth place on its list is “malt beverages,” which grew by 173%. Behind the spike was a social media-backed campaign purporting the health benefits of Milo, the malt-based chocolate drink produced by Nestle. Its sudden popularity saw the powdered product disappear from supermarkets, with opportunists selling them at a premium on resale sites.

“Snacks produced by toymakers” come in at No. 7, with sales climbing 154% compared to 2019. Kiji says the phenomenon was partially the result of people flocking to snacks that come with stickers and other toys that feature characters from “Demon Slayer,” the manga and anime series that was the basis for a film released last year became the biggest-ever box-office hit in Japanese history.

Protein powder follows in eighth place with a 141% surge.

“From around June last year, young women began buying soy protein powders in order to stay in shape during the pandemic,” Kiji explains. “Maintaining a healthy lifestyle while remote working has been a big topic affecting shopping trends.

“Others on the list include non-perishables such as frozen seafood as well as whipping cream and baking mix for home cooking purposes. With people spending more time at home, we saw sales of detergent, deodorants, and dehumidifiers grow,” he says. “And with restaurants facing closures and asked to curtail business hours during a state of emergencies, alcohol sales have been robust.”

Sales of face masks in Japan rose 380% in the 2020 year on year, according to figures compiled by market research firm Intage Inc. | REUTERS

Meanwhile, cosmetics took a hit in 2020, with lipstick faring the worst with sales down by more than half at 42% compared to the previous year. Sales of face blushes, foundations and makeup bases also plunged to 63%, 68%, and 72% year on year, respectively, with fewer opportunities to go out and people encouraged to work from home. Drugs for motion sickness fell out of demand as trips became less frequent, while better hygiene over virus fears put a damper on common cold medicine.

“Sales of chewing gum and candies — things often purchased by office workers to stay alert during the day — have also fallen,” Kiji says.

So which products are going to maintain their edge when the pandemic subsides?

“It essentially comes down to goods that consumers feel are useful,” Kiji says. “For example, recent data suggests hair treatment products are gaining popularity. If people feel they can take care of their hair by themselves rather than frequently visiting beauty salons, that could become a lasting trend. The same goes for bath additives. If consumers feel they’re effective in relaxing and rejuvenating, they will continue using them even when they can freely go out without the worry of contagion.”

A report on the impact COVID-19 is having on Japanese consumer behavior compiled by Nomura Research Institute (NRI) says stockpiling of non-perishables will likely decelerate as the pandemic subsides, but home cooking will still be popular and interest in healthy eating is expected to continue growing. Sales of large television sets and other home entertainment audio-visual systems are expected to remain strong, while the outdoor activities boom may see demand for SUVs rise.

The outbreak is understandably accelerating spending on online services as well — not only shopping for daily necessities, but also for games and video-on-demand streaming and rental services.

Hiroyuki Hayashi, a consultant at NRI and an expert on consumer trends, says the ratio of those surveyed by the think tank who are subscribers to Amazon Prime, for example, jumped by 6 percentage points from 16% to 22% in the two months from March to May last year.

“Prior to that, it took two years for the ratio of subscribers to grow 3 percentage points, so this was quite a surprise,” he says. “It shows how the first state of emergency issued last April turbocharged digitalization in Japan.”

Online shopping, banking, and free video-streaming services such as YouTube have all seen strong demand, Hayashi says, although there’s a catch.

“Online shopping activity remains strong amid the pandemic, but the number of money users spends per transaction has decreased,” he says. “Whereas people used to buy in bulk when shopping online, they are now buying more frequently in smaller quantities.”

Surveys conducted by NRI in December 2018 and December 2020 showed that the number of times respondents said they shopped online annually grew from 33.8 to 37.4. In terms of the amount spent per transaction, however, the figure dropped to ¥2,136 from ¥2,484.

“When analyzing the number of transactions and payment amounts, we notice purchasing activity is most robust among youths,” Hayashi says. “Those in their teens, for example, spend roughly ¥600 on average per transaction, while those in their 20s typically spend around ¥1,000.”

China leads the pack with one of the most sophisticated digital ecosystems in the world. According to Mckinsey & Company’s China consumer report 2021, the nation has more than 850 million internet users, with mobile payment penetration triple that of the United States. It also boasts the world’s largest e-commerce market, accounting for about 45% of global retail e-commerce transaction value in 2018.

