Japan-US Business Report Logo

No. 353, February 1999

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American Companies in Japan


The Microelectronics Materials Division of CABOT CORP. has inaugurated operations at its chemical mechanical planarization slurry facility in Geino, Mie prefecture (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 342, March 1998, p. 27). The plant has the capacity to serve the entire CMP slurry demand of semiconductor makers not only in Japan but also in the rest of the Asian Pacific market. The facility will allow Cabot to improve delivery times and overall product support to its regional customers. They previously had to be supplied from either Cabot's two American plants or a factory in Wales.

Two household names in the personal-care business — JOHNSON & JOHNSON and SHISEIDO CO., LTD., the top manufacturer of cosmetics in Japan — have forged a marketing alliance on skin and hair products. For starters, J&J will develop Shiseido's Super Mild brand of shampoo and conditioner for marketing in the Asian Pacific region outside Japan as Johnson's Super Mild. These products will debut this summer in Australia and the People's Republic of China. For its part, Shiseido will develop J&J's Neutrogena skin-care products for sale in Japan. The line will be marketed by a company that the cosmetics maker set up in February. PRIER CO., LTD. is looking for revenues of $4.4 billion in the first year of marketing, which could start this coming fall. The J&J-Shiseido partnership grew out of a 10-year R&D relationship. Other cooperative marketing deals as well as joint research on hair and skin products could occur in the future, the two companies said.

Competition is stiff in Japan's razor market, but the battle for sales is mainly between a pair of American heavyweights. Late last year, GILLETTE CO., the world's largest maker of razors but the number three in Japan, announced its MACH3 triple-blade shaving system (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 351, December 1998, p. 27). Now, local market leader WARNER-LAMBERT CO. has introduced its own new product, the Schick SlimTwin disposable razor. A package of three costs about $2.40.

The Tokyo subsidiary of AMERICAN RECREATION PRODUCTS INC. will take over distribution of the Sierra Design brand of outdoor products starting with merchandise for the spring/summer season. The St. Louis manufacturer had hoped to continue dealing with exclusive distributor OKURA SPORTS CO., LTD., even though that company's parent went bankrupt (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 349, October 1998, p. 29). That proved unworkable. Sierra Design products are available at some 300 retailers across the country. About half of the line is designed specifically for the Japanese market.

NIKE INC. has moved into the golf ball market in Japan as well as in the United States and Europe. It is offering local golfers four choices that differ by drive distance, feel, 8-iron spin and wedge accuracy. The Nike Tour Control, Spin Control, Distance Control and Distance balls are priced between $3.50 and $6.20 each.

Electronically generated coupons tailored to a customer's purchases are now offered at two of Japan's five biggest supermarket chains. In fairly quick succession, the majority-owned subsidiary of CATALINA MARKETING CORP. signed JUSCO CO., LTD. and SEIYU, LTD. to introduce the Catalina Marketing Network in all of their stores. The St. Petersburg, Florida company estimates that its program now reaches nearly 7 million shoppers in more than 300 stores every week in Japan. Jusco and Seiyu both participated in the test-marketing of the system.

High-resolution, satellite-captured images of the earth will be marketed in Japan by MITSUBISHI CORP. under an agreement with SPACE IMAGING INC. The Sunnyvale, California firm, owned in part by LOCKHEED MARTIN CORP., will compile data transmitted from two satellites that will be launched for it later this year into digital maps. The extremely detailed information is expected to find wide use in ITS (intelligent transportation system) and GIS (geographical information system) applications. Although the trader already has formed a firm to represent Space Imaging, it will seek other investors in this new business.

HERTZ CORP. might be the world's largest car rental company, but it has no on-the-ground presence in the economy second only to the United States' in size. It now has come up with a second-best solution: a tie- in with TOYOTA MOTOR CORP.'s rent-a-car operation. Under an agreement in principle that could be finalized in April, Hertz will promote Toyota's service to its customers interested in renting a vehicle in Japan. In turn, Toyota, whose network of 65 companies with 1,100 locations around Japan makes it the biggest car-rental company in the country, will display the Hertz logo at its rental counters to increase awareness of the Hertz name for people traveling abroad who might want to rent a car. Customers who have one of the cards issued by the two rental agencies also will be eligible for discounted rates when they contract with the partner for a vehicle.

To provide better information to its clients around the world on economic and financial developments in Japan and elsewhere in Asia, PRIMARK DECISION ECONOMICS, INC. has opened an office in Tokyo. The unit of Waltham, Massachusetts-based PRIMARK CORP. develops financial and economic forecasts, analyses and commentary for an international client list that includes financial institutions, multinationals and government agencies. Primark Decision Economics also believes that a local presence will help it improve service to Asian subscribers to its services.

META GROUP, INC., a Stamford, Connecticut research and consulting company that specializes in the information technology field, has tied up with ITR CONSULTING CO., LTD., both to bring its services directly to Japanese clients and to bolster its information base about IT developments in Japan. Through the independent Tokyo research firm, META will be able to provide Japanese-language coverage of the latest technologies, industry trends and business challenges to client companies. It also can offer customized research and consulting for these firms.

Help is on the way for manufacturers having trouble disposing of excess inventories. ATWOOD RICHARDS INC., which claims the title of the leading U.S. corporate barter company, has contracted with 3S WORLDWIDE INC. to represent it in Japan. Initially, the Tokyo start-up hopes to enlist 300 or so consumer goods makers to sign up for the New York City company's service. It will appraise the value of a company's surplus stocks and issue it a trade credit that can be used to acquire goods or services from other members of the Atwood Richards/Japan network. Products obtained by 3S Worldwide will be reassessed by Atwood Richards and then sold in the 26 countries in which the corporate broker operates. The company expects to do $2.7 million worth of business in Japan in the first year.

Real-time international financial news provider BRIDGE INFORMATION SYSTEMS INC. has extended for five years an agreement with KYODO NEWS MARKETS CO., LTD. set to expire in 2000 covering the exclusive distribution in Japan of real-time financial information from TELERATE, INC., now a Bridge subsidiary. Under a separate arrangement, Kyodo News also will distribute all Bridge products except for most of the New York City company's equity products; they will continue to be handled by Bridge's Japanese subsidiary. Among the Bridge and Telerate products to be sold by Kyodo News are data on short-term capital, fixed asset, foreign exchange and commodity markets. Over the near term, Bridge hopes to migrate all of these services to digital networks and to Internet distribution.

An exchange rate of ¥117=$1.00 was used in this report.aaaaaa

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