Japan Rising: The Importance of Knowing Your Customer

GeishaJapanese women are bound by cultural norms that by Western standards may seem strict. Over the past 20 years, a trend has developed where as Japanese women enter the workforce, they are delaying having children to have a career, and are becoming more assertive about their wants and needs as consumers. As a Product Manager, this is an interesting test lab for finding new problems to solve, since new groups of potential customers don’t generally appear as quickly or as aggressively as the working Japanese woman.

CNN is running a short video clip about a fascinating new business catering to this demographic in Japan: overworked, under appreciated Japanese women who feel constrained by the rules and traditions of Japanese society and appreciate the freedom and empowerment of their Western peers.

In this restaurant, hosted exclusively by Western males, the servers dote on their Japanese clients, almost in a reversal of the old geisha tradition. The best part of the video is that the owner went out and interviewed 200+ women about what they wanted before investing in the concept. There is nothing special about the food or tiara offered to each patron – these women are buying on the service and experience that they can’t get elsewhere. This is a great way to keep costs in line while differentiating your product. Ikea is another example in a different industry.

How do you listen to customers to differentiate your business?

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