The report says around 55% of Chinese consumers are likely to continue buying more groceries online after the peak of the crisis. The consulting giant said that, according to its mobile survey, 74% of Chinese citizens increased their online grocery visit frequency during the pandemic, and 15% said they will increase visits after its peak has passed.

Japan, in the meantime, has been a slow starter when it comes to digital payments. Cash remains king, and contactless transactions including credit cards and smartphone apps account for only 20% of personal spending, according to 2016 data from the Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry. That’s compared to over 95% in South Korea and nearly 70% in the United Kingdom.

Hayashi of NRI says surveys show that even during the pandemic, the Japanese have been relatively hesitant compared to other developed nations in using services such as online learning, telemedicine, and smart speakers. But when users were asked whether they plan on utilizing these services after the pandemic, a large portion was optimistic.

“Digitalization will be here to stay,” he says. “Japanese tend to be reluctant to spend money on new services, but once they do and realize the benefits they can enjoy, they tend to become loyal customers.

“Internet shopping will also take a stronghold, especially when movement has been restricted for so long,” he says.

“There’s no comparable event in modern history that has impacted consumer behavior at this scale,” Hayashi adds, expressing concern that a growing digital divide and financial hardships endured by many during the crisis could exacerbate economic inequality.

“I fear the economic fallout from the pandemic will widen the wealth gap.”

The outbreak is already taking a severe toll. According to the health ministry, as of early April, more than 100,000 people have been dismissed or seen their employment contracts terminated without renewal.

Under the circumstances, job insecurity is likely to remain high especially among workers in the manufacturing, retail, and restaurant industries that have been hardest hit by the pandemic. That, in turn, is impacting consumer behavior.

In order to understand how the pandemic is changing consumer psychology, online market researcher Macromill Inc. launched its own consumer segment — the With COVID-19 Segment — in December. It features six segments based on analyzing the company’s 1.3 million consumer panel.

These include average consumers (33%) who are adapting to the new lifestyle yet feeling stressed and inconvenienced, as well as those who are “home nesting” to avoid virus risks but are struggling with their social lives (14%) and feeling financially pinched (14%). The latter two segments are mostly women in their 40s and below.

Then there are the digital natives in higher income brackets who have quickly adapted to the “new normal” (15%) and those who have taken the pandemic in stride (11%) without letting the crisis get in the way of their personal lives and hobbies. The latter segment is led by men in their 40s to 60s.

Finally, there’s the segment composed mainly of men in their 30s and younger who are feeling inconvenienced by virus-induced restrictions but nevertheless continue to go out and meet with like-minded people (13%).

Tomoyuki Shibuya, a senior consultant at Macromill, says half of the six segments representing roughly a third of all consumers surveyed are enduring a lower quality of life amid the outbreak compared to the rest that is typified by older men and high-income white-collar types.

“Those feeling financially strained are most often members of small to midsize businesses that are facing the wrath of the pandemic,” he says. “This divide will likely remain after the crisis. Japan has long been described as a middle-class society, but that may no longer be the case.”

Source: Japan Times

Market Trends: Selling Fashion and Beauty in Japan

Consumers in Japan are some of the most sophisticated and hard-to-please in the world, yet with open wallets for products, they trust.

Here are some facets of Japan’s rag trade, beauty trends, and beyond—including makeup, youth, and senior fashion—that marketers in Japan or those that plan a market entry into Japan should know, as well as how shopping for all this stuff is changing.

The major key is self-expression for those times when not in harness in the working world.

Exhibitor feedback from the autumn Fashion World Tokyo Show reveals that Japan’s consumers have some particular tastes. Accessories and bags with a low bling factor, for one. They also prefer clothes that don’t wrinkle or fade, which makes clothing produced using completely natural materials and dyes less attractive. In footwear, they favor more comfortable, less formal styles.

The skincare game and other altered states

Bihaku – white skin as the epitome of beauty

Bihaku is an integral element of a sophisticated skincare regimen, encompassing makeup removal, cleansing, lotion, serums and moisturizers, exfoliators, and more. That self-care actually extends to what’s eaten and drunk—collagen-rich and fermented foods, seaweed and oily fish, for example, and green tea—as well as onsen bathing.

The mochi skin phenomenon

There’s a definite desire among Japanese women to attain what’s known as “mochi skin”—essentially a complexion that mimics the soft, smooth texture of mochi rice cake desserts.

In vivid contrast to that flawless skin, Japan’s young fashionistas are applying colored eyeliner (yellow, green, pink, and more), or maybe under-eye blush or glossy, glittery eye shadow.

