Content localization

Why Content Localization Matters?

Are you expanding your business to reach new customers? If your company is looking to expand internationally, content localization is essential.

While the answer will vary depending on the business, there are still obvious proof points to assist you to establish the business value of translation and developing a sound localization strategy for your company.

Especially in this new digital-first era, content localization may generate relevance in the eyes of each market’s consumers. It also strengthens links of engagement and brand loyalty, which are crucial during times of disruption and normality. However, for maximum impact, a content localization strategy must include more than just translation. Providing authentic, resonant relevance to each market and its consumers necessitates hyperlocal execution on multiple fronts, from the technical to the cultural.

Saying that content is king is no longer adequate. The delivery of a customized message that efficiently meets the needs of local consumers is referred to as localized internet content. If you want to promote your brand and attract potential clients, you should employ a localized strategy rather than a one-size-fits-all approach to web marketing.

But don’t be concerned. Localized internet content is not as difficult as it appears. If you provide items or services in a certain geographic area, chances are you’ve previously used it in your marketing to provide relevant information to your customers.

What Content Localization?

Localization is the process of matching your material to a customer’s cultural expectations. It extends the concept of context beyond simply translating words. Localization, at its foundation, helps your customers engage with your brand on a deeper level and increases their likelihood of purchasing. It may also involve picture or color changes, formatting, UI or design changes, and even payment methods, to mention a few.

The process of adjusting existing content to the cultural expectations of the client whose territory you want to address is known as content localization.

It may appear that translation is sufficient for localization. Everywhere you go, people are the same. The translation is insufficient. You must consider every element, from the uniqueness of the language and cultural values to the attitude in general.

Localization holds significant power. It can help your company get a competitive advantage, expand your market, avoid liability, and develop a strong global brand. So, let’s look at how you can keep localization in mind while creating content.

To establish brand loyalty, you will, of course, require a large amount of material that is ready to be localized for different markets. Depending on how much content you require, the amount of localization required might easily add up. For example, if you aim to target three buyer personas with content and localize it for five languages, you’re investing time and resources to create one piece of content in fifteen distinct ways.

Here are just a few of the different types of content you can localize:

Content for User Interfaces

Your user interface (UI) content is concerned with how visitors interact with your website. Do you know how you test, adjust and retest material to ensure a decent user experience? That is the UI material you will most likely need to localize. As a result, you’ll require the assistance of someone with technical experience to assist with the localization process.

Technical Content

You’ll require a localization professional with extensive knowledge in the sector for technical content like user guides and product demos. Documents such as user guides frequently contain critical safety information, so don’t take any chances when it comes to locating someone with suitable skills to assist you with translating and localizing them.

Games Content

Do you recall how bad the translations were on certain video games back in the 1980s? There is just no excuse for bad localization these days. In order for a game to reach its maximum potential, its localization must be flawless, whether it’s in-game dialogue, menu selections, or any other text that displays on the screen.

Generic Content

Finally, there’s the generic material that so many companies create as part of their engagement strategy. Blog entries and news pieces, for example, sometimes require only a light touch when it comes to localization, though most require more than just translation.

Importance of Content Localization

There are a few simple things you can do when writing English content to make translation easier for foreign markets. You may, for example, try using controlled, natural language. When combined with a global content strategy, content localization provides clear insights into prices, timelines, and budgetary consequences. It promotes a long-term approach to global corporate reach and aids in lead creation and customer retention.

It is important to use both strategy and localization. They serve consumers from various cultural and linguistic backgrounds with content that evokes the same reaction as native content. This results in increased trust, dependability, and curiosity, as well as a favorable influence across diverse cultures and global marketplaces.

If you want to expand globally, incorporating localization into your business plan will help you overcome cultural obstacles and ease entry into new markets. But the job isn’t finished. Understanding the significance of localization is only the first step.

You must now consider implementation and locating the best technology to maximize your efforts, which may require some convincing to your company’s stakeholders. But don’t worry, we’ve got just the piece to assist you to make your case for a localization strategy.

10 Best Selling Consumer Products in Japan

The consumer society we live in is rapidly changing and the outcome is often surprising. Economic conditions affect our shopping habits and it seems that now we’re being smarter when it comes to spending money.  It appears that we are no longer buying things we don’t need as much as we used to and we don’t do it impulsively but we rather think twice before paying for something. However, this does not mean that we now avoid shopping at all costs or that we shop less, it is simply that consumers are now careful how they spend their money.

 Japanese consumers were not very likely to spend much time at home a few years ago, but now, according to a survey, 46% of them prefer spending time at home. We reviewed the market research in Japan, and we made a list of products and products categories that recorded the highest sales growth last year. We present to you the 10 best-selling consumer products in Japan.

