If one needs proof that globality is real, the tangible evidence was at our February 26th launch of the Truth about Global Brands Asia Pacific edition in Tokyo, Japan: a Lebanese-American New Yorker, together with a Connecticut-born 15+ year resident of Asia, and a Japanese citizen who recently moved back to Tokyo after 7 years in Shanghai co-presented findings tailored specifically for the region.
Despite the fact that “Asia Pacific” is a term often used to bucket the countries within this region together, the report reveals how culturally disparate they truly are. The study also finds that there is tremendous pride in each country’s identity and the desire to celebrate it even as the world becomes increasingly connected. In fact, we selected Japan (and Hong Kong) to launch the work specifically because the two countries exhibit significant shifts in their cultures, albeit in different ways. For example, Japan is on the brink of a new era in which people are interested in and excited about participating with the outside world. Hong Kong, on the other hand, is reassessing its own identity while reconnecting with its cultural roots.
To make the Truth about Global Brands Asia Pacific actionable for those in the room, a panel of three distinguished clients were on hand to discuss the findings. Each panelist is making waves in their own way by exporting “Japanese-ness” using methods in line with the principles of Deep Globality. Mr. Shintaro Kuritaof the LINE Corporation, Japan’s most popular social networking site due its emphasis on privacy, spoke about the importance of being savvy about culture – both within his own culture, and when experimenting with new ideas abroad. For instance, since people in Japan don’t say “I love you” with great frequency, he developed fun visual representations of love that can easily be shared between friends and family on the platform. Going deep for him means taking the distinctive brand of Japanese quirkiness overseas, and allowing users to select the functionalities they like best. For Ramadan, he took a pair of popular cartoon characters, and outfitted them in traditional Islamic garb so Muslim users could comfortably communicate with each other during the holiday. Mr. Kurita’s approach is to create as many culturally relevant ideas, spread them throughout the world, and see which ones stick.
On the other side of the coin is the work Mr. Tatsuo Hayashiis doing with Kirin, a world-renowned Japanese beer brand rooted strongly in its country of origin. On the panel, he talked about his challenge of exporting “brand Japan” in a way that appeals to other cultures, without losing the special elements that make it Japanese. He and his team had the brilliant idea of creating a frozen beer slushie called Ichiban Shibori Frozen Draft, a refreshing summertime drink that appeals to Kirin and non-Kirin drinkers alike. Starting in South Korea, Mr. Hayashi explained how the company built pop-up shops and social media campaigns, then left the idea in the hands of the young generation. On the wings of Instagram and Facebook, news of the drink spread throughout the region and beyond, illustrating the notiohn of celebrating a great idea by allowing it to travel freely. There are now plans to expand the product and the pop-up shops to New York andother major cities around the world.
Looking around the room during the sessions, I was struck by how much the discussions seemed to resonate with the audience. It is clear that something exciting is going on in the Japanese zeitgeist at the moment – an enormous pride in their own heritage and culture, yes – but at the same time, a refreshing sense of creative experimentation and entrepreneurialism. We hope that the findings from the research, coupled with the insightful perspectives from our pioneering guests, equipped the audience with fresh ways of working in the new era of Deep Globality.