In the process of globalization, many companies extend their business in the countries all over the world. Our company originates in the United States. At the same time, it has won a competitive position in Europe. Currently, the objective is the successful entering of the Japanese market. Selling bicycles in Japan differs from the selling to the European consumers. I have the honor of heading the new multi-cultural team of our company in this new location. I will take some employees from the USA, and the others will be hired among the natives. The common success depends on sharing the same principles and values of cooperation. We will have to understand and respond to the new cultural claims and achieve the result in another communicative and economic environment. The Japanese are generally secluded people and they can experience the effects of a communicative barrier in multi-cultural team. Success in this market requires relevance to the highest standards of quality and appreciation of the respected authority. This cultural brief will help to adapt the American workers to the business strategies and peculiarities of mentality of the Japanese members of the team and the potential consumers.
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Description of the Country
History and Geography
Japan is an island nation located on the arc-shaped archipelago, consisting of more than 6.8 thousand islands that stretch along the east coast of Asia . The total area of the islands of Japan is about 378 thousand square kilometers . Only four of the islands can be called large ones. They are Hokkaido, Honshu, Shikoku, and Kyushu. The largest island bridges and underwater tunnels have allowed turning scattered territorial space in a single overland infrastructure .
Mountains are a characteristic feature of the Japanese archipelago. They cover 71% of the land, and only a few areas along the coasts or the bed of large rivers are plains and lowlands bordered by mountain ranges . The most famous mountain in Japan is Fuji. Every year, more than half a million people make the ascension of Mount Fuji, and some choose bicycles as means of transportation for getting there. The demand for bicycles can be complicated by the peculiarities of landscape. Mountain biking models will have greater success. The argument of nature preserving should not be neglected in the development of the marketing strategies. Profile of Inhabitants
The constant threat of earthquakes and the lack of lands acceptable for cultivation have contributed to the specific alert Japanese character that makes people look for any possible advantage and make the best of it. In other words, the people in Japan have traditionally lived in the hard and dangerous natural conditions that hardened the national spirit of the nation.
In terms of population, Japan is far ahead of the developed countries such as Germany, France, Britain, and Italy. There were 127.1 million people in 2004, which placed Japan at the 7th place in the world for the number of population. The economically active population constitutes more than half of residents of Japan. Japan has a relatively small number of unemployed people, which can be explained by a high rate of economic development and specific labor relations. The Japanese make up 99.4% of population.
The population has good level of income and a good purchasing capability. Selling bicycles promises success among people striving for the healthy way of living and preserving nature. Political System
Public-political structure of Japan is a constitutional monarchy. The Emperor is the head and a symbol of people's unity and integrity of the state. The monarch produces all appointments to public. He is directly responsible for the efficiency of the appointed executives. In meetings with foreign guests, the Emperor of Japan plays the role of the head of state. Currently, Akihito is the monarch of the country.
The Japanese parliament is the highest authority for the exercise of power in the state and legislative activities. The House of Councillors and the House of Representatives constitute bicameral parliament. MPs from the House of Representatives are elected for 4 years, and 480 people are elected as MPs. The 252 members of the House of Councillors are elected for 6 years. The United States and Japan are the economic and trade partners. The basis for continued cooperation is an agreement on security cooperation between the two countries. Since 1956, Japan has been the member of the United Nations..
Development of the marketing plan can include advertising with the official people using bicycles for getting to their workplace in the big cities. Hierarchy is very important to the Japanese. Economic System
As for the economic development, Japan ranks second in the world with GDP of about 4.5 trillion dollars. It is the third largest economy in the world after the USA and China on a purchasing power parity. The development of high technologies gives the considerable percent of total production. Japan has a well-developed network of high-speed railways and expressways. The structure of exports consists of transport vehicles, automobiles, motorcycles, electronics, electrical engineering, and chemicals. It is important to note, that Japanese appreciate speedy transportation and the high quality goods. Therefore, the models for selling in Japan should correspond to the demands of competition on the Japanese market.
Culture of the Country
Traditions and Customs
Japan is a specific example of the fusion of East and West. The country is a special world that preserves the uniqueness of the national culture and, at the same time, shows the possibilities to absorb the achievements of other cultures. Active borrowing from other countries and economics do not deprive Japan of its originality. Throughout all stages of country’s development, the Japanese have expressed special sensitivity to beauty, the ability to bring it into the world in everyday life.
Japan is called the country of the rising sun. The sun in the center of its national flag, which represents the perfect and flourishing state. It is a symbol of light, wealth, and abundance.