10. Bath And Shower

These products can hardly decline in sales despite the poor economic conditions in many countries. Such is the situation in Japan too, where there is a great demand for bath and shower products that contain skincare benefits. They have seen a strong performance lately as consumers want their bath and shower products to be efficient as well as fragrant, for example, mineral-rich bath salts or antibacterial liquid soap.

9. Organic Beverages

Due to the latest trends and people becoming more concerned about their health and the ingredients found in the food and drinks, organic beverages are in demand in recent years, with 1% growth in value terms. However, most of the organic products in Japan are imported and organic production in this country remains limited, according to the market research.

8. Sports Nutrition

Sports Nutrition deserved a place on our list of best selling consumer products in Japan, as it saw a 2% value growth last year and sales reached JPY 24 billion. This is largely due to the fact that more people are now physically active and do sport. It is expected that sales will continue to grow at a modest 1% rate in the future.

7. Vitamins And Dietary Supplements

Among the most popular consumer products in Japan are also vitamins and dietary supplements. According to the research, vitamins and dietary supplements recorded a 2% increase last year, and it is expected that in the future it will continue to grow reaching sales of JPY 1,181 billion.

6. Video Games

Video games remain one of the best selling consumer products in Japan with a 2% current value increase, according to the research. Sales reached JPY 1.4 trillion last year, which is a major improvement compared to the previous years. Sony’s PlayStation 4 and Nintendo Classic Mini are the leaders of this sales growth, and it is predicted that it will remain this way in the future.

5.Writing Instruments

Even though consumers everywhere are now switching to convenient digital devices, unlike in many other countries, writing instruments in Japan continue to record sales growth in 2017. Japanese consumers continue to buy high-quality writing instruments despite the economic downturn, and this may have something to do with the fact that consumers get attached to writing instruments regarded as personal items.

4. Organic Food

Organic products seem to be a worldwide trend that is becoming more and more popular among consumers. Concerned about their health, consumers rush to buy organic food in their attempt to decrease the number of harmful ingredients. They are now more careful about the ingredients found in the food, and Japanese consumers are among them. Organic packaged food saw a value growth of 2% in 2016.

3. Watches

Although watches saw a serious decline of 13% last year, the category recovered and saw a value growth of 2% in 2017. 2016 was a tough year for watches as only a few brands saw a positive growth, but this year the situation changed, and it is expected that there will be a steady growth for the rest of the year too. Luxury products are becoming popular again and so the average unit price of watches is going to increase.

2. Organic Coffee

For many of us, coffee is the most important beverage with which we start every day. Organic coffee is among the most popular and best-selling organic beverages in Japan. Coffee lovers who are concerned about what they are drinking are switching to a healthier alternative which is organic coffee. Organic coffee saw 3% value growth in 2016.

1. Ready Meals

For working men and women, it seems quite impossible to find time to prepare a homemade meal every day. That’s where ready meals come into the picture, with a positive sales growth of 4% in 2016 reaching the top of our list of 10 best-selling consumer products in Japan. Consumers everywhere seek convenient solutions and so they turn to ready meals to save time. This is also encouraged by the growing number of single-person households.

export impoty

A Complete Guide to HSCode for Imports and Exports

HS Codes play an important role in international imports and exports. The HS code system can be pretty frustrating when you encounter it for the first time. They are 6-10 digit codes assigned to specific goods by customs authorities. These codes are used all around the world, making cargo easily identifiable and ensuring the seamless delivery of goods from Point A to Point B.

Before the Harmonized System was established, global trade compliance was a bit chaotic. Each item had to be classified depending on the country’s different tariff systems. The HS code system was introduced in 1988. This system simplifies the process of classifying goods globally. The HS Code system was developed to enable users to easily calculate and implement various taxes and duties. It also allows users to monitor and control various trade agreements.

If you’re looking to understand more about what HS Codes are and how they are relevant to your import or export, you’re in the right place.

What are HS codes?

The HS code system is a set of uniform, internationally recognized codes used to identify products for import purposes. Each code consists of at least six digits, often followed by optional extra digits, that precisely identify what a product is, based on its specific features, components, purpose, and other criteria.

Customs authorities check these codes on the documentation accompanying imported products. They do this for a number of reasons including:

  • determining tax and tariff rules that may apply for importing the products
  • ensuring that the imported products are not banned due to import restrictions
  • monitoring trade statistics

The code system is extremely detailed. That’s why it’s so effective. But it’s also why it can be so complicated to use when you’re still getting used to it.

