Through a friend’s introduction, I met an ethnographer who is of mixed culture of Portugal and France, like I am that of Japan and US. We’ve had wonderful discussion about many subjects during our short meeting, and one of the topic was about why many foreign IT companies fail in Japan, but on the other hand, high brand, luxury products enjoy success.
My personal opinion is that any products that has long history of exceptionaly high quality and legend will do well in Japan. Fads come and go in Japan, so many products that catches the imagination of Japanese people will do very well for a short period of time. With craftsmanship and mastering tradition so integrated into many aspects of daily life in Japan, and with such lack of things that are of true tradition and quality produced in Japan after the World War II, people hunger for true quality. Those who understands craftsmanship quality will spread the myth and legend about qualified products, and general public just eat that up.
Companies who fail in Japan will shake their heads and say, the system is totally different there, the way things are done is totally different. But then what about Apple Computers, or BMW? The companies who are almost obsessive about excellent quality in their products will pursue excellence in people selection process for their partners in Japan too.
I’ve started thinking about this a few months ago after I listened to David Tonge of The Division talk about his research on perceived quality.