Markus Huber
Markus Huber

ISPO Academy: “Japan is rising – gradually”

The second edition of this event will take place on September 2, when the ISPO Academy returns to Japan. The training program will take place in an Olympic spirit, so to speak. Tokyo will be the next city to host the Games in 2020. Right now, however, there are more urgent topics to consider: How will the economy in Japan develop? What is the current situation for local retail? And what are the business opportunities in the Land of the Rising Sun?

Markus Hefter, Exhibition Group Director ISPO, at an ISPO ACADEMY session.
Markus Hefter, Exhibition Group Director ISPO, at an ISPO ACADEMY session.

“All fine so far,” says Takaya Miyoshi, Senior Associate of ISPO in Japan, on the eve of the ISPO ACADEMY in Tokyo. Mister Miyoshi, how would you describe the current evolution of the Japanese sporting goods business – especially in the context of the general development of the country’s economy?
Takaya Miyoshi: Basically, the Japanese economy has been gradually improving. However, the larger corporations recover faster than the smaller and medium-sized companies. That has a lot to do with the way the government steers the country and the fact that Japan still needs time to recover after a period of economic standstill.

“People still cannot feel the recovery” 

People here often say that they cannot feel the economic growth. Due to the general impression that the larger companies are recovering faster than the smaller ones, it is widely considered that there is a growing gap between smaller and larger enterprises.

Where do you see the value of an ISPO ACADEMY in a market like Japan’s that has an almost vertical structure, i.e. where retail is to a large extent in the hands of the brands?
The biggest value of the ISPO Academy in Japan is its name. The added value is that ISPO shares its expertise with the local market players. In fact, unlike Europe, the service we offer is more appreciated by wholesalers, manufacturers and distributors than by retailers.  

“Japan’s retail is on a very high level”

Japanese retailers work on a very high level as far as the know-how and the quality of sales staff is concerned. In addition, most buyers know the demands of the consumers very well. They only buy products they feel satisfied with and they look very closely at what they are selling.

Does that mean the ISPO ACADEMY targets local wholesale more than the retailers?
In Japan, sell-in is a very tough business since the retailers only order and purchase those products that they feel confident will sell-through. On the whole, Japanese retailers are real professionals. This is why any remaining overstock affects order placement for the next season much more than it would in Europe. So, our initial target for the ISPO ACADEMY is not the retailers.

Having said that, in Tokyo we will be pursuing other target groups through the ISPO ACADEMY:

  • local manufacturers aiming to enter European markets
  • Japanese companies that want to penetrate other Asian markets
  • distributors and wholesalers that are interested in selling new foreign brands and products in Japan
  • marketers of tourist resorts – domestic and foreign alike

How would you describe the inter-Asian sports business, for example between Japan and China?
This is not easy to answer. It appears that there are good information services in China for those who want to invest in Japan or purchase Japanese real estate. However, we Japanese are often only made aware of such an investment once the deal is done,

High Demand for In-depth Information

At the Hakuba ski resort, where I own a ski shop, the tourism bureau is unable to compile up-to-date information on the accommodation services available in the village. This is because foreign owners often do not register their business at the bureau, never mind any changes they might make to the exterior of their property or to the name they put on the front door. Foreign proprietors mainly target customers from their respective home countries.

Therefore, we have a lack of information for the locval and the international market players. That is one of the reasons I chose the Hakuba ski resort as one of the topics we will cover in our upcoming academy.

Markus Huber
Markus Huber

Markus Huber
Markus Huber

Ben van der Burg spoke about virtual reality, wearables, and 3D printing at the ISPO ACADEMY in Leusden.
ISPO Academy Conferences offers relevant seminars, workshops and podium discussions about market-relevant topics to sport business professionals.