Posts Tagged ‘Family Mart’

A win-win for Nadeshiko and Japan’s merchants

Friday, July 22nd, 2011

Takashimaya's Nadeshiko commemorative dessert

As Japan welcomes back its women’s soccer team from their world cup triumph, Nadeshiko fever grips the nation. While the team’s victory is sure to spur women’s interest in soccer, it has also inspired the nation’s merchants. From sushi restaurants to department stores, special celebratory offers are the order of the day.

Sponichi Annex reports that Nadeshiko Sushi in Akihabara (which existed long before the women’s team was dubbed Nadeshiko) has been supporting the women’s team since it began kicking butt around the middle of the tournament. While the team battled it out on the field, the staff of the restaurant proudly wore its colors and when they won, the sushiya celebrated by dropping their ¥980 set meals to ¥700. In nearby Kanda, Izakaya Nadeshiko also discounted its sashimi set from ¥1,200 to ¥600. The izakaya naturally benefited from its name, as it popped up in online searches for the women’s soccer team’s name.

Over in konbini land, Family Mart is selling commemorative goods and holding a special thanks sale in honor of the Nadeshiko team up until July 25. Customers who buy items such as beer get entered into a lottery to win prizes.

Takashimaya will be selling a range of commemorative items from July 23 in honor of the victory. The department store also got on the ball quickly and invented a new Nadeshiko commemorative dessert. The blue and green lemonade jelly confection, which has a cute white-chocolate soccer ball perched on top, is available at the store’s rooftop beer garden for ¥420.

Not surprisingly, publishers are seeing brisk sales with Nadeshiko-related content.  According to Sankei News, a book titled “Homare” by  team captain Homare Sawa was sold out by July 18 at Kinokuniya stores across the country. Book 1st also sold out of “Honmare” as well as “Nadeshiko Power” (a book by teammate Sasaki Norio) before the final. The company is now placing an order 10 times as big as the last order for fresh copies.

Because no one was expecting the ladies’ team to beat the odds and come out on top, manufacturers were caught unawares. So we’re betting there will be plenty more Nadeshiko-related tie-ups to come.

China: the next frontier for konbini

Friday, May 13th, 2011

A local 24-hour convenience store in the city of Shenyang, Liaoning Province.

Aiming to export Japanese convenience store culture, four big Japanese companies are laying plans for expansion into China. Seven Eleven, Lawson, Mini Stop and Family Mart are all intending to open more stores in the near future, going up against both domestic and other foreign competitors for a lucrative slice of China’s convenience store pie.

While China has its own convenience store chains, such as Kedi, which has over 700 outlets in Shanghai and other parts of China, there’s no particular chain dominating the market nationwide, leaving the field open for Japanese names, as well as Tesco and Wallmart (who operate under the name of Smart Choice, or Hui Xuan in Chinese), to take the lead. And it’s not just the big players who are competing; China also has an abundance of privately run local stores.

According to Nikkei Trendy, big convenience store chains in China have the image of being cheap and rather fashionable. In addition they stock foreign goods unavailable in locally run stores. Japanese convenience chains stock items like bento pack lunches and onigiri rice balls which are perceived by the Chinese public as being high-quality products. The Chinese media, who’ve been taking note of the convenience-store wars, have been impressed with the standard of service at Japanese convenience stores compared with that of locally run small businesses.

As in Japan, convenience stores don’t just limit themselves to selling everyday goods; it’s also now possible to pay utility bills and make purchases over the Internet using a Lakala terminal. These terminals are proving very popular, and there are now over 40,000 spread across 246 towns and cities in China. Having one of these terminals available in-store appears to be a key factor toward winning over the market in China.

Plans for expansion by Japanese firms are as follows: Lawson aims to have opened 10,000 stores by 2020;  Family Mart wants to increase the number of stores from the existing 400 stores into 4,500; Seven Eleven, who opened 100 stores in Beijing and Tianjin in 2010, wants to open 50 in Chengdu by the end of 2011; and Mini Stop is slated to 200 shops within five years.

