Saturday, July 31, 2010

Banana Vending Machine in Shibuya

By Mike in Tokyo Rogers

I read about how in the west that people are buying gold from vending machines now that their fiat currencies are dying a slow death.

In Japan, we sell something that is gold colored as well, but it's not gold; it's bananas in vending machines.

Dole has installed a banana vending machine underground at 109 in Shibuya.

Now, you might think that a banana vending machine that sells bananas for about $1.50 (USD) could sell any bananas at all due to the high price, but you would be wrong. According to a Dole spokesman, the banana vending machine is doing quite well.

I usually buy my bananas at OK store. OK sells bananas for about ¥20 each (about $0.22 cents) when you buy a bunch of four.

According to Kyodo News, the banana vending machine is doing well. Kyodo reports:

Despite the premium prices, more than 2,500 have been sold within a month.

So, how is it possible that a banana vending machine could be selling bananas at such a high price and still be doing a brisk business? Well, it's very difficult to find bananas or fruits of any kind in Shibuya. I've been there easily over 1,000 times and couldn't tell you where a grocery store is.

There are a few convenience stores, several minutes walk from 109, but most convenience stores in Japan only sell processed poison and few carry any fruits at all...

The only other option is you don't want to buy a banana for about $1.50 is to go to Starbucks. Starbucks sells bananas in Japan for ¥80 (about $0.90 cents) each.

But the average Japanese businessman doesn't want to eat a healthy banana in a place like Starbucks... I mean, where would they have their after-healthy-snack cigarette?

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Keywords:
Dole, banana, Tokyo, Shibuya, vending machine, banana vending machine, Japanese, Mike Rogers, Marketing Japan, Mike in Tokyo Rogers, Starbucks, gold, kyodo news, 109 department store

Shocker! Yahoo Japan Throws in the Towel to Google Japan

By Mike in Tokyo Rogers

For so many years here in Japan, Yahoo.jp was the preferred search engine for the average Japanese person. Then, about two years ago, Google.co.jp started making serious moves into Yahoo Japan's dominance.

Last year, for the very first time, Japanese users found Google to be the search engine of choice for their needs.

Now, Yahoo Japan seems to have given up...

From the Yomiuri Newspaper:  


Yahoo Japan aims to improve the quality of its services with its recent decision to use Google Inc.'s search engine, a move that will cause the firm to rely on a rival company, according to analysts. The partnership between Yahoo Japan and Google of the United States is indicative of the fierce competition in the Internet market.

The deal, announced Tuesday, means Google will dominate about 90 percent of the Internet search market in Japan. While both firms will use the same search engine, each company will provide services using its own information. "The competitive relationship will continue," Yahoo Japan said. By utilizing Google's search engine, Yahoo Japan hopes to optimize its business resources.

Yahoo Inc., which owns 34.7 percent of Yahoo Japan and is its second-largest stakeholder, suspended development of its search technology and now utilizes rival Microsoft Corp.'s Bing search engine, hoping to catch up with Google--the leader in the U.S. Internet search market.


What a load of "spin." Yahoo here actually admits in public that Google search engine is superior (but you and I already knew that!) when they say, 



Yahoo Japan aims to improve the quality of its services with its recent decision to use Google Inc.'s search engine


I'll bet this steams the buns of Yahoo Inc. in the USA. By the way, like the article says, Yahoo in the USA owns 34.7% of Yahoo Japan so you can bet that there were some heated debates about this pulling up their skirts and running for cover. 


No doubt about it anymore... Google has kicked Yahoo's butt!  


I have been to both Google Japan's office's and Yahoo Japan here in Tokyo. I can tell you from experience that there seems to be much more of a "buzz" at Google and I get the impression that the Google people just know that they are kicking the butt of the competition.

It reminds me of the atmosphere difference between Apple and Microsoft.

At Apple Japan, things are happening and people just brim with excitement. At Microsoft I get the impression of a company that is fat and resting on their laurels.

It's the same at Yahoo Japan and Google Japan...

With this deal, Google Japan gets 90% of the search market in Japan. Look for Yahoo to slip back to more and more of a bit player in the Japanese market over the next 5 ~ 10 years.   


