Made in Japan, marketed in U.S.

Oct 01, 1998 9:30 PM  By

An estimated 839,000 Japanese-Americans live in the U.S. today, up 4.2% from 1990, according to New York marketing agency Kang & Lee. And that number is projected to grow another 7% to more than 900,000 by 2010.

Certain that these Japanese-Americans-as well as Japanese expatriates-are homesick for goods from their native land, Japanese cataloger Fujisankei Communications is rolling out its Dinos Collection general merchandise book in the U.S. “We get many phone calls from Japanese people in the U.S. wanting Japanese merchandise,” says Eiko Nagata, marketing manager for the New York division of Tokyo-based media conglomerate Fuji Television, which owns Fujisankei.

The first phase of the three-part rollout began in May with the launch of the 9″ x 12″, 300-page, Japanese-language book, which has been distributed in Japan for more than 20 years. Stateside recipients could order merchandise and have it delivered to friends and family in Japan. In the second phase of distribution, scheduled for later this year or early next year, the company will offer merchandise delivery to U.S. addresses from its distribution center in Tokyo. The final phase of the rollout, scheduled for late 1999, will involve setting up a U.S. distribution center.

Non-Asian models Products range from furniture to apparel to fitness equipment. Although the catalog targets Japanese speakers, it uses non-Asian clothing models. “If we were to use Asian models, we feel the buyers would compare themselves to how the product looks on the model,” Nagata says. “With non-Asian models, they concentrate more on the product than on the model.”

To generate leads, Fujisankei is running ads in U.S. Japanese-language newspapers and on Japanese-language television stations nationwide. It also mailed the book to 600 names it had generated through a previous test campaign, which promoted Mother’s Day flowers that could be delivered in Japan. Nagata won’t disclose the total number of catalogs mailed, nor will the company release any sales figures.

Once rollout is complete, Nagata estimates Fujisankei will distribute three U.S. catalogs per year, including a smaller home furnishings catalog called House Styling. All books are expected to remain in Japanese.