Daifuku in Arizona?
Subscription to Japanese sweets to be delivered to the world April 7, 20:25
Japanese sweets that are familiar in Japan are now attracting attention from younger generations overseas as " WAGASHI
There is an entrepreneur in Tokyo who has started a service called "subscribing" that delivers such Japanese sweets only overseas at a fixed monthly rate.
We explored strategies that will win the hearts of customers around the world and the thoughts that we put into our business.
(International Broadcasting Station reporter Saori Nakagawa)
Sweet but not too sweet?
What do overseas consumers find attractive about Japanese sweets?
I spoke remotely with Janel Robertson, 30, who lives in Arizona, USA, who is looking forward to the assortment from Japan every month.
Mr. Robertson immediately took out "Sakura Daifuku" from the other side of the screen.
I ate a bite and smiled, saying, "It's very delicious! The soft texture is very nice."
"It's sweet, but it's not too sweet."
He loves the taste of Japanese sweets.
However, it is hard to get it in the local area of Arizona, so he is looking forward to receiving it from Japan.
"It looks beautiful and has a completely different texture than American sweets. It
's really exciting to be able to eat traditional sweets from a small maker."
With the sensibility of foreigners
Ayumi Chikamoto (37) started a subscription sales business that delivers assorted boxes of Japanese sweets to overseas at a fixed monthly rate.
Mr. Chikamoto is aware of various mechanisms that tickle the hearts of overseas consumers.
One of them is to set a theme in the assortment box every month.
For example, the theme for April is "Sakura Festival".
Sakura Manju, Sakura Agar, Sakura Daifuku, Sakura Kuzumochi, Sakura Senbei ...
Anyway, it's full of cherry blossoms, just like a festival.
The appearance of various sweets in each season seems to be fresh to foreigners.
Another mechanism is to utilize the perspective of foreigners in promotion and marketing.
Chikamoto's company "ICHIGO" has more than 60% of its 80 employees from overseas.
The office is truly international.
Mr. Chikamoto says that the sensibility of foreigners is very important for selling overseas.
ICHIGO CEO Mr. Chikamoto
"For web design, marketing, and customer support, which are the points of contact with customers, we try to hire foreigners as much as possible to deliver services that are as close to the customer's perspective as possible."
One of the employees, Oliver McMan from England, is in charge of sending SNS.
For example, here is the text I posted with a photo of Kuzumochi with cherry blossom petals.
"Kuzumochi made from kuzu starch is a little harder than jelly, so please have a special feast for the cherry blossom season." (Original text is in English)
The characteristics of Kuzumochi are explained with an emphasis on texture.
"I would like to introduce what I think is the best about Japanese sweets. Japanese sweets are very cool. Not only are they traditional sweets, but they also have various flavors."
Corona is a need?
Mr. Chikamoto started his business when he witnessed the "bomb buying" of foreign tourists about 10 years ago when he was in charge of internet business at a major company.
I was convinced that "Japanese products sell well", so I retired from my place of employment and entered the confectionery business.
The first thing we started with was the sale of subscriptions to Japanese snacks such as potato chips and chocolate.
Mr. Chikamoto packed the snacks he bought at the retail store in a box and shipped them, but at first he said that there were few orders.
However, a snack snack subscription happened to catch the eye of an overseas YouTuber, and orders increased as a result of posting a video.
The business has expanded.
Under such circumstances, customers have come to request that they also send Japanese sweets such as Daifuku and Manju.
In 2021, Mr. Chikamoto embarked on a subscription specializing in “WAGASHI”.
Our main customers are in their 20s and 40s in Europe and the United States, and we have an assortment of reasonably priced sweets ordered from 50 companies all over Japan.
Due to the influence of the new Corona, the explosive buying of foreign tourists has been overshadowed, but on the contrary, Mr. Chikamoto thinks that this subscription matched the needs of overseas Japanese sweets fans who could not come to Japan.
"It is unavoidable that foreign tourists cannot come due to the corona disaster, but I feel that we can continue to send out Japan even in such a case.
What is the same thing to keep the Japanese tradition? Japanese sweets that have been made for 100 years are Japanese culture itself, so I feel that such a place is very popular. "
I want to deliver the taste of the ingredients
Most of the sweets in the assortment are products of Japanese SMEs.
Many companies have delivered sweets overseas for the first time thanks to subscriptions.
One of them is "Umerindo" in Saitama Prefecture.
Although it has been a Japanese confectionery maker for over 150 years, it has not been sold overseas until now.
That's because the best-by date of a product is shorter than that of a snack.
When selling through the conventional distribution route via trading companies, it takes time to reach consumers, so there is a risk that the flavor will deteriorate.
However, if the subscription is sent directly from Tokyo to the pre-contracted consumer, it will reach the customer in a minimum of 3 days, so the expiration date does not matter so much, and the dream of selling overseas has come true.
Mr. Kurihara, Managing Director of Umerindo
"Japanese sweets have a rooted culture that makes the best use of the taste of the ingredients, but the flavor will be lost if the time has passed since the production.
You can feel the taste of the ingredients that we are particular about .
I want you to convey the goodness of Japan. "
Business opportunities close to you
Japanese sweets subscriptions, along with snack subscriptions, are currently sold in 180 countries and regions, and last year's sales increased seven-fold the year after the start of the business.
Mr. Chikamoto's corporate philosophy is to "make the world Japan."
I am enthusiastic to disseminate and instill wonderful "Japanese things" and culture, such as tea and miscellaneous goods, as well as Japanese sweets so that they will become familiar to the world.
"Wagashi is cool", "Wagashi is exciting" ---
I'm very happy that Japanese sweets, which people living in Japan usually enjoy, have captured the hearts of foreigners like this.
I realized once again that there are unexpected business opportunities in our immediate enjoyment.
Saori Nakagawa , World News
Department, International Broadcasting Station Joined in
charge of coverage and production of English news