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Keywords:

Google, Yahoo, Yahoo Japan, Google Japan, marketing, Apple Japan, Internet, United States, Microsoft, Japanese, Tokyo, Marketing Japan, Mike Rogers, Mike in Tokyo Rogers, search engine,  

Asia Images by John Lander

By Mike in Tokyo Rogers

If you are ever in need of excellent, super high-quality stock images of Japan and Asia, then let me highly recommend John Lander. I think his work is fantastic.

John Lander Asia Images

Here is a slide show of a recent trip John took to an onsen (hot springs) in Japan. See the slideshow here.


John is a free-lance photographer and here is a short bio on John from Phottix Journal:

John Lander is a freelance writer and photographer based in Japan with a passion for Japanese gardens, Japanese cuisine and festivals. John’s credits include photos and articles published by Travel+Leisure, Forbes, Camping Life, Diversion, Asian Geographic, The Japan Times, The Toronto Star, Sydney Morning Post,The Australian among many others. Other clients include Twentieth Century Fox, Hachette Media, Asahi Press and McGraw-Hill.

You may not be able to visit Japan right now, but, if you have the desire, you can see John Lander's work and get the feel of being here.




John Lander photography is the next best thing to actually being in Japan! See his galleries here.

Book Reviews for Thinkers: Malcolm Gladwell "Outliers"

By Mike in Tokyo Rogers


I am a huge fan of Malcolm Gladwell and, even if you don't read books too often, I strongly suggest that you read Malcolm Gladwell.


It will put you well ahead of your peers in understanding, perhaps not the nuts and bolts of marketing, but philosophy and great insights to how things work and why some things become popular in our society today.


Gladwell became hugely popular with the books, The Tipping Point and Blink.


The Tipping Point explains why things run as under-currents for so long and then, suddenly, burst out into mass popularity. His theory is best explained as a comparison to the common cold or influenza. In the case of influenza, the disease is in all of our bodies at all times, but what causes it to suddenly explode and to become pandemic only to subside quietly later on just as quickly as it arrived? Gladwell explains that perfectly and in an incredibly interesting writing style that will have the reader enthralled the entire book.


In Blink, Gladwell explains how we can judge something within a split second and do... It's just that, as a result of living in modern society, we depress our instinctive feelings and use our brains more... Sometimes with bad results...


Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell


Say, late at night, a woman enters a dark building and goes to the elevator. She stands there and then a man comes to stand next to her. She instinctively feels that something is wrong; there is some danger. Yet she rationalizes that she is just being paranoid. She enters the elevator with the man and then, in the elevator, she is robbed or worse.


Compared with the fawn in a field. A fawn senses danger and then does not hesitate to think, the fawn is off on a dash to run away.


Had the woman trusted her instinctive feelings that nature gave her, she wouldn't have had the unfortunate incident happen to her. That is the lessons of Blink; that we can judge anything, a person, a book, a movie, music, whatever within a second or two.


I think this is absolutely true. After working in music and entertainment for over 30 years, I can judge within 2 seconds if some music I hear is "good" or not (meaning something that I would like).


Malcolm Gladwell's newest book Outliers "The Story of Success" is another winner. This time he explains about what it takes to be a world class professional. It doesn't matter whether we are considering   professional hockey players, musicians, concert pianists, soccer players or Biochemical engineers... Gladwell has unlocked the mystery as to what makes one person a Nobel Peace Prize candidate and ones that were also-ran...


I highly recommend this book for everyone especially parents with small children. After reading Outliers, you may see why some kids excel and others are just "like all the others" and how much you really do have to say about your child's future.


I think the results will astound you.


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Keywords: Malcolm Gladwell, Outliers, Tipping Point, Blink, Nobel Peace Prize, kids, children, Mike Rogers, Marketing Japan, Mike in Tokyo Rogers


  

Friday, July 30, 2010

Does Social Media Need Old Media to be Effective? No! Here's Proof!....

By Mike in Tokyo Rogers

There sure is a lot of boring stuff on Social Media these days. I was just checking out Linkedin where they had a topic of "What are for you the most common mistakes in social media marketing approach?" (sic)

It said:

What are for you most the common mistakes in social media marketing approach?
Either from client's side or agencies' side, what are the obvious reason why social media strategies you have seen were not working?

