DAISO

Popular Japanese 100-yen store Daiso now has an online shop

You can now shop for 30,000 products all day, every day – if you’re in Japan

Daiso is a great place to shop for, well, pretty much anything. Need kitchen or tableware? Daiso. Boxes, folders, and bins to keep your home organized? Daiso. Socks, mittens, and caps to keep you warm? Daiso. Seasonal decorations? You guessed it: Daiso.

If anything, the beloved 100 yen store chain might have too much cool stuff. Daiso’s product lineup is far too extensive for any one shop to stock all of it, so you might not be able to find the exact thing you’re looking for at your local branch. Thankfully, though, there’s now a Daiso that not only has tens of thousands of items, but is even open 24 hours a day, thanks to the opening of the Daiso online shop.

The store’s full version launched on October 13. Just like in the chain’s physical stores, it’s filled with treasures that cost just 100 yen each. There are roughly 30,000 to choose from, with the website allowing you to search for specific items by name or browse through various categories.

High-rollers in the prefectures of Saitama, Ibaraki, Tochigi, Gunma, Hokkaido, Aomori, Fukushima, Miyagi, Akita, Iwate, and Yamagata can also order around 6,000 different items from Daiso’s 300-yen Threeppy sub-brand.

Items can be purchased individually, but you do need to put together a total bundle of at least 1,650 yen. Shipping is 770 yen for almost all of Japan, with the exceptions of Hokkaido (880 yen) and Okinawa (2,970 or 3,300 yen, depending on exact location). However, orders of 11,000 yen or over qualify for free shipping, so pooling your Daiso desires with those of a few friends into a single bundle should get you over that hurdle.

Shop DAISO here https://www.daisojapan.com/

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.

Facebook and Ray-Ban debut ‘smart’ shades

Facebook and iconic eyewear brand Ray-Ban on Thursday launched their new smart glasses, the latest effort in a tricky, niche market but which the social media giant sees as a step toward its future.

The “Ray-Ban Stories” shades can take pictures and video upon the wearer’s voice commands, and the frames can connect wirelessly to Facebook’s platform through an app.

“We took our Wayfarer (frames), born in 1952, and we reinvented the design squeezing in some cool technology,” said Fabio Borsoi, global research, and design director at the EssilorLuxottica group, Ray-Ban’s maker.

Facebook is wading into a market that has already seen 2013’s Google Glass, which sparked a privacy backlash over built-in cameras and prompted the tech titan to pivot its focus for the device away from the general public.

Messaging app Snapchat has also released its camera-equipped Spectacles, but they are pricey and have struggled to catch on broadly with tech lovers.

Notably, the Ray-Ban Stories glasses will not have augmented reality features — technology that can mesh online computing with visual cues such as mapping or face recognition.

Instead, the shades are an early step toward efforts to create futuristic eyewear that adds to real-world views with data or graphics from the internet, Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg has said previously.

The company had said in July it was combining specialists from across its hardware, gaming and virtual reality units to build an immersive digital world known as the “metaverse.”

Priced starting at $299, the Ray-Ban Stories will roll out in Australia, Britain, Canada, Ireland, Italy and the United States.

Cameras are built into the front of the frames, while the arms are designed to act as directional speakers for listening to calls or streamed audio.

A white light in the front of the frame goes on when the cameras are being used, which is intended as a privacy feature to alert people they could be filmed.

Users can take a picture or a video clip of up to 30 seconds by pressing a button at the temple or using a voice command, both of which can be cues that a camera is on.

“We need the user to feel completely in control of their capture experience,” said Facebook Reality Labs product manager Hind Hobeika.

“And, similarly, we need people around them to feel comfortable that these smart glasses exist and always be in the know when a capture is happening,” Hobeika added, referring to filming.

The glasses also have a physical switch for turning them off.

Users log into the glasses’ Facebook View app using their accounts at the social network.

Ray-Ban Stories frames sync wirelessly to a smartphone app designed specifically for handling images or video captured by the glasses.

Users can decide using the app whether they want to share pictures or videos they have just captured, such as posting to Facebook or attaching them to an email.

Only data needed to run the app is gathered, and no information is used for targeting ads, said Hobeika.

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.

export import

Japan’s imports, exports grow on the overseas economic rebound

Japan’s exports in July jumped 37% from a year ago, the government said Wednesday, highlighting an overseas recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.

