Sunday, May 19, 2013

No. 29: Publishing e-books and taking in people in general simultaneously is vital to spread Japanese culture (May 20, 2013)

Mickey Mouse is unquestionably the world’s most famous character, but Japan’s Hello Kitty is growing popular even in the U.S., the home country of Mickey Mouse. Sanrio, the creator of Kitty, reportedly renewed the highest operating profit in fiscal ended March 2013 and will supposedly renew it again in fiscal ending March 2014. Likewise, Japan’s two mobile game developers, DeNA and Gree, are growing very fast these days.

Cool Japan is a national policy to dispatch Japanese culture to the world. However, Japan has to overcome several headaches. One of them is unauthorized copies. In the world, underground websites get data on the latest issues of Japanese comics one week before they are sold at Japanese booksellers and put their unauthorized English versions on the Internet in just two days. That is, foreign readers read the latest contents free well before Japanese readers buy their favorite comics at a bookseller. Several Japanese publishers started to distribute e-books in alliance with foreign Internet companies, and publish a new issue simultaneously both at home and abroad. For example, an American venture, Crunchyroll, has been offering the charge system since 2009. The company has now 200,000 members who can read all comics at a flat rate of 6.55 dollars per month. As far as comics are concerned, the strategy to publish e-books and offer them to members all over the world simultaneously at a flat rate in alliance foreign Internet service companies has become vital.

The Japanese government is trying hard to keep foreign people informed of Japanese culture. Actually, Japanese contents successfully got fans called “Otaku (Fanatics)” worldwide. In fact, there are lots of people enchanted with Japanese culture, and it seems that the Japanese content industry is doing well in the export business. The fact remains that it exports only 5% of its total sales of 12 trillion yen. One of the reasons for the stagnant export value is the lack of efforts to increase fans. Japanese contents companies have been increasing fans with a focus on Otaku (fanatics). However, it is time to shift the focus from Otaku to non Otaku, who can be called people in general, to spread Japanese culture worldwide. Think about Nintendo’s strategy. Nintendo recorded a remarkable sales increase by taking in people uninterested in video games.  

The above story can apply not only to a country but also to a company. It is vital for every company to increase customers by strengthening its technology and service, responding to the change of market situation. In the case of the content industry, creativity matters most. Companies successful in trying to keep people excited with new contents will survive. As Peter Drucker taught us, “The purpose of business is to create and keep a customer.”  

 Is Japan cool?

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