There’s a vibrant gloss for the lips, too, in fruity shades. Younger Japanese women also go in for colorful nail art, including what are known as “nuance nails,” with each nail covered in different colors, designs, and decorations.

Cutting edge contact lenses and hair care

Colored and patterned contact lenses—the latter known as “circle lenses”—hold a particular appeal in the land of manga, anime and cosplay.

Important to know for overseas marketers is the fact that while some circle lenses are nearsighted,
farsighted or astigmatic folks, most are pure fashion statements.

Japanese manufacturers have also devised some radically new tech for hair care. Louvredo’s Fukugen hair dryer uses a special far-infrared wavelength of 6 ~ 20 μm and negative ionization to shake the moisture out of the hair, eliminating the usual damage to hair proteins that hot air causes. Lumielina’s Bio programming range of care and styling products use a new type of ceramic that not only shields hair from heat but also actually improves its smoothness, moisture balance, and gloss.

Online fashion buying habits of the Japanese

Buying fashion and beauty products remotely has always been a bit tricky unless you know exactly what you’re getting, especially when it comes to fit/drape and shade. That doesn’t stop many, though. You see ladies avidly scrolling through clothes and accessories online. On a train or in a coffee shop, for example, they may be hunting for bargains on name-brand goods at a flash sale site.

Smartphone apps are changing the game as well. One called Bodygram uses AI deep-learning and machine-learning algorithms based on just a front and profile photo to the size you perfectly, like a master tailor. Augmented reality (AR) makeup mirrors from app developer Perfect Corp. are helping Estée
Lauder, L’Oréal, and Amway give shoppers the chance to virtually apply products via smartphone
as well. New Balance has set up machines in major Japanese department stores
and elsewhere to do 3D scans of your foot for an exact fit.

The customer is not king, but god in Japan. Anything you can offer them to enhance their shopping experience might get you into their good graces – and purchasing decision.

The Japanese senior fashion market: A graceful transition into maturity

Older women in Japan are increasingly opting for mature styles in both hair and what they wear, not seeking to duplicate the fashions their daughters and granddaughters pursue. That includes a more natural, personal look and going gracefully gray up top. All featured older women rocking distinctive styles and dos.

That’s one powerful indication that designing for and selling to the senior market is worthwhile.

Functional fashion is not a niche, but mainstream in Japan

For marketers, some other pivots include temperature—such as wide-legged pants to stay cool in Japan’s
steamy summertime, and Uniqlo’s “heat-tech” garments for keeping warm in the winter. Other upcoming segments include fashion and beauty addressing environmental, ethical, and sustainability issues, like e.g. anti-pollution skincare products.

Planning to sell Fashion and Beauty Product In Japan?

Having local help onboard is essential in order to be successful in Japan Market Entry. Don’t know where to start? We can help!

COVUE is a trustworthy Japanese company that has import licenses for many product categories. Let COVUE’s regulatory experts help you to speed up the market entry process so can that you can focus on your business. We’re here to help! It’s what we do best!

society expo

Society 5.0 Expo showcases Japan’s advanced technologies

The Cabinet Office on Thursday launched the Society 5.0 Expo jointly with the Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology (JAMSTEC) at Tokyo Skytree Town. This is expected to be Japan’s first major expo to focus on Society 5.0. The expo will also be viewable online with multilingual explanations for the global audience.

The expo will showcase the Society 5.0 concept proposed by the Japanese government as a highly desirable future society. The  concept envisions the creation of a human-centered society in which all industries and other areas of society adopt AI, IoT, robots, big data and other innovative technologies to overcome critical challenges. The Cabinet Office’s 6th Science, Technology and Innovation Basic Plan covering fiscal 2021 to 2025 sets forth the direction of science, technology and  innovation policies to secure sustainability, resilience and the well-being of diverse individuals. 

The expo will present achievements being realized through national projects focused on increasing innovation in society,  including the cross-ministerial strategic innovation promotion program (SIP) and the ImPACT program for stimulating high risk, high-impact R&D. Japan’s scientific and technological aspirations will be conveyed through numerous displays of  advanced technologies. 