Imports also grew, rising 28.5%, according to Finance Ministry data, for the second straight month of a trade surplus for the world’s third-largest economy.

Japan’s exports grew to the U.S., Asia, and Europe; while imports increased from Brazil, Belgium, and Kuwait. By category, exports grew in food, iron and steel products, and electronic parts. Imports rose in food, auto parts, and oil. Japan marked a trade surplus with the U.S., but a deficit with China in July.

The strong trade numbers come even as Japan is seeing a surge in COVID-19 cases that are causing some hospitals to turn away patients.

The government state of emergency” was extended Tuesday through Sept 12. It had previously been set to end this month.

Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga also expanded the regions under emergency and a less strict quasi-emergency to about two-thirds of the nation. He promised hospital systems will be reorganized to increase wards to care for COVID-19 patients.

Japan has been trying to balance curbing infections while keeping the economy going. Japan’s economy grew at an annual rate of 1.3% in the April-June quarter.

The emergency is centered around having restaurants and bars close early and not serve alcohol and asking department stores and shopping malls to limit crowd size. Some government advisers have suggested stricter measures may be needed.

Japan has had more than 15,000 COVID-19-related deaths. But worries are growing about the new more contagious delta variant. After the Tokyo Olympics were held without fans, the Paralympics open later this month with similar anti-virus measures in place.

Although the vaccine rollout started slowly, about 40% of the population now is fully vaccinated.

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.

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!

Olympics

Tokyo Summer Olympics 2021: Day 6 Winners and Losers

Sunisa Lee joined an impressive club on Day 6 of the Tokyo Games, becoming the fifth straight U.S. gymnast to win the individual final at the Olympics.

As she earned gold with teammate Simone Biles supporting from the stands, Lee headlined a superb day for Team USA. Caeleb Dressel and Bobby Finke—who attended the same college—swam to a gold, and two beach volleyball teams added another win.

Additionally, international stars Novak Djokovic and Luka Doncic continued their impressive runs in tennis and basketball, respectively. And a long drought ended for Ireland, too.

Here’s a recap of the biggest results from Day 6 in Tokyo. As always, it’s a mix of good and bad, featuring a heavy dose of Team USA.

Winner: Team USA in Beach Volleyball (x2)

As far as dreams of advancing out of pool play and into the knockout portion of the beach volleyball tournaments are concerned, Day 6 was a massive positive for Team USA.

On the women’s side, Kelly Claes and Sarah Sponcil were facing Kenya’s Gaudencia Makokha and Brackcides Khadambi in the second of their three pool-play matches. The Americans had already won their opener in dramatic fashion, but they have a very difficult matchup remaining against Brazil’s Ana Patricia and Rebecca. A win against Kenya would just about clinch a spot in the Round of 16, but a loss to Kenya would leave them in a very vulnerable position.

No need to worry about that latter scenario, though, because Claes and Sponcil blew out Kenya 21-8, 21-6. Considering overall point margin is the first tiebreaker for determining who advances and in what seed, it was a big win in more ways than one.

On the men’s side, Nick Lucena and Phil Dalhausser entered their final match of pool play with one win, one loss and no clue whether they would finish at the top or the bottom of their pool. A lopsided loss to Argentina’s Julian Azaad and Nicolas Capogrosso would have surely meant elimination, while a blowout win could have assured them no worse than second place in the pool and a ticket to the next round.

They landed somewhere in between with a close, three-set victory over the Argentinians.

Neither side led by more than three points in the opening set, which the Americans won 21-19. In the second set, Argentina gradually opened up an 18-12 lead before Team USA almost came all the way back. Though they failed to win that second set (18-21), Lucena and Dalhausser were able to carry that momentum into the final set for a 15-6 win.

Tiebreakers sent Lucena and Dalhausser to third in Pool D, but they should advance directly to the Round of 16 with a 2-1 record.

Loser: The 3 Swimmers Who Were Ahead of Bobby Finke After 750 Meters

The first men’s 800-meter freestyle final in Olympic history was an instant classic.

Down in Lane No. 8, Italy’s Gregorio Paltrinieri jumped out to a big lead within the first 100 meters and held onto that lead until the final 75 or so meters. That’s when Germany’s Florian Wellbrock overtook the Italian for first place.

