JAPAN'S DEPARTMENT STORES LEVERAGE ONLINE-OFFLINE EXPERIENCES

Last year, all three of Japan’s struggling major department retailers announced strategies with strong focus towards the inbound tourism market.  The approach, in part, would leverage content, rather than merely sales and promotions to build awareness and engagement, and ultimately get people back in stores. Here are some recent intriguing examples… 

A Creepy Twist on Spring - Mitsukoshi ‘Japan Senses’

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In spring in Japan, all themes point to cherry blossom. As bright and blissful the theme, it’s replicated year after year with little variation, and so the blossoms are getting somewhat tired.

However, the winner this time around is Mitsukoshi's Japan Senses, which avoids being too predictable by adding a slightly creepy twist. 

Inspired by the Japanese performance art Noh, they use the traditional masks and music to create a spectacular, high quality video featuring kimono-wearing ladies eerily making their way through storms of blossom petals. 

The experience is integrated offline with beautiful display windows in store continuing the video narrative seamlessly.

Beats, Sweat and Yoga - Isetan & Lululemon

Its title may sound a little unsettling, however ‘Sweat Sense Japan’ is a collaborative series of events from Lululemon, the yoga apparel brand, and Isetan that want customers to experience what both brands represent.

Events include live performances with traditional Japanese drum troops where attendees can ‘feel the beats through their body as they stretch’.

Brands like Lululemon appeal not just their clothing, looking good or even yoga, it’s a lifestyle statement. Brand values that gain alignment and loyalty amongst their followers, and which Isetan appears keen to emulate.

Parco Courts Youth and Viral Trends

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Parco isn’t a usual suspect in the line-up.  I chose Parco to demonstrate a department store that leverages social media content to court younger, trendier audiences (though not inbound tourism). 

Parco advantages popular social platforms like LINE and Instagram, and live events also play a big part on YouTube (such as a series of rap battles on the store’s roof). 

This month, Parco co-sponsors a premier event for the release of Dancer’, a documentary portraying the life of troubled ballet prodigy Sergei Polunin, who shot to fame online. The event also boasts a live performance by Polunin himself. Visitors at events use “#parcoart” to live-feed tweets to the Parco Art website.

All the above examples use online content to create buzz, followed by a main offline event or experience which is then uploaded online.  And while some were slow to embrace the trend, increasingly Japan’s department stores are using the approach in a similar way to seasoned icons overseas such as Selfridges, Barneys and John Lewis. 

Image Credits: Isetan Mitsukoshi, Lululemon, Parco, Uplink Image

Image Curation and Versioning: An-yal

Based in Tokyo, An-yal develops social media and content marketing campaigns for Japanese markets and brands worldwide, find out more here. We’d love to hear from you!

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In February 2017, AN-YAL began a project to bring popularity back to the department store experience and get people back through their grand doors. Through our research, we discovered copious beauty, history and pioneering stories - so many good  reasons to enjoy the unique experience. So we want to spread the word for our stores to again become 'THE destination within the destination'.

 

Chioma Anyalewechi