For me , some are:
- lack of time investment,
- Boring / irrelevant content,
- lack of clear objectives,
- Being inactive,
- Do not react when sollicitate
- ...
What are yours?

(sic)

I didn't correct his post. That's how poorly it was written. I'm assuming that he's missing one of the reasons that his SMM is doing poorly is because his spelling, diction and grammar are wretched... 

Besides that, these good people are mainly talking about pick, Twitter and Facebook (Mixi is only in Japan). Some of the good folks actually did write intelligent comments and I usually don't write comments on these things, but this time I made an exception. I responded:



 I think everyone is missing two huge points that I see all the time and that I do believe will be, say, Twitter's undoing within 3 years (besides 60% of all Twitter users dropping off within the first 30 days).

1) Boring writers make boring content. Get motivated, creative and funny or interesting writers. Quit forcing office clerks to do SMM (I see that all the time). If the writer is not motivated what makes anyone think the readers will enjoy the writing?

2) Quit sending out motivational and sales stuff all the time... I'd say that at least 1/2 of the junk I get on Twitter is the same as Direct Mail. Who needs it?



Another guy (obviously an old hand at advertising and marketing) wrote:


I see the market and clients every day, and the thing I can tell you is that a B to C company investing all its marketing budget and ressources in social media has 99% chances failing. (sic)


This might be true, but rather than trying to convince you or me, I gather he is trying to convince himself... This would also explain why his Social Media Marketing efforts fail. He doesn't "get it." 


He goes on to write:


This for one simple reason, their are rules and processes in marketing and nobody will want to connect and engage with a brand you don't know.
For this reason , I am convinced that SM works ONLY when being integrated inside a marketing plan, together with media placement, PR, promo, direct marketing and CRM. 
(sic)


Notice that there is not single fact or piece of evidence that he inserts into his claims. What a load of nonsense. What "rules"? What "processes"? 


(I can imagine that his retort to my skepticism would be "Because I know. I've been in this business a long time!" Just as the captain of the Titanic, Edward Smith, was a thirty-two year veteran when they hit that ice-berg!)


I bet this is the kind of crap he tells his clients. What's he doing on a Linkedin Social Media site besides posing as a SMM expert I don't know. Besides that, like I said, I hope this guy doesn't write copy. It's terrible. 


Besides his being wrong and just throwing out opinions. He obviously doesn't know or comprehend how to use Social Media well... I suspect that, from being in a dusty old advertising company desk for so long, that he's so used to taking client money and going out to "do" lunch while on the client's dollar that he thinks he can do things the old way; think for a while (or tell someone else to do the thinking) and order someone else to do the Social Media part (I explained above why that's a bad idea) and sit around like always.


Meet the new boss, same as the old boss. 


I didn't blast the guy (like he deserved), but added this as my last word:


One more thing that I think is missing - and I don't agree that a big bucks mass media plan is necessary - I've done it without one.

Notes: We increased airline passengers to and from Japan for a Chinese airlines by over 270% between October 2009 and April 2010. We also increased tourism to Croatia by 300% in three years (don't forget this was during a seriously down market - airlines lost billions in 2009) all by the internet only - with minimal mass media support (we certainly did not spend one cent on mass media!).

It seems that too many good folks are trying to do the SMM the lazy way... You do SMM to keep costs down, but SMM is, perhaps not labor intensive, but it is certainly effort intensive.

Besides SMM you need to do a Word-press blog for the client that includes SNS (Use Ruby on Rails to build - dirt cheap) and gives away killer content, has contests and prizes, and motivates people to return everyday!

Being lazy and throwing money away at the old media then doing a few Twitters doesn't cut it anymore. (which is actually why I say Twitter is in serious trouble!)

Make a killer blog for the client (perhaps using a persona like Helga of Volkswagen - Look her up on Google). The blogs needs video (suggest U-Stream recorded to YouTube), SNS, chat, free information, excellent and compelling writing, and free giveaways all the time.

That motivates people!

Then your SMM directs people to the blog, not to some boring corporate site that is nothing more than an online company brochure (that is structured like web 1.0) .

