Continuing from last month, we examine why the brand power of ‘Made in Japan’ has declined, both from specific examples and from a management-side angle.


Home appliances: In the past, Japanese home appliances were admired around the world for their high quality and long life. However, in recent years, with the rise of South Korean and Chinese manufacturers, Japanese home appliances have become less competitive in terms of price. In addition, smart appliances utilising IoT technology have been in demand in recent years, but Japanese appliance manufacturers have been slow to respond to these new technologies.


Pharmaceuticals: Japanese pharmaceutical manufacturers have a strong global reputation for developing new drugs. However, in recent years they have been losing price competitiveness due to the rise of generic drugs and the entry of manufacturers from emerging countries. In addition, open innovation in drug discovery has been emphasised in recent years, but Japanese pharmaceutical manufacturers have not been able to respond to these developments.


Sony: Sony once took the world by storm with innovative products such as the Walkman and PlayStation. However, in recent years the company has struggled in the smartphone market and is losing its former luster. Sony’s weak marketing capabilities are symbolised by its failure in the smartphone market. Sony has failed to clearly define its target customers and develop effective marketing strategies in the smartphone market.


SHARP: Sharp once held the top share of the LCD TV market. However, in recent years it has rapidly lost market share due to the rise of Chinese and Korean manufacturers. Sharp’s weak marketing capabilities are symbolised by its failure in the LCD TV market. Sharp was inferior in terms of price competitiveness and failed to develop an effective marketing strategy in the LCD TV market.


Panasonic: Panasonic used to enjoy a high market share in all consumer electronics products. However, in recent years the company has been restructuring its business and has sold off a number of businesses. Panasonic’s weak marketing capabilities are symbolised by its declining share of the consumer electronics market. Panasonic has not been able to develop competitive products in the consumer electronics market and has not developed an effective marketing strategy.


Toshiba, Fujitsu and Sharp were once iconic Japanese manufacturers, but for a variety of reasons, including the downsizing of their electrical appliance and personal computer businesses in recent years and the loss of the LCD TV market, they are currently experiencing a significant downturn in performance and a management crisis that is a shadow of their former self.

There are many possible reasons, but the most important reason is the rigidity of the management structure. The decision-making process has been slow and the company has continued with ad hoc product-out ‘manufacturing’ without understanding the needs of the market, which has led to the management crisis.


It is difficult to revive ‘monozukuri’ Japan and Made in Japan unless the market-in style is based on an understanding of market needs, rather than product-out, where we make what we want to make from the aspect of global standards.