Just imagine: the code system covers up to 98% of all products shipped in international commerce. When you consider how many different products there are on the global market, whether it’s jelly beans or paper cocktail umbrellas, you start to realize how extensive the HS code system is.

In short, when crossing most international borders, all products need to identify using the right HS code. Think of HS codes as your company’s password to entering the gate to a foreign market.

What does an HS code look like?

Each HS code consists of at least six digits, usually written in the format ‘XXXX.XX’.

These six digits combine three sets of the hierarchical two-digit codes used in the HS code system. For shippers, the process of finding the right HS code for your product starts with the Section numbers.

There are thousands of HS Codes, and each code describes specific goods. All customs agencies are able to identify these goods easily using the number associated with the particular commodity.

Take umbrellas for example. The digit “6601.91” is the HS code for umbrellas which have a telescopic shaft. But the digit “6601.99” is the HS code for ‘other umbrellas and sun umbrellas’.

Take potatoes as another example. Fresh or chilled potatoes will be classified as 0701.90. But frozen potatoes will go under the code 0710.10.

Each code has a unique structure as follows:

  • A six-digit identification code
  • Five thousand commodity groups
  • Those groups feature 99 chapters
  • The chapters themselves then have 21 sections

The code is structured and logical, stemming from the Kyoto Convention of 1974. A useful example to look at is as follows:

  • Section II of the HS Codes are ‘Vegetable Products’
  • Chapter 10 of Section II is entitled ‘Cereals’
  • Heading 06 of Chapter 10 is then called ‘Rice’
  • Subheading 30 of Heading 06 is then very specifically called ‘Semi-milled or wholly milled rice, whether or not polished or glazed’.

The HS Code given to this particular good is 1006.30. That digit reflects the product’s chapter, heading and subheading to form a unique digit recognised by customs authorities on an international basis. Think of the code as being split three groups of two numbers: the first group of two broadly categorises the product. The second two define the classification and the third group specifies the actual product.

There are approximately 5,300 of these codes in circulation. More than 98% of internationally traded goods rely on the HS Code system for their classification.

Why are HS Codes important?

So, now that you know what HS codes are and how to use them, you may be wondering: why are HS codes important? What difference does it make if you use the right code or not? The answer is: it makes a lot of difference, from a legal standpoint as well as from a business point of view.

The most prominent detail HS codes communicate for you as the importer is the taxes and duties applied to the shipment. However, other than the important information mentioned earlier, HS codes can also communicate data such as the origin of the goods, the eligibility of the products under Free Trade Agreements, compliance requirements, and assist in monitoring prohibited or restricted goods.

As the carriers of so much essential information, it is clear that these codes are critical in ensuring all shipments are treated correctly.

Where do I need to use HS Codes in shipping?

When shipping freight, it’s integral that you use the relevant HS Code on each line on your commercial invoice.

Using an HS Code on a commercial invoice ensures that exports make it through customs seamlessly and without delay. That way, importers will receive their goods faster and exporters are paid sooner. Failure to place the HS Code on the commercial invoice could risk the importer paying the incorrect tax. You also may end up paying interest on any back-payments for incorrect classification, and your goods may even be seized.

How do I find the right HS Code for my shipment?

There are several HS code Lookup sites that claim to help you find HS codes. However, due to the potential for fines and stuck shipments, if there are errors, you should ensure you vet HS code finders before using them.

The full breakdown of each chapter, like this HS code list detailing chapter 85, can also be found through the World Customs Organization, but deciphering this document is not simple and takes a significant time commitment. Inexperience in finding the correct code could result in you mistakenly using the incorrect code, which would have dire consequences for your shipment.

In exporting, from which country of HS code shall be used?

When exporting, the HS Code relevant to the country of export shall be declared on the export declaration.

Using the right HS codes always pays off

While the HS code system may seem like a headache to international retailers, it is actually a powerful tool for getting your merchandise onto the international market. Instead of seeing the HS system as a complicated legal formality, see it as a way of making sure your products get to your customers faster.

As a result of correctly using HS codes, you’ll keep your international customers satisfied and avoid unnecessary delays and expenses.

If you need any help in understanding Japan Import Compliance, COVUE is the best place to go. Contact us today to learn more.

Driving Digital at the Speed of Expectation

Ever wonder why the term “digital” has become one of the biggest technology buzzwords? After all, we’ve had digital technology for over a half century, since the first commercially available computer correctly predicted that Eisenhower would win a landslide victory in the 1952 presidential election. Since then, we’ve been on a digital transformation journey that has fueled nearly every advancement in modern history.