This is effective. This s the new way. It is not easy and lazy people who think that throwing money or half-butt efforts at it need not apply.



Like I've said many times before, it seems that a lot of these people who claim to be experts at Social Media actually do not "do" Social Media. If you ever get anyone who claims to be an expert, first off ask for their URL's


Hint: If they do not blog - and do not actively blog at least three times a week - I'd say it's a 99% chance that they are blowing smoke in your face. Don't fall for it. 


Smart Social media marketers will have a rundown of what they do (excepting for invitation members only sites) as the signature of their e-mails. Here's mine:


Mike in Tokyo Rogers
e-mail: mike.rogers@universal-vision.jp 
Blog: http://modernmarketingjapan.blogspot.com/


Look for these kinds of things when investigating a potential company to help you with marketing. Be leery of companies, big or small, who claim to be experts at Social Media. The proof, as they say, is in the pudding.


Some of my readers know I will be on vacation from tomorrow, but nevertheless the BLOG calls! Tomorrow, I will place diagrams and information tomorrow morning for all of you who have mailed about bit differentiations between Japanese Katakana and Japanese Kanji versus English pertaining to my recent blog.


But, just for a teaser. Consider:


Word (translation).......................................Bit count


イギリス (England)...................................8 bits
England.......................................................7 bits
旅行 (Travel)...............................................4 bits
Travel...........................................................6 bits


Data on the Internet consist of bits. It is the way data is stored. This is important to know if you want to run a successful business in Japan.


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Keywords:
blog, Social Media, Mixi, Google, Helga, SMM, Mike Rogers, Social Media Services, China, Croatia, England, Travel, bit, bit count, Japan,  Japanese Kanji, Modern Marketing Japan, social media marketing, promo, Japanese Katakana, PR, Twitter, marketing plan, Facebook, Linkedin, airlines, YouTube, U-Stream, e-mail, Lew Rockwell, Mike in Tokyo Rogers, chat, Marketing Japan, web, web 1.0, Volkswagen, Ruby on Rails, Placement, Word Press, mass media, free information, direct marketing,



Thursday, July 29, 2010

George Williams: The Music Revolution Starts Here

By Mike in Tokyo Rogers

Yesterday, I had the chance to visit George Williams and check out his very cool studio in Tokyo where he records shows for his blog / video blog, "The Music Revolution Starts Here." What a fantastic and extremely cool set-up he has.

George Williams at the Yakult Swallows' Jingu Baseball stadium

At The Music Revolution Starts Here, George introduces many of his extremely famous Japanese musician friends and the site is totally Indie and underground music. It's way cool and there's nothing like it anywhere else in Japan. You can see this completely new and ground-breaking way to promote music and do your very own TV right here.

The reason why I mention George and his web site is that I think he is setting records for unique users to his site. Get this: The site started on July 15th. Yesterday was not quite 2 weeks and The Music Revolution Starts here web page has been averaging just over 1,100 visitors a day! That's incredible!

Of course George Williams is on TV and radio all the time but he is also a whiz-kid at utilizing Social Media to promote his work which is updated daily.

You can follow George's Twitter here (great place to study up on Japanese!): http://twitter.com/kungfugeorge
Pick here: http://naver.jp/kungfugeorge
Facebook here:

He's got a bunch of other Social Media and things he does like Mixi and others (search on YouTube and U-Stream) but those URL's escape me now (I'm sure you can find them all on Facebook or on his web site).

At his web site he has tabs for Music, English, Cooking, Variety and Schedule (I don't know exactly what that last one is all about!) and he records new content every night. Last night's show featured Japanese rock star Ken Lloyd from Oblivion Dust (they sold millions of records in Japan); and more recently, "Fake."

See pirated version's of Oblivion Dust on YouTube here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8rnzuhCs9vE&feature=related (parental warning on this one!)

Fake? "Just Like Billy": http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LNJfUyVByP4

(Check these out while you can cause they are not supposed to be there... The record label are real assholes!)

Ken Lloyd is very famous and popular with the girls and, of course, he - as well as all his friend's - are big fans of mine... Ken (bless his heart) constantly begs for my autograph.