Specifically, some 50 leading Japanese companies, universities and organizations will exhibit approximately 200 products  and research achievements that are expected to contribute not only to Society 5.0 but also the U.N.’s Sustainable Development  Goals. The exhibits will cover fields such as mobility, healthcare and caregiving, manufacturing, agriculture, food, disaster  prevention and energy, including:  

• Asteroid-explorer Hayabusa2’s returned capsule  

• Full-scale model of SHINKAI 6500 submersible piloted to 6,500 meters undersea 

• SkyDrive flying car 

• Honda Legend Level-3 autonomous vehicle with high-definition 3D mapping 

• Model of small synthetic-aperture radar satellite system for on-demand launches and instant observation

• HAL wearable cyborg that transmits brain signals to human muscles for assistance with physical functions

• Disaster-prevention systems for heavy rain and tornado forecasting and ICT-based information sharing

• Smart agriculture technology, such as an automated water supply and drainage system 

International viewers will be welcome to enjoy the many exhibits viewable online via mobile devices and PCs, supported  with explanations available in a number of languages. The organizers will be pleased to present the virtual exhibition as an  opportunity for the global community to learn more about Japan’s forward-looking Society 5.0 concept. 

Exhibits will be grouped under the follow themes: 

Stage 1 Prologue

The opening theme will present a full-scale model of the SHINKAI 6500 research submersible and a Dagik Earth three-dimensional digital globe, etc. Satellite-based technologies that are being deployed on a practical working basis in various sectors also will be introduced.

Stage 2 Science Frontiers — Space and Ocean

Exhibits of Japan’s world-class space-exploration technology will include models of the International Space Station, the Kibo Japanese Experiment Module, a full-scale rocket engine, and the Hayabusa2 return capsule.

Exhibits of Japan’s ocean exploration and environmental-simulation technology will include autonomous underwater vehicles for exploring hydrothermal vents and ocean-floor resources and advanced solutions for ocean research.

Stage 3 5.0 Society of the Future

Science and technologies developed through Japan’s SIP and ImPACT programs and how they will help to enhance life in five areas: 1) 100-year lifespans, 2) Mobility and social interaction, 3) Infrastructure for more resilient and safer life, 4) Human- and earth-friendly lifestyles and 5) Advanced manufacturing. Exhibits will include automated solutions such as robots, vehicles and drones, disaster-prevention systems such as AI for infrastructure inspections, robotic industrial borescopes, next-generation energy and resources such as ammonia fuel and ocean-floor minerals, and advanced materials such as synthetic spider silk and strong but flexible ultra-thin polymers.

Stage 4 Trajectory toward Society 5.0

The evolution of human civilization will be presented through videos and other visuals portraying Society 1.0 (hunting & gathering), 2.0 (agriculture), 3.0 (industry) and 4.0 (information) as well as 5.0 (at Tokyo Skytree Tembo Galleria, the closest point to space in Tokyo).

Stage 5 Society 5.0 Theater

Films from the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) and JAMSTEC will be aired. Also, researchers and experts will give presentations about science, oceans, disaster prevention and ICT for advanced technology and innovation.

Japan Luxury

Understanding New Trends and Opportunities in Japan’s Luxury Industry

Japan is the second-largest luxury market in the world – behind the United States and ahead of mainland China – with 3.6 trillion yen (about US$33 billion) spent each year in luxury goods.

  • Luxury labels, built on exclusivity, used to mean that having an online presence was not necessary; not the case anymore
  • digital channels must used by companies to get leverage in the market (search engines, social media, email, websites and mobile apps etc.)

Japan’s luxury industry:

  • GFC then disasters in Tōhoku and Fukushima, luxury spending in Japan shrank by over 1 trillion yen ($10.6 billion) by 2012
  • report by McKinsey & Company: Japanese luxury market… to maintain positive growth
  • 82% of luxury executives surveyed responded that their sales outlook for 2017 is significantly better than 2016.
  • by 2020, it is anticipated that the market will grow by a moderate rate of 3% to 4% per year
  • Japanese department stores are still the main venue of purchase for Japanese luxury consumers
  • 70% of people polled buy in Department store representing 50% overall revenue
  • Younger generation is buying brands like Céline, Balenciaga, and Gucci
  • Older generation are purchasing from brands like Hermès and Chanel, which are perceived as “very reliable” and “have a heritage.”