So, why the renewed fascination with digital transformation?

To answer this, we must look beyond technology and understand the fundamental shift in consumer attitudes and behaviors that have accelerated technology adoption and given rise to a powerful new force: the speed of expectation. Only by understanding the consumer side of digital can we truly appreciate the groundbreaking implications of the digital economy and the tools, strategies and mindset required to lead it.

So, what exactly is “digital” anyway?

Unlike previous advancements where a singular invention, like electricity, brought about radical change, today’s digital revolution is characterized by a fusion of technologies that include social, mobile, cloud, internet of things (IoT), Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning (ML) and a slew of others. By themselves, these technologies are not revolutionary. But together, they have created a powerful set of force multipliers whose combined effect is creating a new reality to which every company must adapt.

The intersection of these four forces is the essence of present-day digital:

Pervasive connectivity – Through IoT and social technologies, people are more connected now. Not only are people connected to other people, but also to devices, and those devices are connected to each other.

Extensive mobility – Mobile has put the power of computing in our pockets, giving us the freedom to “plug in” from anywhere at any time. This enables a world that is always on and accessible.

Scale on-demand – The digital economy runs on big data that requires massive computing power and storage. Cloud services provide unlimited power and the flexibility to adjust resource consumption as needed.

Intelligent machines – Machines and software don’t have to rely on human programmers anymore. Instead, they use AI/ML to sift through massive datasets and learn to solve problems on their own.

Behind the scenes

While digital technology is disrupting the global economy, there’s another more subtle phenomenon happening behind the scenes with consumers. Every advancement throughout history, from the steam engine to the internet, has taken years to gain mass adoption and establish a lasting impact on society. It’s hard to imagine now, but electricity took 46 years before it became the primary source of power. After centuries of technology advancing ahead of human capability, consumers have finally caught up and are now demanding better experiences.

Be careful when the belt is in motion

This cycle of continuous disruption is reminiscent of an episode of I Love Lucy in which Lucy and Ethel were tasked with wrapping candy on a fast-moving conveyor belt. At first, the pace was manageable. But as the belt sped up, the women became overwhelmed and resorted to stuffing candy in their mouths. Fortunately for Lucy and Ethel, the factory foreman intervened to turn off the belt. The cycle of digital innovation, however, has no such safety valve. Companies not only have to contend with developing better user experiences, but they must do it at the speed of expectation.

Simply put

Half a century later, the digital revolution is still going strong. Today, the technology is vastly different — smarter, faster, more accessible and connected. But more disruptive than the technology itself is the unrelenting pace of innovation and the consumer adoption and empowerment accompanying it. Viewing digital transformation through this customer-focused lens, perhaps the essence of digital is more appropriately reduced to just one sentence: Your company is becoming digital if it is able to continuously deliver better customer experiences at the speed of expectation.

Notice there’s no mention of technology. Instead, the focus is on creating value continuously at a pace that aligns with consumer expectations. Technology plays an important role, but to be effective it must be matched with adjustments in organizational mindset, competency and agility.

Consider each component of this definition:

Continuous delivery can’t be achieved without an iterative development model with short deployment cycles measured in weeks — not months and years. This requires revamping organizational skills and adopting new processes for resource allocation and funding.

Better customer experience can’t be delivered using only the narrow lens of surveys and focus groups to gather insights. Companies must learn to use the social web to engage customers in co-creation activities that cultivate mutual value and earn trust. This too requires unique competencies that must be developed or acquired.

Operating at the speed of expectation requires an agile computing environment that can scale and pivot quickly. It also requires a flatter organization to expedite decision making and push it closer to where value is created and captured.

In all these examples, it’s clear digital’s disruptive forces present more of a challenge in adapting mindset than adopting new tools. Using digital-age tools with an industrial-age mindset may provide short-term gains, but won’t lead to better customer experiences that endure.

Technology will always come and go. What is here to stay is the giant leap in speed and agility required to succeed in a customer-centric economy.

japan work

Is Japan Actually A Hard Working Country

Japan as a whole has a reputation for being a hard-working country, with a strict work ethic and loyal employees. However, whether or not this dedication pays off in the country’s productivity is debatable, when comparing Japan to parts of the world less known for their worth ethic but still manage high productivity.

Japan Work the Same Hours as Everyone Else

According to OECD statistics, in 2020, the average worker in Japan puts in around 1,644 hours per year, compared to 1,779 hours in the United States, 1,538 hours in the United Kingdom, and 1,384 hours in Norway.

This number along with average weekly figures has been decreasing steadily since the 1980s, influenced partially by labor laws limiting overtime and work hours.