George Williams' The Music Revolution Starts Here getting over 1,000 visitors a day (with many of the visits coming from Europe and Russia) has to be some kind of record for a new blog. Someone from Google confirm that for me, willya?

Anyhow, George Williams and The Music Revolution Starts Here are definitely happening!

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Keywords: Indie, Indie Music, George Williams, English, Cooking, Pick, Japan, Twitter, U-Stream, Variety, Schedule, Mixi, YouTube, The Music Revolution Starts Here, Oblivion Dust, Japanese, Ken Lloyd, Fake?, TV, Jingu, Yakult Swallows, underground music, Japanese rock star, Music, Social Media, Facebook, Record label, assholes, record label assholes

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Is Tokyo's "Monster Pool" fact or fiction?

By Mike in Tokyo Rogers


Summertime in Hot Hot Hot Tokyo, Japan

Japan has a lot of funny and strange things, but one of the funniest is how news is reported completely out of context as the gospel truth.

One such oft-cited example I recall is how, in the late 1980's CNN would report that melons in Tokyo - that the average Japanese housewife would buy for home - cost $200 each... That wasn't just a gross exaggeration, it was just plain incorrect.

Tokyo is expensive. It's not that expensive.

Sure there were $200 melons... But there were also $5 dollar melons too. The housewives bought the $5 dollar melons for home... The $200 dollar melons were sold at stores that are usually near hospitals, and those melons were brought as presents for the well-to-do and their friends convalescing in bed in those hospitals.

People in the west, especially, the well-to-do think nothing of spending $100 or $200 dollars or much more on flowers for someone in the hospital right?

You can't eat roses. At least one can eat a melon.

Now there's a buzz about a a video that was uploaded onto YouTube a few years ago about a swimming pool in Tokyo that is so crowded that you cannot see the water! What a zoo of people!

video

This has caused an Internet sensation...

So much of a sensation that some Tokyoites and even the Japanese Media have claimed that this is not Tokyo, Japan, it is actually China! Japan? China? Which is it?

This has become so much of a controversy that I even had a friend from Germany call me up to try to confirm the story!

Gee, how do I confirm this? Well, I checked the story and the links and I stumbled upon the original link. The original link is at a site called JapanTrends.

Well, lucky me! I just so happens that I am a very good friend with Mr. Michael Keferl, one of the good folks who runs Japan Trends. I called Michael up and was so lucky to catch him as he was at Narita Airport waiting for a flight.

Get this! Michael confirms that this is indeed a video taken in Tokyo. He was there when it was taken. In fact, he took the video! He was proud to say that this is the most viewed video on YouTube that he has ever made. He also said that he has been called a liar and a fraud but he just laughs it off...

"I was there. I saw it. I took the video. I think the Japanese just don't like to admit that Japan can be as crowded as China!" Michael added.

Well, so there we have it. Direct from the horses mouth. Video shot in Tokyo at Summerland, as a matter of fact.

China is that crowded though most of the time (in my limited experience!) Oh yes. China is scary crowded. I've been to Chinese New Year's before and there was an estimated 4 million people at the festivities packed into one and one half square miles to watch the fireworks on the Kowloon side of Hong Kong harbor that we were lucky enough to watch from our hotel window... Now that was crowded! It was a ocean of people like I've never seen before.

I watched from the 3rd floor balcony of our hotel and saw waves of people, at least 400 yards wide in both directions, packed like cattle, marching as far as the eye could see... It was indeed frightening to witness such a mass of humanity; almost enough to cause a panic reaction in me. It was frightening to say the least....

So, Mr. Keferl, my friend, who I've drank with and enjoyed good times with before confirms it. That is  proof positive that this is Tokyo! So this should end this silly rumor once and for all! End of questioning!... Until, of course, at least, next summer when this makes the rounds again!

So thanks to my good friend, Michael Keferl and Japan Trends.

Japan Trends is a great place to go see information about Japan stuff and gadgets!

See the original article from 2007 here.

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Keywords:


China, Summertime in Hot Tokyo, Japan Trends, CNN, Japan, Marketing Japan, Mike Rogers, Japan, Summertime, Tokyo, Mike in Tokyo Rogers, Lew Rockwell

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Airplane 4! Adventures of .com Domain with .jp Sub-Folder Fools in Japan.....