The Japanese culture is based on the ritual and strict adherence and preservation of old traditions in combination with the high-tech technology. Since the Middle Ages, the traditional Japanese costume, national interior, literary, tea ceremony and many other traditions have remained nearly unchanged (Sosnoski, 2013). At the same time, the Japanese have managed to surround old customs and traditions with the ultra-modern technological civilization. Riding a bicycle should become a tradition or ritual in order to get wider popularity.
Values and Ethics
Almost all spheres of national life are imbued with the traditions and ceremonies, notably the communication between people. Values and ethics of the Japanese are unavoidably connected with the nature. Clarity of perception and mind is the primary basis for the national philosophy. People admire the natural beauty of the landscape, weather, flowers, or the sea. Numerous ceremonies imply contemplation of flowering trees, full moon or the autumn colors. Bicycle as a means of open air transportation has a special advantage in comparison with vehicles.
Life Style and Common Business Practices
The Japanese life style and business practices show the utmost closeness to the nature and its harmonic order. The Japanese have a high collectivistic spirit and a strong system of hierarchy. The Japanese business practices are inextricably linked to the new environment friendly technologies and ethno psychology of the people of Japan. For those who are going to succeed in business with Japan, the study of business etiquette is absolutely necessary. The Japanese vision of life is difficult for a foreigner’s perception. However, the concentration on the observation of some definite strategies in communication can give tangible result in building successful business international cooperation.
Key Business Strategies
With all the variety of components, the Japanese business ethics can be divided into two groups: rigid rules and aspects where the compromise is acceptable.
Strategies for Promoting Successful Business Growth
When coming in contact with Japanese, one must remember that there are three important objections in the Japanese business ethics: do not come to the meeting without a business card; have the materials about the company and its offer; do not deviate from the protocol in dress and appearance.
A business card is the key element of business culture and its hallmark. Low crime rate and the lack of propensity to fraud encourages people to state their personal data and the name of a major company or organization represented. It is the evidence of reliability of the credit card holder. After receiving a business card, the Japanese businessman always puts it in front of him to be able to spy once again the name of the interlocutor. Of course, an apology for the lack of business cards will be accepted, perhaps with a good sense of humor, but there is no doubt that the first impression of a serious partner will be blurred.
The second key element of business culture is the profound and precise description of the business plan. The vision of the process and technology as well as the investment plan is the primary element of a successful presentation. The job is in conviction that the task was made scrupulously and accurately with utmost attention and without any negligence. The tactical view to the first meeting should show a clear ownership of the issues and items for anyone who comes in contact with the Japanese firm. The delay in response to the financial issues can seriously alert one’s partners.
Finally, a business suit is very noticeable. Attire and appearance in the Japanese business world is very conservative. It corresponds to certain rules of dress code recognized as belonging to the same business community. Upon contact with the Japanese businessmen, suit and tie are required; however, the tie may be of most radical colors. Clothing must be clean, especially shoes.
Strategies for Addressing the Cultural Perspectives of Your New Customers
The Japanese do not consider handshakes to be appropriate. They replace them with bows. Return bows require the same frequency and reverence shown by the communicants. The Japanese are polite and helpful in communication. The hospitality of the Japanese is a long preserved tradition as well. The direct refusal is not accepted, even if it is impossible to comply with the request, one should think in advance about the feasibility of his/her wishes.
The tradition of smiling in the Japanese culture can be sometimes misleading. All the times, even in case of denial or some unpleasant moment, women will show a smile that can confuse many foreigners. At the same time, too small distance between the interlocutors is completely unacceptable and it creates a sharply negative attitude. Looking directly into one’s eyes is impolite. It is perceived as aggression, the same as active gesticulating.
Strategies for addressing the cultural perspectives of a Japanese employee include the ability to work collectively and for the common good. The American members of the team should try to work out a reserved manner in communication with the Japanese workers. Contemplating attitude to the running process of life and common business can be helpful. Visiting traditional Japanese events and taking part in a tea ceremony can help in better understanding of the Japanese vision of life. Business cooperation in the new multi-cultural team should be based on mutual respect and comprehension of both sides’ ideas.
Being helpful, smiling, and reserved is a way to make a good first impression and show the seriousness of the intentions and respect to the partner. Individualistic forms of behavior should be avoided and forgotten in the new team. The positive first impression is prior to any business plan, so a pack of quality business cards and expensive classical suit are necessary. Succinct and comprehensive content of the business plan presentation is the second step to success. The confident looks, expressiveness of voice, or emotional gesticulations are useless. The clarity of the vision of the ways to success will matter.
Selling bicycles can be a promising business in Japan because people adhere to the ecology friendly technologies and active life style. Being secluded in their cultural world, the Japanese show tolerance to the representatives of other countries. Respectful and reserved manner of product presentation along with the advice of some local authority can produce the best result in advertising company.