While hours are shortening overall, though, certain groups of employees in the labor force are still working long hours. Full-time, regular employees who work directly for their company are more likely to work overtime due to a mixture of social pressure from coworkers and their supervisors. Unfortunately, this can even result in karoshi or “death from overwork” related to heart or brain complications from a lack of sleep and rest. Karoshi usually makes headlines in Japan and internationally at least once a year.

Japanese Workers have many Unused Vacation Days

If you’ve ever worked at a Japanese company or Japanese school before, you have probably wished for more vacation days. Most employers will grant the current legal minimum of ten days of paid vacation to first-year employees, and no more.

However, despite this relatively low number of paid vacation days, most other employees will have barely touched them. This may be due to a combination of pressure from their company, cultural norms, and guilt. National statistics from 2018 show that only 52.4% of employees took their allotted paid leave.

A law that went into effect in 2019 now makes it mandatory for employees to take at least five days off per year. However, whether or not this will help workers actually take off is a separate question.

Nomikai and Mandatory Company Bonding

The amount of time that most coworkers spend together in Japan extends beyond just the office. Nomikai, or drinking parties, along with other types of company socializing, like golf and sports competitions, are a regular part of many professionals’ schedules. This constant socializing and activity is often compulsory or feels that way too many employees.

Drinking with coworkers and socializing can be entertaining and exciting, of course, but at the end of the day, these activities are an extension of work.

So, are the Japanese Really Hard Workers?

Cultural practices and societal expectations place a lot of pressure on workers in Japan to put a lot of time and energy into whatever they do for their employer. In terms of productivity measurements like GDP, however, it’s difficult to tell if all the effort is productive for Japan’s economy. It could be, though, that economic gain is not the only way to measure the benefits of having a dedicated and diligent workforce.

When in Tokyo, forget everything you know about 7-Elevens and convenience stores

The first time can be disorienting. You walk past shelves brimming with instant ramen — curry, seafood, chili tomato — all in packages of bright red, orange and yellow.

Deep-fried rice crackers and soy-flavored potato chips fill another aisle, not far from a bewildering selection of sugary candies and a dozen brands of sake.

The refrigerated section occupies the entire back wall: tofu bars, udon with shredded beef, steamed chicken and broccoli in onion dressing, boiled eggs sprinkled with tuna and bonito flakes.

There are so many carefully prepared meals, glistening in their clear plastic containers, it is difficult to focus. How fresh are they? Some don’t have expiration dates — they have expiration hours.

All of which makes you blink your eyes and look back over your shoulder to double-check the familiar green, red and orange sign you passed on the way in.

Yes, this is a 7-Eleven.

Eating can be troublesome at the Summer Olympics. Journalists, sports officials and support staff work ungodly long days, the dining choices at arenas and stadiums limited to soft drinks and hamburgers.

Tokyo’s omnipresent convenience stores — known as konbini — have extended a lifeline to some 42,000 accredited foreigners who converged here for the Games. This kind of selection, this degree of quality, in a store still open when you return to your hotel past midnight, isn’t just convenience. It’s paradise.

Aside from the glare of fluorescent lighting and omnipresent coffee machines, konbini have little in common with their American counterparts.

Estimates place their number on this island nation between 50,000 and 60,000; they abound in Tokyo, averaging about eight per square mile, with 7-Eleven, FamilyMart and Lawson as the most common chains.

Though not especially large, these stores are packed with a startling range of goods. Where else can you buy concert tickets, men’s underwear and tuna mayo onigiri wrapped in savory seaweed while also paying your monthly utility bill?

On a Friday afternoon, a team official from Thailand perused the toiletries section where a pair of quality nail clippers can be had for a few dollars. The ATMs often accept foreign debit and credit cards.

But packaged meals and delicacies are where these stores truly shine, with so much more than ever-rotating hot dogs and re-warmed chicken strips. The selection changes constantly, new arrivals announced weekly on the internet, anticipated with the same fervor otherwise reserved for the release of Yeezy sneakers or an album drop.

Featured items during the final days of the Games included plump sea urchin rice bowls and pork yakiniku bento with onion sauce. 7-Elevens, owned by a Japanese corporation, have collaborated with Michelin star restaurants on Tsuta Ramen and other instant noodles.

“The quality is next level,” says Kaila Imada, a senior editor for the multiplatform Time Out Tokyo, who has written connoisseur’s guides to the konbini. “You can find dinner there and it will be a top-notch dinner.”

Not everything is fancy — the late food critic Anthony Bourdain once raved about Lawson’s egg-salad sandwich.