Digital marketing in the luxury industry:

  • a renewed interest in Japan in the past year or so due to recent market growth
  • Japan accounts for 11% of global luxury spending
  • Luxe Digital recently published a report suggesting that digital influences at least 80% of all luxury sales

Digital marketing techniques that are currently trending in the luxury industry:

  • Content is King
    • Storytelling, being able to tell the story behind the brand, explaining the values that define it: Luxury goods as much about image, style, and intangibles than about the actual quality of the product
    • Create contents that are aspirational and appeal to the customer’s desire to display their status
    • A luxury brand gives their customers an opportunity to showcase a lifestyle and a value system
  • Successful digital marketing campaigns
    • Burberry: social media campaigns and creative videos that combine history, fashion, and the appeal of a glamorous lifestyle. YouTube – 99 million viewers, 317,000 subscribers. Recent ad received 12 million views within a month (holiday campaign tribute for the movie Billy Elliot – Celebrating 15 years of Billy Elliot).
  • Social Media Marketing
    • Visual social networks like Pinterest provide a huge opportunity for luxury brands
    • Photographs are one of the best media for marketing luxury products
    • Chanel: one of the most ‘pinned’ brands on Pinterest – over 1,244 pins of Chanel products pinned per day
  • Boost SEO
    • A well-executed SEO strategy is one of the most lucrative digital marketing investments that a luxury company can do.
    • Google is one of the most significant channels for luxury
    • A large proportion of luxury brands have begun investing in SEO strategies
    • Tiffany: bought into SEO, have firm, successful strategies which have led to them dominating the search results

Importing Luxury Goods In Japan? We got you!

Having local help onboard is essential in order to be successful in Japan Market Entry. Don’t know where to start? We can help!

COVUE is a trustworthy Japanese company that has import licenses for many product categories. Let COVUE’s regulatory experts help you to speed up the market entry process so can that you can focus on your business. We’re here to help! It’s what we do best!

Japanese employees

Is Thursday, the new Monday?

Last year, companies around the U.S. scrambled to figure out how to shut down their offices and set up their employees for remote work as the COVID-19 virus suddenly bore down on the world.

Now, in a mirror image, they are scrambling to figure out how to bring many of those employees back.

Most companies are proceeding cautiously, trying to navigate declining COVID-19 infections against a potential backlash by workers who are not ready to return.

Tensions have spilled into the public at a few companies where some staff has organized petitions or even walkouts to protest being recalled to the office. Many workers in high-demand fields, such as tech or customer service, have options amid a rise in job postings promising “remote work” — an alluring prospect for people who moved during the pandemic to be closer to family or in search of more affordable cities.

“A lot of people have relocated and don’t want to come back, ” said Chris Riccobono, the CEO of Untuckit LLC, a casual men’s clothing company. “There’s a lot of crazy stuff that is a big day-to-day pain point.”

Riccobono said he can’t wait to get his 100 corporate staffers back to the office in Manhattan’s Soho neighborhood because he believes that productivity and morale are higher that way. Starting in September, the company will require those employees to report to the office Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays on the hope that the flexibility of a “hybrid” schedule will keep everyone happy.

Many others are similarly introducing a gradual return. Companies like Amazon and automakers Ford and General Motors have promised to adopt a hybrid approach permanently for their office staff, responding to internal and public surveys showing an overwhelming preference for work-from-home options.

But implementing a hybrid workplace can be a headache, from identifying which roles are most conducive to remote work to deciding which days of the week employees need to be in the office. There are client meetings to consider. And some business leaders argue newer employees need more face-time as they begin their careers or start new at at company.

“Thursday is the new Monday,” according to Salesforce, a San Francisco-based technology firm, which found that Thursday was the most popular day for employees to report to the office when the company reopened its Sydney offices back in August.

Riccobono, on the other hand, insists employees show up on Mondays to get organized and set the tone for the week. Like many employers, however, he acknowledges he is still figuring things out as he navigates uncharted territory.

“We will revisit in January, ” he said. “We will see how it works.”

Across the country, office buildings in the top 10 U.S. cities had an average occupancy rate of about 32% in late June, according to estimates from Kastle Systems a security company that monitors access-card wipes at some 2,600 buildings. In Manhattan, just 12% of office employees had returned as of late May, according to the latest survey by the Partnership for New York City, a non-profit organization of major business leaders and employers.

Romina Rugova, an executive at fashion brand Mansur Gavriel, enjoyed the tranquility as she sat on a riverside bench in lower Manhattan after a rare day back at the office for a meet-and-greet with the company’s newly hired head of e-commerce.

A mother of two, Rugova had mixed feelings about returning to the office. Seeing colleagues in person after so long was invigorating, and she did not always enjoy blurring her family and professional life.