One difficulty that Japanese businesses might encounter is anti-Japanese sentiment. At the end of 2010 when tensions were running high over the Senkaku Islands issue, Japanese retailers Ito Yokado and Isetan suffered damage at the hands of protesters. However, at present, the market looks set to expand throughout 2011.

Photo: Prince Roy

 

Some konbeni snacks with your favorite anime?

Friday, November 12th, 2010

K-On! goods displayed in Lawson convenience store

K-On! goods displayed in Lawson convenience store

Pop culture and junk food are a perfect combination: Both are brightly colored, easy to consume and totally moreish. Personally I can while away whole afternoons watching anime while stuffing potato chips and chocolate down my gullet. Sure,  I end up feeling a little sick and ashamed at the end, but while it lasts, the experience is sublime.

Space Battleship Yamato drinks at Family Mart

Space Battleship Yamato drinks at Family Mart

That’s why convenience-store tie-in campaigns that target anime and movie fans make so much sense. A limited-edition K-On! Choco Snack has proven to be hugely popular, so popular that Gigazine discovered that it had disappeared off the shelves of the local Lawson within hours of going on sale Nov. 9.  In addition to the K-On! Fair at Lawson, this month Seven-Eleven and Family Mart are also running campaigns. Here’s a round up of what’s on offer:

  • K-On!, an anime about five high school girls who form a band, is the focus of Lawson’s campaign. K-On! fans can purchase special yaki-soba sandwiches, cold cocoa drinks, sticker sets and caramel corn. Fans can also accumulate points by buying Gogo no Kocha drinks, which then qualifies them to win lottery prizes that include T-shirts, K-On! figurines and a custom-made electric guitar.  Lawson is also selling K-On! phone cards, K-On! figurines (from Nov. 16) and tote bags (that can be purchased on Loppi). The campaign runs until Nov. 29.
  • Fans of One Piece should set sail for Seven-Eleven. Customers who spend over ¥700 can enter into a prize draw to win special pirate-themed One Piece booty. Some drinks also come with a free cell-phone strap.
  • To promote the upcoming release of “Space Battleship Yamato,” Family Mart is running a special campaign until Nov. 29. Customers who spend over ¥500 can apply for a special lottery to win movie-themed goods. Sweetening the deal, Yamato-themed pastries and drinks are available.

Baum cake blitz

Thursday, February 25th, 2010

baumkuchen

As convenience store chains go, Family Mart is one of the nicest. The quality and cleanliness always seems to be higher than average, which perhaps explains why minimalist retail store Muji chose it as the convenience store to carry Muji products. Or maybe it’s simply because both were originally part of the Seiyu Group, a large conglomerate and operator of Japanese supermarkets.

Many Family Mart locations stock a limited selection of Muji pens, pencils, stationery, condoms, underwear and snacks – tasty old-school snacks such as yogurt-covered cranberries, caramel-flavored marshmallows and chocolate-covered clumps of peanuts. The products rotate in and out, and Muji has kept a monthly column introducing new products and listing popular items since April 2006.

One particularly addictive item is Muji’s line of baumkuchen – known to many Americans as baum cake. Muji stores carry the full line of flavors: banana, sweet potato, pumpkin, milk tea, chocolate-iced chestnut and salt chocolate. A thin cut of circular baum sells for ¥158. Smaller “stick” sizes sell for ¥105 and are available in plain, purple sweet potato and black cocoa. The two newest flavors are lemon and strawberry, both of which are topped with icing and thus are noticeably sweeter than the others.

Family Marts usually offer one or two varieties, and recently the Family Mart near me has been selling the lemon flavor. It’s been two weeks since I discovered this, and I’m averaging 2.5 baums a week.

The non-iced flavors are all very subtly sweet, perfect for the Japanese palate. This may explain the baum-cake madness that can be witnessed outside of Nenrinya cake shops – customers regularly line up for hours in lines that extend over 1 km to buy cuts of gourmet baumkuchen for souvenirs. A single “ridge” of baum runs ¥1,239. Even if you don’t stand in line, it’s always fun to watch the baumkuchen cook on rotisseries in the windows of stores.

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