“So I’ve given up many vices in my life, many shameful, filthy, guilty pleasures that I used to like that I just don’t do anymore. Cocaine, heroin, prostitutes, the musical styling of Steven Tyler,” he said during his “Parts Unknown” series on CNN. “One thing I just can’t give up. One thing I keep coming back to every time I come back to Japan.”

Bourdain referred to the plastic-wrapped sandos — as they are called here — as “pillows of love.”

The initial jolt is more than visual. This immersive experience begins at the sliding glass doors as you leave the city’s heat behind, stepping into a blast of air conditioning. Music plays from hidden speakers, accompanied by a symphony of commerce.

As Japanese author Sayaka Murata writes in her novel “Convenience Store Woman”:

A convenience store is a world of sound. From the tinkle of the door chime to the voices of TV celebrities advertising new products over the in-store cable network, to the calls of the store workers, the beeps of the bar code scanner, the rustle of customers picking up items and placing them in baskets, and the clacking of heels walking around the store. It all blends into the convenience store sound that ceaselessly caresses my eardrums …

A convenience store is not merely a place where customers come to buy practical necessities. It has to be somewhere they can enjoy and take pleasure in discovering things they like.

This public communion draws congregants of all ages and demographics. In the morning, salarymen with their pressed white shirts and briefcases wait in line behind kids getting something to eat before school. Workers in blue coveralls stop by for lunch. Dinnertime? Be prepared to wait.

A love of konbini and its community spurred two Americans living in Japan, Michael Markey and Matthew Savas, to start a podcast last year. “Conbini Boys,” which uses an alternate spelling, has grown to 62 episodes.

“It’s structural to Japanese society,” Savas, who has since moved back to the U.S., says of the stores. “You’ll see all kinds of people going to a konbini.”

The prices are reasonable, with meals costing $3 to $6. A dollar buys a puck-sized korokke — or croquette — with a blend of potato and beef that tastes both sweet and savory. People can rely on the stores to be open, no matter what.

“We call them our local superheroes,” Imada says. “They’re always there for us, 24 hours a day, whatever you need … they’re always open regardless of rain, shine or typhoon.”

Shinichi Mine and Satoshi Tanaka, whose “TabiEats” YouTube channel has more than 500,000 subscribers, visited Los Angeles before the pandemic and decided to sample breakfast at an American 7-Eleven. They were in for a surprise.

“It says fresh fruits on the container, but actually it wasn’t fresh. It was actually previously frozen because the fruits were soggy and bad,” Mine said. “Even the breakfast sandwich was soggy for some reason.”

“Why can’t a simple thing like this be a bit better?” he asked. “It’s kind of strange.”

The bottom line might be part of the answer.

Because they throw out fresh items that aren’t sold quickly enough, konbini account for part of an estimated 640,000 tons of food wasted annually in Japan, according to a 2019 report by the NHK news service. Lawson and 7-Eleven started programs to discount items close to their expiration time.

The U.S. business model favors a longer, more-profitable shelf life. American convenience stores, often linked to gas stations, have conditioned customers to expect something different, as in Flamin’ Hot Cheetos and Red Vines.

“In the U.S., the idea of convenience is linked not only to the idea of quick, but also cheap,” Linda Hagen, an assistant professor who studies consumer behavior at USC’s Marshall School of Business, wrote in an email. “So this close mental association that convenience equals fast, cheap, unhealthy is a big part of why convenience stores offer the assortments they do.”

With coronavirus cases surging in Tokyo, foreigners have been asked to limit interaction with the populace, but convenience stores have been a conspicuous exception. Pump bottles of sanitizer are stationed at the entrance and plastic sheets hang in front of registers.

No fluency in Japanese is required; checkout counters feature large touch screens that guide customers through transactions. With a minimum of pointing, a typically patient clerk shows an Uzbek journalist how to feed coins into the cash slot and everyone has learned to gesture if they need a plastic bag. Not all meals have English on the label, so people crowd around the refrigerated shelves, scrutinizing the fried rice and beef dishes, grabbing whatever looks good.

The mention of convenience stores among Americans here prompts smiles and starts everyone chattering about their favorite purchases. Savas rhapsodizes about shopping at a konbini early on, trying a dish called chiki, which is boneless chicken from a hot box.

“I distinctly remember sitting in my car, biting into it and a gush of juice bursting out of the chicken, splashing my glasses and clothes,” he said. “From that day forward, I was a changed man.”

Each visit offers so many choices, so many opportunities for something you have never tasted before. Growing bolder with experience, you might reach for deep-fried fish paste or smoked gizzards.

The first time at a konbini, though, can be tough.

