Friday, August 17, 2012

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Marketing to hotels and health clubs

So anyway I've been busy at work recently, searching for prospective customers in the UK to whom I might be able to sell Marutaka Techno's products. As Marutaka Techno doesn't sell directly to the end-user, I have to root out fairly large scale companies that might place substantial orders for our products. The company's products currently sell fairly well in hotels and spas across Japan, so I've decided to go down the same route for the UK entry plan.

I'm finally back at the workplace and it feels so good to be around human beings who actually talk to me! I didn't really make the most of my one-week holiday, but I did see fireworks with one of my colleagues and his family and I finally got a Tsutaya membership so that I can start renting out DVDs.However, having free time usually means having to fill that free time with something to do. Filling free time with something to do often costs money so I'm saving by coming to work (you see how I just talked myself into coming back to work for free?)

the foot massage machines could sell well in high class hotels like this one

Although I've not really gone into real detail on Marutaka Techno's products, judging by the pictures here I'm sure you can imagine the kinds of price tags on these wares. With such high prices, we can't simply sell to any old folk. Marutaka Techno's products attempt to relieve both pain and stress through techniques like traditional massaging, acupressure treatment and even electrotherapy. As you can tell, these are fairly niche products in the sense that Marutaka only caters to a specific set of customers from the wider health industry. In doing so, the engineers have been able to focus on developing and producing top notch technology in order to retain their position as experts in the field.

You can see in the video above that Marutaka Techno has developed state of the art technology designed to relieve fatigue and muscle tension. While the company does develop a fairly wide variety of products, they always stay within the bounds of the health and massage machines niche. I doubt that they would have the resources to produce such amazing technology had they branched out too far. 
With focused development and production comes focused marketing and sales.
Considering the price Marutaka Techno will be asking, I've kept my search limited to mid-range and higher class hotels and spa resorts. My logic is that budget hotels are usually a no-frills experience, meaning that it's very unlikely for the company to even commit the capital to buy our products. On the other hand, mid-range hotels may offer such services as an extra for which their more affluent customers may be willing to pay. I believe that this is the case with the Bannatyne Group, which comprises of mid-range to higher class health clubs, spas and hotels. 
The higher class hotels and health clubs usually charge a higher price but include a much better service with various extras included (e.g. free gym, spa treatment etc.). Although the executive director has a wild dream of having the products placed in all of the rooms of these expensive hotels, I think that it's a tad unrealistic. The sheer cost involved would not warrant a risk on products which are (as of yet) untested in the British market. Moreover, another risk is that the hotels and health clubs may see these products as damaging to their lucrative spa treatment businesses, ending in total sales of big fat zero.
To circumvent this problem, I suggested marketing our foot massage machines and shoulder tappers as products that could be placed in lounges for waiting customers to use. When we get into the price range of The Ritz-Carlton, The Marriot and the top class Hilton hotels, the only real differentiator is the level of service. We are hoping that these hotels will be able to increase their level of service by supplementing their massage services with these products rather than cannibalising a profitable business model. 
Japan's aging society (an increase in the proportion of over 55's and a decrease in the under 15's) means that products and services targeted at the older populations are becoming more and more lucrative.  Although you may not believe me, I don't think it's a coincidence that a substantial portion of commercials on Japanese TV are directed squarely at elderly people (hair transplants, life insurance, treatments to make old skin look more beautiful). Sure, we have those in the UK too, but the frequency at which they are shown on Japanese TV can be understood by living here and seeing it with your own eyes. 
While the UK's population will also get older in the next decade or so (that's inevitable), the UK's elderly population is certainly nothing like Japan's in terms of affluence. As Japan's population gets older, a lot of the elderly people will be able to live (at least in the short term) on their savings, but I can't imagine many elderly UK residents having a big savings account to fall back on (let alone purchase one of our luxury products). 
While our products are mainly targeted at older people in Japan, the target users in the UK would most likely be middle-aged people (preferably women) on higher than average incomes who can afford to subscribe to health clubs and/or visit spas on a regular basis. According to the executive director, it's common for affluent customers to try our products at hotels and then decide to buy one for their own personal use. This situation would be fantastic but the one thing we need in the UK is MARKET EXPOSURE!
That's all I have time for now but I'm planning to talk about my translation hardships in the next update. Until then, sit tight and keep your fingers crossed for my return!
As always, 


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