By Mike in Tokyo Rogers

I am often simply astounded by the foolishness of companies from the west that come to Japan and think that they can control what is going on here from 6,000 miles away.

As is well-known, "Japan is a different animal altogether." What I'm talking about is how many companies have .com domains that they use for Japan and add a /jp subfolder.

I could give you a litany of examples of foolish companies that do so, there's hundreds of them in Japan. Why do they do this? It defies theory, logic, simple math and common sense... (It also completely ignores what other companies are doing and doing so well as is shown by a simple comparison of competitors on a Google search).

I wonder if the supposed "experts" on the Internet running these .com domains back in the States or Europe bother to read what Google has on their blog everyday. It seems that they don't. You'd think that they'd keep up with the latest information, but, alas, I guess not.

I found this mistake in execution the other day on a very famous airlines web site in Japan and pointed it out to their Japanese staff, who, in a flabbergasted fashion, threw their arms in the air, shrugged their shoulders and said, "We know. But HQ won't even discuss changing it."

Well, I see a problem on two sides here. One, is an HQ that is not keeping up on current information and may have a control-freak problem and the second is a Japanese staff who do not have the desire and drive to succeed enough to study up on the problem and the balls to stand up and explain such a vitally important problem to the HQ. (But, to cut the Japanese staff some slack, perhaps this is a problem of company culture). How could anyone, if they understood the problem, not be able to explain to HQ why a .jp or .co.jp site is critical to success in Japan is beyond me. It is so very simple.

I mean, seriously, whatever side you look at it from, what's the point of having boots on the ground in a local area of they do not, or cannot, report faithfully the facts on the ground to HQ?

I've heard this same sort of thing before from other airlines, "Oh, HQ absolutely won't do it...." But when we took the time to explain it to the in-charge here in Japan, and they expressed an intense interest in understanding why, once they understood then they had the guts to demand an audience with HQ...

Guess what? Those companies do have domestic domains now.

Just two of the big names include:

Virgin Airlines (no surprise there for aggressive and smart marketing)
Air New Zealand (ditto - painting naked ladies!? See the video that wowed over 5 million people here.)

(Also let me put in a plug here for my favorite European destination, Croatia, too)
Croatian Government Tourism (www.croatia.jp)

Why have these organizations jumped in front of the pack to setup .co.jp or .jp domains before the rest of the foreign companies and organizations? It's just plain smart business.

How an HQ in 2010 could be so dense and protective of their jobs that they actually damage the company profitability, by being so obstinate, is a crime in my mind. The only explanation can be that they don't understand the problem.

Make no mistake about what we are talking about here. We are not talking about company politics or protecting someone's position; what we are talking about here is the absolute bottom line. We are talking about company profits. How in the world someone could be so obstinate and closed minded that they would not hear out rational argument on a subject (especially a subject that changes and evolves as fast as the Internet) is no less than incompetency or gross dereliction of duty.

Let me put on my corporate hat here and say that employees need to sacrifice and go the extra step for the good of the company. Sitting on their duff and shrugging their shoulders is not getting the job done. The Japanese staff are definitely smart enough and should be aggressively compiling irrefutable data to build their case.

You'd also think that these airlines companies that all lost huge amounts of money last year would be actively seeking out more and better ways to better their service and increase passengers while increasing profit per passenger. Especially since online bookings very profitable for an airlines... These airline's  online booking business in Japan must be hurting from these poor setups.

I wrote the basic theory about this concept about .com versus .jp here. It is written so simply that I suppose even the people at airlines HQ's can understand it.

Now, I will explain mathematically why a .com/jp (or even a www.jp.airline.com site) is not effective. A .com/jp site is not effective because .com/jp is a subdomain. It is not given priority in any search. There is a good reason for it.

This is very simple math, so please pay attention airlines folks. There won't be a test after this article, but it could save your job because if you are here and do not demand this to be fixed (or, if you are in the USA and are dim enough to insist that your .com domain with a sub-folder or sub-domain is sufficient for world-wide use... Get ready for a job change, because someone is going to come along soon and bump you out of a job.) This is not just theory or wishes anymore, this is simple grade-school mathematics.

It's called persistence and striving for excellence.