“The challenge is you have to be three people at the same time. You have to be a professional, you have to be a cook, you have to be a cleaner, you have to be a mom,” Rugova said. “Being in the office after a while was so nice and refreshing. It’s completely different experience, you don’t realize it.”

But she doesn’t want to completely give up the three hours of extra time she saves without the commute. Many of her colleagues feel the same way, so Mansur Gavriel will likely implement a flexible policy when most of its 40 employees return to the office after Labor Day.

“We are still figuring it out,” Rugova said.

While most employers will accelerate their return-to-office plans over the summer, nearly 40% of office employees will still be working remotely in September, according to the Partnership for New York City’s survey.

The trend has raised concerns about an unequal economic recovery, given that working remotely is an option available to a privileged few. Only about 15% of workers teleworked because of the pandemic in June, according the U.S. Department of Labor’s monthly jobs report. Most work jobs at restaurants, schools, hospitals, factories and other places that require them to show up in person.

Some of large investment banks, which are top employers and office space tenants in New York City, are leading the push to bring employees back, taking a hardline approach in comparison with tech giants that have rolled out generous remote work policies.

Morgan Stanley CEO James Gorman said at a conference earlier this month that he would “be very disappointed if people haven’t found their way into the office” by Labor Day.

“If you can go a restaurant in New York City, you can come into the office,” Gorman said, though he acknowledged that there should be flexibility for parents still struggling with childcare logistics that fell apart during the pandemic.

Gorman also made clear that he was not open to the “work from anywhere” mentality that some companies have adopted, saying employees who want to earn New York City salaries should work in the city. The CEOs of JPMorgan Chase and Goldman Sachs have made similar comments, sparking furious debate about whether they would push employees out the door.

It remains to be seen how deeply remote work policies will influence recruitment and retention. But professionals looking for flexibility are finding they have options.

Brecia Young, a data analytics scientist and mother of a 1-year-old child, had choices when she was looking to switch jobs from a small Chicago firm. She accepted an offer from Seattle-based real estate company Zillow in part because the company allowed her to work from home and stay in Chicago, where she and her husband have relatives to help with child care.

Japan Skin Care

Top 5 Japanese Best Collagen Supplements Japanese Women’s Beauty Secrets Revealed

To begin with, Japanese skincare products containing collagen are a must item for most women in this country. They also eat collagen regularly. Visit restaurants or izakaya, and you’ll find dishes that are rich in collagen, such as pigs trotters (tonsoku), shark fin (fukahire), and chicken skin. Collagen-rich food becomes particularly popular during winter as their skin tends to get really dry.

Of course, they can’t always eat such collagen-rich dishes at restaurants all the time. What do they do then? It seems collagen supplements are the answer and Japanese supplement producers provide plenty of types for women of varying ages to choose from.

Even just a quick visit to drugstores in Japan will quickly prove how popular and various Japanese collagen supplements are. They come in the forms of tablets, powder, and liquid, and from major to not-so-major producers offer hundreds of different collagen supplements.

While this is a welcoming state of beauty affairs, it could be quite confusing and time-consuming to find the right one. If you are new to the collagen scene, you’d probably like to go with the most trusted ones in the Japanese collagen market. Here is a list of the top 5 selling best collagen in Japan available at Takaski.com, which has hundreds of fans ordering repeatedly.

#5: ASAHI Perfect Asta Collagen

As soon as ASAHI Perfect Asta Collagen was added to our store, we started to receive inquires and orders. This series is growing extremely popular because it of course contains high-quality collagen, but also 12 kinds of beauty ingredients including hyaluronic acid (3mg), Elastin (1mg), Beauty body lactic acid bacteria (30mg), Glucosamine (60mg), CoQ10 (5mg), Vitamin C (100mg) and more! This is one of the best-selling collagen powders in Japan.

#4: FANCL HTC Collagen DX

Fancl is widely known as a Japanese skincare producer, but they make amazing supplements, too. After all, it’s best to try to improve your skin from the inside out – using high-quality skincare products and consuming high-quality collagen supplements!

Japanese Fancl HTC Collagen DX comes in three forms – tablets, powder, and liquid. The Fancl HTC Collagen DX 30 contains 900mg of collagen in addition to apple polyphenols which help prevent the damage of ultraviolet. This is one of the best-selling collagen tablets in Japan.