Your eyes dart from package to package as the theme song from “The Little Mermaid” tinkles in the background. All those shapes and textures, the Japanese characters in bold type. So many colors — crimson, chartreuse, neon yellow — you don’t normally associate with food.

The first time, you might just reach for the egg-salad sandwich.

Japan Diaper Brand

6 Most Popular Nappy Brands Made in Japan

During the 1973 oil crisis, toilet papers disappeared from every supermarket, says my mother who had me, her third child, in Yokohama in 1969. At that time paper diapers weren’t all that common yet. Japanese Nappies 6 Most Popular Nappy Brands Made in Japan!

Today Japanese nappies are disappearing quickly like toilet papers in the 1970s. Why? Well, it looks like our neighbours in Asia love our dippers so much that hundreds of thousands of Japanese nappies are being shipped out of Japan to our neighbouring countries on a daily basis. Our store also receives many inquiries and orders for Japanese nappies come in almost on a daily basis. Not familiar with this nappy frenzy? Here is a quick guide to six most popular Japanese baby diapers and what makes them so good.

No.1 – Pumpers

Judging from internet surveys, baby magazines and other relevant data, this year’s most popular nappy brand went to Pumpers. Pumpers has become a synonym for paper nappies in Japan for quite some time.

Pumpers is the most used nappy at hospitals. Pumpers do not only cater for Japanese babies, but they are designed to fit babies overseas, too. The quality of its products can be experienced in terms of its perfect ventilation system, perfect softness of the materials and, the most impressive of all, its super power of absorption via high density polymer.

In fact Pumpers are much more expensive than other brands. Yet, they have stayed on top and the number one nappy brand for decades.

No.2 – Merries

Merries is ranked the second most popular nappy brand in Japan. In terms of demands overseas, however, Merries is perhaps the most popular Japanese nappy brand internationally. Merries is the most difficult nappy to obtain in Japan and overseas.

Like Pumpers, Merries’ ventilation system is amazing and highly speedy. So babies are less likely to develop rashes and won’t experience leakage.

The only problem that has been pointed out is the amount of absorption. So some mothers have expressed their concerns that there is a leakage when used for a long time, such as at night. But this is very rarely the case, and if you are concerned, try a different brand only at night.

No.3 – Moony

Moony is highly popular and ranked third most popular this year. Mothers’ report how easy it is to change nappies with Moony’s products. Users of Moony’s are actually very loyal and stick to the brand from newborn to the time the babies do not need nappies. Moony prevents leakage and skin trouble. Most impressive of all, however, is the easiness of use.

Moony has high absorption and stretches so well that it’s perfect for babies starting to eat solid food. Moony’s nappies for newborn to Small size are designed to catch even the loosest poo. These functions were in fact developed from consumers’ suggestions.

Another reason Moony kept its third place this year is its attractive and competitive pricing. Given Moony’s flexibility and willingness to change and develop new features, Moony can beat the top two in the near future.

No.4 – Goo.N

With its high quality and, most of all, its low price, Goo.N has become increasingly popular and is chosen as the fourth most popular nappy brand in Japan.

Goo.N is priced really already low, but you can get them even more cheaply if you bulk buy them. “Cheap is bad” mentality doesn’t apply to Goo.N. Its absorption area has vitamin E and it has a highly functional, soft band which keeps the nappy on properly.

The major difference between Goo.N and other nappy brands is the shape. Goo.N nappies are designed thinner, but they are highly functional in terms of absorption and ventilation, causing very little skin problem. Thus Goo.N is considered as the ‘best performing nappy brand’ in Japan.

No.5 – Genki!

Nepia’s most popular brand used to be “Do Re Mi”. It had a reputation as ‘the cheap but okay nappies that can’t be used when babies have soft poo’. Given these criticisms, Nepia has introduced “Genki” which has improved all the problem functions Do Re Mi used to have.

Nepia developed this amazing system whereby poo and pee are absorbed differently. Genki nappies are much thicker than Do Re Mi. However, Genki does not have the Do Re Mi’s attractive price, thus being ranked as the fifth most popular nappy.

The most popular type of Genki! is the pants type, which catch a large amount of poo.

No.6 – MamyPoko

MamyPoko is this year 6th most popular nappy in Japan. Many consumers seem to think that MamyPoko ‘looks good’ and ‘cheap’, but has the least functionality among all the major brands. Most users of MamyPoko do not use the brand exclusively, but rather mix up MamyPoko with other types of brands.