With 50 meters to go, it appeared to be a three-man race with Wellbrock 0.11 seconds ahead of Paltrinieri and 0.33 seconds ahead of Romania’s Mykhailo Romanchuk. The man in fourth place was Team USA’s Bobby Finke, but at 1.52 seconds behind the leader, he was an afterthought.

Until he wasn’t.

From the second length through the thirteenth length, Finke swam at a metronome-like pace, going 50 meters between 29.1 and 29.36 seconds 12 consecutive times.

In the fourteenth length, he trimmed that down to 28.75 seconds.

In the next-to-last length, he swam a slightly faster 28.59 seconds.

But he must have saved a Mario Kart mushroom for the final 50 meters, because he swam that final length in 26.39 seconds, zooming past the Romanian, German and Italian as if they weren’t even moving. Just an absurd closing stretch for the gold medal after swimming nearly half a mile.

Winner: Florida Gators Swim Team

Day 5 was an exciting day of swimming for the University of Virginia with teammates Alex Walsh and Kate Douglass taking silver and bronze, respectively, in the women’s 200-meter individual medley. And the Cavaliers celebrated another medal on Day 6 with Paige Madden swimming the second leg of the silver-medal winning women’s 4×200-meter freestyle relay. 

However, Day 6 in the pool was even more exciting for the University of Florida.

That’s where Bobby Finke will return to college with his gold medal in the men’s 800-meter freestyle, and it’s where Caeleb Dressel went before setting the Olympic record in the men’s 100-meter freestyle.

For Dressel, it was his second gold medal in Tokyo and the fourth of his Olympic career, and it was a nail-biter.

He led the entire race and appeared to be in a relatively commanding lead with 25 meters to go, but Australia’s Kyle Chalmers closed the gap in a hurry. Had it been a 100.5-meter race, the Aussie probably would have won. But Dressel got his hand to the wall 0.06 seconds ahead of Chalmers and set a new Olympic record of 47.02 seconds.

Shortly after getting out of the pool, Dressel joined Michele Tafoya to watch the replay of his wife and parents watching his race before getting to do a video chat with them.

I don’t know about your house, but it got dusty in here in a hurry. This whole “no fans because of COVID-19 restrictions” situation is a colossal bummer to put it lightly, but that was a heart-melting moment.

Loser: Ireland’s Gold-Medal Drought in Rowing

Ireland has sent at least 25 athletes to each Summer Olympics since 1960, but gold has mostly eluded the Emerald Isle over the years.

Prior to Tokyo, the Irish had won just five gold medals in the past six decades, three of which were won by swimmer Michelle Smith at the 1996 Games in Atlanta. And up until a silver medal five years ago in Rio, Ireland had never won an Olympic medal of any type in rowing.

But in the men’s lightweight double sculls, Ireland’s Paul O’Donovan and Fintan McCarthy narrowly edged out Germany’s Jason Osborne and Jonathan Rommelmann for the gold. The Germans jumped out to a fairly significant lead in the first 500 meters, but O’Donovan and McCarthy gradually caught up and pulled ahead over the final 1,500.

For what it’s worth, the subsequent women’s lightweight double sculls final was much more dramatic. Ireland won the men’s event by 0.86 seconds, but there was only a 0.50-second gap between first-place Italy and fourth-place Great Britain on the women’s side, as well as a 0.01-second gap separating Great Britain from Netherlands’ bronze medal.

And before we move on from rowing, let’s also be sure to mention Croatian brothers Martin and Valent Sinkovic. Their gold medal in men’s pair in Rio was Croatia’s first ever in rowing, and they repeated as gold medalists on Day 6. It’s the first time since Team USA’s Paul Costello and John B. Kelly Sr. took gold in both 1920 and 1924 that teammates repeated as Olympic champions in this event.

Winner: Sepp Straka, Austrian Golfer

It will be three more days until any Olympic medals are awarded for golf. However, the first round of the men’s tournament took place on Day 6, and the early leader is a little-known golfer from Austria.

Per CBS Sports, 36 of the 60 golfers in the field had gold-medal odds of 125-1 or better.

But if you bet on the guy who shot eight under par in the first round, you’ve got to be loving your 150-1 odds on Sepp Straka right about now.