#3: MEIJI New Amino Collagen Premium

Perhaps you think Meiji is a snack producer but established in 1926, Meiji has been one of the leading health supplements producers in Japan! In fact, Meiji Collagen has a cult following and we receive orders for them from all over the world. There are two types to choose from MEIJI Amino Collagen and Amino Collagen Premium. They recently renewed – thanks to advances in collagen quality and concentrated beauty ingredients, the necessary daily intake of collage has reduced from 7g to 3g! This reduced amount intake is more effective than previous products. Delicious and easy to consume every day by mixing with drinks or food. The older model is still available until stock lasts. This is one of the best-selling collagen powders in Japan.

#2: DHC Collagen Supplements

You might know DHC as one of the most trusted Japanese skincare companies, but they also make an amazing range of health and beauty supplements. At our store, the most popular DHC supplement is DHC Collagen Supplements 60 Days, which contains fish-based collagen peptides and vitamins B1 and B2. The product helps improve skin quality and maintain moisture in and beauty of the skin. Collagen is a type of protein that is combined with amino acids. 70% of original skin is said to be made of collagen. The best time to consume DHC Collagen is in the evening. The recommended dose is up to six tablets per day and it helps digest if taken after a meal. This is one of the best-selling collagen tablets in Japan.

#1: SHISEIDO The Collagen

Shiseido The Collagen is really the queen of collagen supplements in Japan. The series comes in the forms of powder, tablets, and liquid. The most popular at our store is the powder type, which can be consumed with any of your favorite food or drink. The Collagen Powder contains active ingredients including collagen 5,000mg, hyaluronic acid 1mg, Ceramide 600 micrograms. Japanese Shiseido The Collagen has the following types:

Japanese Shiseido The Collagen Japan also has smoothies with mango and banana flavor. If you are new to collagen, the smoothie type may be a good one to start with! This is one of the best-selling collagen powders in Japan.

This is the right time to sell your Beauty Product in Japan!

Having local help onboard is essential in order to be successful in Japan Market Entry. Don’t know where to start? We can help!

COVUE is a trustworthy Japanese company that has import licenses for many product categories. Let COVUE’s regulatory experts help you to speed up the market entry process so can that you can focus on your business. We’re here to help! It’s what we do best!

Japan Land

Land Prices in Japan Fall for First Time in 6 Years

Land prices in Japan fell 0.5% on average in 2021 from a year before, down for the first time in six years due to loss in demand by foreign visitors amid the coronavirus pandemic, government data showed Thursday.

The data released by the National Tax Agency showed that land prices as of Jan. 1 fell in 39 of the country’s 47 prefectures, with metropolitan areas of Tokyo, Osaka, and Aichi, and 10 other prefectures suffering a setback after rising in the previous year.

Shizuoka saw the steepest decline of 1.6%, followed by Gifu and Ehime, both down 1.4%. Many other prefectures expanded their margin of decline.

Land prices in seven prefectures rose, down from 21 prefectures last year, with the margins of increase narrowing.

Fukuoka saw the biggest rise of 1.8%. While prices in Okinawa climbed 1.6%, the margin of increase shrank steeply from a 10.5% hike last year.

Of the 47 prefectural capitals, prices fell in 22, compared to one last year, particularly at tourist spots and downtown areas usually popular with inbound travelers.

The Omiya street in Nara saw a fall of 12.5%, Sannomiya Center Gai shopping street in Kobe a drop of 9.7% and Midosuji avenue in Osaka a decline of 8.5%.

The Kokusai-dori shopping street in Naha, Okinawa, dropped 1.4% after registering the highest increase of 40.8% last year.

Land prices in eight capitals rose, down by 30 from a year before, supported by development projects. Seventeen remained at the same level.

A plot in Tokyo’s Ginza shopping district, in front of Kyukyodo stationery store, marked the most expensive piece of land in the country for the 36th year, fetching ¥42.72 million ($384,500) per square meter.

But the price represented a fall of 7.0% from the year before, the first drop after rising for seven consecutive years.

Land designated as evacuation zones in parts of Fukushima Prefecture following the 2011 nuclear disaster continued to show no value in the data.

The tax agency’s annual survey of prices per 1 square meter of land facing major roads as of Jan. 1 covered about 325,000 points across the country this year. It is used for calculations of inheritance tax and gift tax.