As a nappy, MamyPoko does not seem to be considered as trustworthy by consumers. But, MamyPoko remains relatively popular because they are sold with a significant discount from time to time and some of the MamyPoko nappies are designed compact and easy to carry outside. MamyPoko is also popular among parents of larger babies.

Most of MamyPoko users use other brands as the main nappy.

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!

5 Best Places to Buy Japanese Cosmetics, Makeup and Beauty Products

Being beautiful is one of the top priorities for millions of individuals around the world. But consumers who want to be beautiful and careful of their skin at the same time tend to choose Japanese cosmetics. They have earned the trust of domestic as well as international customers, and today, few would ask, “What’s Shiseido?” Sure, Japanese beauty products are often pricier than Chinese or Korean cosmetics. But you know that cheap products could be harmful and damages can be permanent. What’s more important? 5 Best Places to Buy Japanese Cosmetics, Makeup and Beauty Products.

For those lucky enough to be heading to the land of SK-II, Shiseido, FANCL, Kao and Kanebo, we’ve put together 5 best places to buy Japanese cosmetics. If you consider yourself as shopaholic for Japanese beauty products, be warned – there is no stopping once you are in any of the best 5 places below!

No. 5 Drug Stores

Japanese drug stores are nothing like those in your own country. They are more like, hm, a theme park with millions of drugs, beauty cosmetics, accessories, clothes, bath products, health & diet food, energy drinks, sanitary goods and more.

Major chain drug stores include: Matsumoto KiyoshiSeijo KokokaraFineTsuruha and Sugi Drug Store. There you will never run out of beauty products to buy in Japan. Btw, many of them in major cities are duty-free, so take your passport with you when shopping at drug stores.

No. 4 Convenience Stores

If you have little time left to buy Japanese beauty products, convenience stores will come to save you from your shopping disaster. Locally called “Convini”, Japanese convenience stores are literally everywhere from super remote areas to airports, and never ever underestimate convini.

Not only do they have regular Japanese beauty and cosmetic products, but they also produce their own brands as well as products in collaboration with major Japanese cosmetic brands.

For example, Seven Eleven has its own brand, ParaDO, as well as collaboration beauty and skincare products with FANCL, Botanical Force. mfc is a beauty cosmetics series produced by Kanebo exclusively for Family Mart, which also has an exclusive rights to sell MUJI products including their cosmetics.

So don’t panic even if you don’t have time to shop anywhere else – Japanese conviniwill always be there for you.

No. 3 Discount Stores

Another great place to buy Japanese cosmetics are discount stores. The most famous in Japan is Don Quixote, or locally called Donki. They are pretty much everywhere in major and not so major cities in Japan, including Shinjuku, Asakusa, Ikebukuro, Shibuya and Yokohama. It’s easy to shop at Donki as they often have multilingual signs, explaining each product. Each shop has different discounted items, so check out a few different shops if you have time.

Same as drug stores above, Donki shops in major touristy areas are duty-free. For electric products, brand goods, and watches and jewelries, purchase over 10,001 yen is duty-free. For consumable goods such as food, beverages, drugs and cosmetics, purchase over 5,001 yen becomes duty-free.

The other excellent discount shop to buy Japanese cosmetics from is Daiso. While some cosmetic items are made in Japan, most of Daiso products are designed by and produced for Daiso overseas. Also, it’s a 100 yen shop after all, so they don’t carry upmarket cosmetics for high end customers. If you are after 100 yen fake eyelashes or black charcoal facial mask made in China, Daiso is the place.

No. 2 Department Stores

If you are looking for the latest models of high quality cosmetics, and expect the five star customer service, then head to IsetanMitsukoshiTakashimayaMatsuzakaya and Matsuya. Slightly lesser status, but still extremely sophisticated customer service can be found at SogoKeioOdakyuTokyuLaLaport and Prince PePe. You’ll find the first floor of these department stores dedicated to top end Japanese and international cosmetics.

Shinjuku Isetan is the most exclusive and popular department stores in the entire country. So hit Shinjuku Isetan if you can at all cost, and try Shinjuku Takashimaya afterwards. Shopping Japanese cosmetics at department stores in the exclusive Ginza district of Tokyo is also an exhilarating experience. Ginza Mitsukoshi and Matsuya are perfect places to get pampered in a Ginza style.

No. 1 Online Shops

If you are not going to travel to the land of Shiseido anytime soon, or forgot to buy certain Japanese beauty products, online shops are only one click away. There are many cosmetics online shops that sell Japanese beauty products, and we also have a variety of Japanese beauty and skincare products:-)

We only sell made in Japan cosmetics and skincare products, and if you don’t see what you are looking for at our shop, we’ll be more than happy to go and look for you!

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!

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!