Though he has been part of the PGA Tour for a couple of years now, Straka has only played in two majors in his career, placing 28th in the 2019 U.S. Open and 66th in the 2020 PGA Championship. In other words, if you’re the type of golf fan who only watches Saturdays and Sundays of the majors, there’s a good chance you’ve never heard of Straka before now.

However, after a bogey-free opening round in which he had eight birdies in the span of 15 holes, Straka could be well on his way to becoming a household name.

That’s only if he can avoid what happened to the first-round leaders in Rio, though.

In the men’s tournament in 2016, Australia’s Marcus Fraser also shot a rather stunning eight under in the first round before shooting par the rest of the way for a fifth-place finish. And in the women’s tournament, Thailand’s Ariya Jutanugarn led after Day 1 (six under) before withdrawing with a knee injury on Day 3.

Considering 2016 was the first year with golf at the Olympics in more than a century, that’s the extent of the history we can reference on the matter. But what a story it would be if Straka is able to ride his hot start to a medal.

Loser: Attempts to Eliminate Novak Djokovic

Novak Djokovic is on the brink of two medals in Tokyo.

To begin Thursday, Djokovic breezed through his quarterfinal in men’s singles. The world No. 1 dispatched Japan’s Kei Nishikori—the bronze medalist at the 2016 Rio Games—6-2, 6-0.

“He was defending amazing today—everything deep—and I was trying to stay with him but I couldn’t,” Nishikori said, per Andrew Dampf of the Associated Press. “I thought I was playing OK, but my serving was bad today and he was attacking every (time).”

Djokovic’s semifinal foe will be fourth-seeded Alexander Zverev of Germany.

But the Serbian superstar wasn’t finished. After a short break, Djokovic returned to the court with Nina Stojanovic for the mixed doubles quarterfinals. They quickly beat Germany’s Laura Siegemund and Kevin Krawietz 6-1, 6-2.

Next up for Djokovic/Stojanovic will be Elena Vesnina and Aslan Karatsev of the Russian Olympic Committee.

Regardless of the results, Djokovic is guaranteed a medal match in the competitions. But if he wins both—alongside Stojanovic in one—Djokovic will have a chance at a double gold in Tokyo.

Winner: Sunisa Lee’s Moment in the Spotlight

Sunisa Lee headed to Tokyo with medal expectations in the women’s all-around final. And when U.S. star Simone Biles withdrew from the competition because of mental health concerns, Lee had a clear path to an individual gold medal.

The 18-year-old from Minnesota is now a legend.

Lee posted a 57.433 to edge Brazil’s Rebeca Andrade (57.298) and Russian Olympic Committee duo Angelina Melnikova (57.199) and Vladislava Urazova (56.966) for gold.

During the final rotation, Andrade stepped out of bounds twice in her floor routine. The errors assured Lee of the highest spot on the podium. Andrade took home silver, becoming the first-ever Brazilian woman to medal in gymnastics. Melnikova ended with the bronze.

Lee became the fifth consecutive U.S. woman to win the all-around competition, joining Carly Patterson (2004), Nastia Liukin (2008), Gabby Douglas (2012) and Biles (2016).

Jade Carey, who replaced Biles for the United States, finished with a 54.199 score in eighth place.

Loser: Slowing the Luka Doncic, Slovenia Hype Train

Three days earlier, Luka Doncic set the record for most points (48) in an Olympic debut. If you’re a glass-half-full person, the good news for Japan is he only scored 25!

But in a 35-point drubbing of the host nation, the Dallas Mavericks guard put together a strong outing. Doncic shot 8-of-15 for his 25 points, adding seven rebounds, seven assists, two blocks and two steals in Slovenia’s comfortable 116-81 win.

Through two rounds, Doncic is the leading scorer in the competition. It’s possible, even likely, he’ll remain atop that leaderboard.

Doncic shouldn’t have all the attention, though.

“It’s not only Luka,” said Japan’s Rui Hachimura, who plays for the Washington Wizards and had 34 points in defeat. “They have a lot of guys who can hoop. … They’re a great team. They beat us.”

Zoran Dragic scored 24 points, and three others hit double figures. Seven players had multiple assists, and Slovenia outrebounded Japan 54-33. Mike Tobey, the ACC Sixth Man of the Year at Virginia in 2014-15, grabbed a game-high 11 boards.

If the rest of the roster keeps complementing Doncic at that level, Slovenia is every bit a gold-medal contender.

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?

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