How to Start Selling Your Consumer Product in Japan through ECommerce

Are you planning on selling your consumer product online in Japan? Do you know exactly what is necessary for a successful B2C e-commerce strategy in the Japanese market? Although there are some hurdles that overseas retailers need to overcome in order to trade in Japan, the obstacles are greatly diminished when selling online or on Japanese eCommerce marketplaces. Here we will introduce the easiest and fastest ways for you to start selling in Japan.

Top 3 easiest ways to sell your product in Japan

D2C via your eCommerce website:

This is probably the easiest way to start selling in Japan without having to set anything up in Japan physically. If you are already selling online via your website, you can easily create a localized version in Japanese. We do, however, recommend that you properly localize your entire website into native Japanese as English literacy is below 10% in Japan. Without a Japanese website, it will be difficult to win the trust of Japanese online shoppers and, as a result, your conversions will be low. In addition, as a newcomer to the Japanese marketplace, you will need to run brand awareness campaigns and promotions across all digital channels, utilizing search engine marketing and social media. Selling direct to customers on your own website will require some investment into online advertising, but you won’t have to open an office in Japan or hire anyone locally. 

B2C via eCommerce marketplaces:

If you’re an unknown brand in Japan, then utilizing one of Japan’s popular marketplaces would be a great way to get your foot in the door. The top marketplaces (or “EC Malls”) include Amazon Japan, Rakuten and Yahoo! Shopping, and what is great about these platforms is that millions of Japanese online shoppers are already using them. Japan’s most popular marketplace, Rakuten offers support to overseas sellers in English.  You can also leverage your visibility with marketplace PPC advertising. Furthermore, should you choose to sell on Amazon Japan, they offer Fulfillment By Amazon (FBA) in Japan, which means logistics is taken care of by Amazon. Moreover, if you use their Multi-Channel Fulfillment (MCF) service, they can fulfil orders that come from other channels – like Rakuten. 

Distributor partnerships and third-party agencies:

Traditionally, it has only been possible to successfully enter the Japanese market via multiple layers of intermediaries. Although the landscape has changed dramatically with eCommerce as mentioned above, distributor channels can prove successful depending on your desired distribution channels. Local distributors and agencies will have the market expertise and existing relationships you need to start selling in Japan. Organizations such as the Department for International Trade and Export to Japan can help you with such partnerships. As for selling on Japan-exclusive marketplaces such as PayPal Mall, we at DFMA have a new solution for overseas sellers interested in selling on the platform.

Enter Japanese Market with No Worries!

Having local help on board is essential in order to be successful in Japan Market Entry. Don’t know where to start? We can help!

COVUE is a trustworthy Japanese company that has import licenses for many product categories. Let COVUE’s regulatory experts help you to speed up the market entry process so can that you can focus on your business. We’re here to help! It’s what we do best!

GPS Shoes

Honda creates GPS navigation system for your shoes

The vast majority of streets in Japan don’t have names, and so Japanese drivers were early adopters of car navigation systems. Now Honda Motor Co has designed a brand-new navigation system, but this one is for your shoes.

Called Ashirase, outwardly the system looks like a pair of gadgets you clip to your shoes’ tongues. The entire devices, however, actually look more like sandals, though they’re mostly hidden from view since they slide inside your shoes.

The system works in conjunction with a smartphone app, where you set your destination before you set off on your pedestrian journey. Once you’re under way, sensors allow the system to determine your current position, and it gives you directions along the way via vibrations in your shoes.

The straps of the device are outfitted with an array compact oscillators, and firing up different sectors indicates different directions. When the section on the side of your left foot vibrates, for example, that means “Turn left,” and rumbling along the outside edge of your right foot is “Turn right.” About to go too far and miss your turning point? Vibrations all over both feet are the “Stop” signal, and once you’ve got yourself facing the right direction, a tingling over both sets of toes lets you know to move forward.

If the system requires a smartphone, though, why not just use any number of other GPS navigation apps, you might be wondering. The answer is that Ashirase is being designed with the needs of visually impaired people in mind. For those with poor eyesight or other ocular issues, checking your smartphone screen in an outdoor/outside your home environment can be difficult or even impossible, Being hands-free means Ashirase doesn’t cause problems for those walking with a white cane, and the guidance vibrations replacing verbal instructions eliminate the need to wear an earphone and hinder the user’s ability to hear the surrounding environment, an important safety concern for people unable to see cars or other potential hazards.

Honda is developing the system in conjunction with a new company, also called Ashirase, that the automaker helped in the establishment of, and hopes to bring it to market sometime in 2022.