Strategic Spot of Outlet for Experiencing Goodness : : Branding of Imabari Towel Japan (Part 5)

Till the point where the subsidization from “Japan Brand Incubation Supporting Programme” was finished, Imabari Towel still did not have a sole outlet in Tokyo. There were only three collaborating outlets – Mitsukoshi department store, official gift shop in The National Art Center and Isetan Shinjuku department store. So what to do next?

With the preliminary favourable outcome, the Shikoku Towel Industrial Cooperative Association (STICA) was looking for other sustaining fund from The Small and Medium Enterprise Agency of Japan. Finally, they have applied for “Japan Brand Strategic Business Development Programme” for a single year. With this funding, they wanted to proceed business development overseas. But Mr. Kashiwa Sato did not feel its the right time without building a concrete local reputation in Japan. As they had a very strong desire a shot, Mr. Sato then confined to only one fair with the best psychograpics. As a matter of fact, in 2011, they had joint a Shanghai trade show in China. They had a very bad experience that people there had the least conscious about quality around the world, but seeking for the lowest price.

After research, Mr. Sato aimed at participating the Helsinki Habitare in Finland. The main visitors would be from Europe particularly Scandinavian, where people concern ultimate high quality of living and their spending is outstanding. Eventually, they received an amount of about 1 million JPY (9,193 USD) of export and OEM contracts. Though the result was incomparable to expenditure, it sounded encouraging (certainly with subsidies).

Mr. Sato’s insistence finally was rewarded. After series of tug-of-wars between Mr. Sato and STICA, they have ended up an agreement of launching an outlet in good spot of Tokyo. Indisputably, the aggregate sum of expenditure of participation in one trade show would be 10 million JPY (91,936 USD), or counted as 83,333 JPY (7,661 USD) daily spending. In 15 June 2010, Imabari Towel launched its first shop at the second floor of The From-First Building in Minami Aoyama, Tokyo.

Mr. Sato collaborated with Mr. Shigeru Kubota of Kubota Architects & Associates Inc. Mr. Kubota designed the shop for them as the prototype of the retailing image. Mr. Sato wanted to sell white towels only, so the primary obstacle is to background the hero of white towels. Bearing in mind that the brand essence of Imabari Towel are “Sun”, “Ocean”, “Air” and “Water”. To naturally blended into the brand essence, birchwood is used all-over. Birchwood could barely background to and blend into white towels. To enhance task of sale, a huge working table is built for selection of merchandises and providing package services to several customers at the same time. Luckily, the project has won Gold Award of the JCD Design Award 2013.

“The aim of Imabari Towel Minami Aoyama Shop is not earning profit; yet building a platform for customers to experience our towels.” – Kashiwa Sato

Speaking about direct result, in the first month, the monthly sale was three times of their projection based on previous bad retailing experience. They projected to have about 3 million JPY (27,614 USD). After months, they already received a monthly sale of 10 million JPY (91,936 USD). More importantly, they can now collect accurate customers’ feedback, fondness and hatred.

(To be continued…)

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