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Establish New Brands That Have Emerging Market Authenticity

Feb 3, 2008
Consider Japan after World War II. The nation's industrial base had taken a pounding. Because Japan lacks most raw materials, the country needed to export goods in those days of gold-backed currencies if the Japanese were to be able to purchase the oil, minerals, and agricultural goods needed to sustain the nation.

Those first postwar exports were often made in factories on jury-rigged equipment that produced only low quality offerings. But Japanese people worked long and hard for low wages, and their goods found a market among those who wanted to pay a low price and were relatively insensitive to quality.

The label "Made in Japan" by 1950 stood for something that was shoddy and wouldn't last long . . . unless, of course, the product was a hand embroidered silk kimono. Such a lovely item was the envy of the world, and visitors to Japan almost always returned with some.

First with consumer electronics and later with cars, Japan reformed its reputation by creating innovative designs, pioneering high quality manufacturing techniques, and adapting rapidly to changes in consumer markets. Today, in many parts of the world, "Made in Japan" means high quality backed by wonderful service -- epitomized now perhaps best by Lexus, Toyota's trade-up brand.

Many Asian nations learned to do the same, but in different industries. The Asian Tigers of South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Singapore soon benefited from following Japan's example.

What's missing from this picture? People first fell in love with the vivid, authentic designs and wonderful workmanship of those Japanese kimonos. That love could have been transformed into substantial growth in products based on such art and apparel. It still could.

But there's a larger opportunity. Currently the global standard for many products and services is built around either an American or European model.

People wear jeans that are designed to improve on those first developed by Levi Strauss and VF Corporation. Much sportswear has a European look based on Italian designs.

Occasionally, fashion has come out of the lesser developed world into the developed countries such as the Nehru suit many years ago. Few are developing new international clothing designs that have authentic roots in one country, but have been adjusted to be appealing to those in a variety of countries. Such products, if based on those from Japan, might feature silk blouses and shirts with marvelous oriental designs embroidered into or hand painted onto them.

Those would be high-end products, of course. So how might a step-up apparel line be created? It would make the most sense to create apparel that would appeal to the greatest number of people.

One possible route would be for an apparel maker to sign up Chinese celebrities to create their own lines of clothing that the celebrities would wear at all times. Inexpensive versions of those lines would be sold throughout China and wherever Chinese people live. Chances are that if these are good designs, the designs would soon catch on among non-Chinese people as well. Versions of the goods that employ better materials and tailoring can be offered for those who want to pay top yuan (pun intended).

Many people reading this idea will be unimpressed with that opportunity. The so-called rag trade has long been a tough way to earn a living.

But the same concepts apply to producing consumer electronics, foods, restaurant chains, and television shows with the authentic look and feel of another country with a rich artistic heritage. In that last category, the popularity of British musicals (anything by Andrew Lloyd Webber) and television shows (Masterpiece Theater rebroadcasts of BBC shows) in the United States has long shown the way for such culturally based exports.

What cultures can provide new authentic offerings you can provide that will excite hundreds of millions of customers?
About the Author
Donald Mitchell is an author of seven books including Adventures of an Optimist, The 2,000 Percent Squared Solution, The 2,000 Percent Solution, The 2,000 Percent Solution Workbook, The Irresistible Growth Enterprise, and The Ultimate Competitive Advantage. Read about creating breakthroughs through 2,000 percent solutions and receive tips by e-mail by registering for free at

http://www.2000percentsolution.com .
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