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Up to the Launch of a New Sake Service Brand – Market Research

Our next topic was scheduled to be “How will the world change when we can deliver sake in small lots?” but before that, I would like to summarize what I would like to organize in my mind.

When I start something new, I always start with market research.

Around 1996, in the wake of the Asian crisis, Japanese companies needed to find new overseas markets to expand into. The Internet had just begun to take off. Major companies were able to obtain a certain amount of information through their own information channels, but they needed information beyond that, so I was asked to help them.

What to look for in market research

I have been working for four and a half years and have prepared market reports in more than 30 countries. What is it that you do, and

 - What is the product line?
 - What is the size of the market?
 - Who are the companies in the market?
 - What are the characteristics of the products?
 - What is the distribution system?
 - What is the price range?
 - Why are the products in the spotlight growing?

In two to three months, you will research and report on these issues through interviews with key persons, market research reports, newspaper/magazine articles, and so on.

Within a few days of receiving the proposal from my boss, I get a quick grasp of the industry as a whole, make a list of must-haves, in-depth research, and can’t-miss items, and create a superiority rating for each item. Then, we draw an outline of the report in our mind and create a situation like a fill-in-the-blanks question, filling in the blanks as we proceed with the research, sometimes changing the structure to create the report.

This process of overseas market research has helped me a lot since starting id10 Japan and thinking about “making sake a global brand” with sake as the theme in my mind. So the first thing I set out to do was to collect market reports.

Nowadays, unlike 20-30 years ago, a variety of information is available on the Internet. Reports are published in a very detailed manner, and many of them are freely available.

Even if you are collecting market reports, you need to limit your time to research. We will collect information by determining the superiority of what information should be collected, and what information is good to know as reference information but not necessary to spend time to research.

Sake Export Handbook

As those in the sake industry may already know, this report, “Sake Export Handbook,” prepared by JETRO and the National Tax Agency, is a good reference to get an overview, even though the information is out of date.


As I read through the report, I noticed that it assumes “large lots are shipped by sea and delivered by local importers/distributors for wholesale to stores and restaurants. This report was not intended for our business model of selling directly to restaurants and individuals, or delivering in small lots. Still, it was useful information considering that I would have to go to each country to investigate on my own.

What to pay attention to: “System,” “Pricing System,” and “Distribution

In the report, I paid attention to “system,” “price system,” and “distribution. I did not pay much attention to preferences, since they can change left or right depending on the management policy and targets. However, the “system,” “price structure,” and “distribution” are always around. These are information that should be constantly updated in order to determine whether to fight on top of the status quo or aim for a different approach as an innovator. Therefore, we started by carefully reading these reports and setting hypotheses.

*Mr. JETRO and the National Tax Agency, we look forward to an updated version of your “Sake Export Handbook!”

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