Market Entry

Most foreign firms begin their interaction with Japan by looking for a distributor or trading opportunity with Japanese domestic companies. LINC Media has been operating in the cross-border trade space since it started in 1996, and is an expert in the field of Market Entry.

We have two channels to process requests for assistance to enter the market. These are our internal Japan Concierge matching service (www.japanconcierge.com), and our Japan Inc. Holdings affiliate Early-stage Market Entry (EME) services.

Japan Concierge

Japan Concierge is primarily a matching service between Clients working through LINC Media and a pool of major Japanese partners. The concept is one of a Japan gateway for foreign companies, which leads to a group of facilitating firms (each with distinct core competencies) and then on to their end-customers. This concept is closely aligned with the Japanese value of working in familiar groups and has the advantage that the facilitating partners of Japan Concierge are interested and committed in introducing your company to their extensive and deep corporate network of companies.

Japan Concierge works because our facilitating partners' are approaching on our behalf their substantial database of end-customers and asking them to be your potential partner in Japan. Since the end-customer companies have in many cases built up a 30-year+ business relationship with the facilitator, the trust level is high and quality of information and leverage is high as well. Of course the motivation for our facilitating partners is the desire to provide your firm with services once you have found a potential partner and make plans to launch in Japan. However, this is not a tied obligation and the facilitating partners are willing to submit competitive bids should you desire to let a tender for a particular piece of work.

Currently Japan Concierge is partnered with the following companies:

  • Itoki, one of Japan's top 3 business furniture and office services companies, and which has approximately 20,000 business customers they can introduce our Clients to
  • Hitachi Joho, a major player in the Hitachi group of companies and with strong access not only to the 1,000 or so Hitachi group subsidiaries but also to thousands of their own independent customers
  • Mitsubishi Jissho, Japan's second largest business realtor and owner of the bulk of the prestigious buildings in the downtown Marunouchi business district
  • We have other discussions in negotiation and will announce further partners on the Japan Concierge site.

As the name implies, Japan Concierge is set up to take care of a wide range of needs and issues of Clients. This is of course achieved on the LINC Media Services Platform, and the benefits overlap in terms of one-stop shopping, contiguous project management, and money-saving project-based charging.

EME

Japan Inc. Holding's EME package addresses the needs of foreign companies wanting research on their market segment, and by virtue of the EME team's proactive pre-sales market research technique, identification and approach to potential distributors. It differs considerably from Japan Concierge in that the emphasis of EME is grass roots, front-door approaches to potentially interested companies. This means that EME particularly suits companies with products and services that are immediately attractive to Japanese partners, and where political connections matter less than the quality of your Intellectual Property (IP).

Qualifiers as to whether you should be using EME or the more facilitative Japan Concierge service include:

  • availability of any patents
  • how advanced your product is than the market in general
  • whether you fill a specific gap in the Japanese market which isn't being addressed at present
  • your brand is famous overseas and recognizable in Japan
  • your technology can be embedded into a Japanese product and you are not concerned about building brand name recognition

If your company doesn't meet these criteria, then probably Japan Concierge is a better way to get results.

Methodology

Regardless of the method of entry, a typical market entry program runs for 3-4 months and consists of the following stages:

  1. Research and Prepare
    • Prepare several product stories/scenarios for presenting concept to potential partners
    • Prepare basic Japanese-language pre-sales materials (PowerPoint presentations)
    • Investigate and document current market environment — primarily by talking to industry experts
    • Identify key partners, early-stage customers, and experts in the networks build-out market
  2. Approach and Sell
    • Contact partners/customers, and push to make appointments
    • Make initial presentations, do initial interviews
    • Document results of presentations and interviews, with further research and follow up as necessary
    • Hand-off any potential tie-up/sales opportunities to Client management
  3. Linkage and Introductions
    • Follow up and arrange meetings for Client management to meet experts/partners/customers in Japan
    • Provide management advice to Client on how to convert meetings into solid negotiations
    • Attend meetings with Client, providing interpretation as required
    • Provide follow-up and ongoing assistance for duration of contract, and longer, if required (additional cost)
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