But back to the problem...Google search engine, for example, uses an algorithm for search. (The new Google algorithm system is coming online in Japan in a few months. Read about the US version here. When that new system comes to Japan, companies operating in Japan had better be ready.)

If a .com is the domain, then on a Google search it gets 100% priority (this is why .co.jp and .jp sites get 100% priority in Japan)... If that very same .com domain has other languages as sub-folders, then that means each sub-folder shares in a percentage of that domain. If the .com domain is setup with japanese as the basic language - and not a sub-folder or sub-domain of English - then the .com domain works fine.

But this is a problem of language and bit space taken by hierogylphics... er, I mean kanji.

Understand? If there are five languages; then the sub-folder will give them each 20% on a search for a certain term. If there are ten languages, each will only get 10% returns... And so on...

In the case of most foreign airlines in Japan, they have dozens of languages in their sub-folder so Japanese gets about a 5% weight (if that much) in a Google search using Japanese language here in Japan. That means that these airlines voluntarily throw away 95% (more actually) of their possible Japanese customers who do random searches, using Japanese language and kanji, on the Internet.

People who search "航空" (Airlines) will get domestic airlines using a Japanese language based search as their #1 result. (Of course, but this doesn't serve the foreign airlines goals well at all.)

Try any foreign carrier and insert their SEO into a Google search (on Google.com or Google.co.jp - it doesn't matter)... The English based .com with /jp sub-folders won't even show up the foreign airlines in the top ten page returns.

Of course, in a search for a very common term such as "航空券"(airline ticket) the top four results of 24,200,000 are:

Japan Airlines: www.jal.co.jp
SkyMark Airlines: www.skymark.co.jp
Kokunaisen (a ticket aggregator): www.kokunaisen.com
All Nippon Airways: www.ana.co.jp

Notice anything special about these top returns? By the way, Kokunaisen, the aggregator site is 100% in Japanese, there is no sub-folder or sub-domain for Japan. Kokunaisen.com is the Japanese site. Like I said, any foreign carrier using a sub domain or sub-folder set-up will not show up in the first ten pages of a search.

Anyone with the most basic understanding of how SEO works (with an understanding of how Japanese language is 2 bits per character and Roman alphabet is 1 bit per character) would know that this situation for foreign carriers in Japan is intolerable. Why this continues in a tough market whereby airlines are losing passengers by the day is inconceivable.

The purpose of this blog is to help you to market Japan. I have shown the gross mistakes of many companies in the past including Pepsi, Universal Studios, Wendy's, Burger King, Carrefour, and many more. I explain the mistakes that these big companies make (and, incredibly, keep repeating over and over) so that you don't have to.

Perhaps someone at the airline's HQ in the USA or Europe will see this and wake up the troops. They should. They are losing money with this set-up...

Hopefully, they'll thank me... Doubtful... 20 years ago Otsuya Seiyaku didn't thank me either when I went on a popular late night radio program and said that their product, "Calorie-Mate" tasted like cardboard (Two years later they released Strawberry and Chocolate flavors - while improving the taste of "cardboard" and their sales of Calorie-Mate quadrupled. You know they paid R&D millions to come up with something I could have told them, and did, for the cost of less than a half-a-sandwich).

Anyhow, foreign carriers, I've pointed out that your tires are leaking air in Japan.... What are you going to do about it? Keep driving around on them? Be my guest.

This coming weekend, I will layout more mathematical evidence from a language based perspective why a .com English based site using sub-folders or sub-domains in Japan is a poor way to run any Internet site.

For a hint: Imagine that your site is in hieroglyphics... How is it possible that an English based site, with sub-folders or sub-domains, could possibly return as high of results as a site built on hieroglyphics? This is what your English based .com with sub-folder is doing... Your priority is low, so your will not show up at the top page....

If you are not in the top 5 on the first page of a search, you are not even in the game.

Japanese kanji are like hieroglyphics.

In the meantime, for proper background information that you need to comprehend this problem, (especially if you are not bilingual Japanese/English or Korean/English) see Wikipedia about Altaic languages of which Japanese is one...  People who do not speak two languages probably will have a hard time grasping this concept. It is important to understanding the problem.

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