Japan has been at the forefront of global economic development for quite a while up until recently. Due to the rapid technologic growth and the development of innovative technologies that would become the center of the world’s IT and ICT progress. According to the Central Intelligence Agency, in 2018, Japan’s unemployment rates reached a mark of 2.9%, which was a stupendous improvement compared to previous years (Central Intelligence Agency). Although the levels of inflation saw a slight increase, the country was experiencing an overall improvement in its economic status and its position in the global market (“Japan Retail Sales”).
Moreover, the rise in retail sales indicated that Japan was ready for another foray into the global retail industry and acquiring new customers to become a competitive force in the specified environment. However, the COVID-19 pandemic that erupted recently may jeopardize the chances of collaborating with Japan for Canada. At the same time, due to the drastic drop in exchange rates of the US dollar, the Japanese yen seems to have been on the rise since recently. Therefore, the general prospects of doing business in Japan may seem plausible.
An overview of the current competitive environment will show that the company is likely to face severe rivalry from local companies. Specifically, it will be necessary to pay attention to the companies such as Daiichi Sankyo Co Ltd, Takeda Pharmaceutical Co Ltd CAD, and Astellas Pharma Inc. Despite having seen a minor drop in revenues recently, the specified organizations comprise the set of major corporations in the pharmaceutical industry.
The present economic setting of Japan could use certain improvements, yet, compared to other states, it is moderately positive for business transactions and economic activities, in general. Local regulations can be seen as slightly stringent in regard to the ethics of managing trade involving medications (Murthy et al.). In addition, the political setting cannot be considered as lenient toward the expansion of business, posing certain major legal restrictions. Specifically, the consumption of foreign products is typically frowned upon, whereas domestic goods are seen as a legitimate resource. Therefore, the project in question may face certain difficulties when implemented in Japan.
The present opportunities for exporting to Japan may seem to be quite limited given the global threat of contagion. As far as the cultural issues are concerned, expanding into the Japanese market will imply balancing carefully between remaining relatable and familiar to target audiences, simultaneously being easily distinguishable from the rest of the products of a similar nature. The specified challenge can be resolved by introducing a packaging of a different color scheme yet with familiar symbols and signs, such as the presence of images associated with health and the well-being of the community.
Packaged medications are the core product that will be represented to the target audience. The reasons for the choice of the specified product include the general trend toward the improvement of public health issues on a global scale. In addition, the significance of providing health management opportunities for people globally has risen since the development of the COVID-19 epidemic. With the increase in the demand for medications, specifically, the ones for managing respiratory issues, as well as the related complications such as pneumonia, the importance of providing the specified goods have risen. Moreover, it is important to note that a range of population groups currently have limited access to healthcare resources, as well as the opportunity for leaving the premises due to the quarantine and the threat of contracting the coronavirus.
The product that the Canadian company in question will strive to introduce to the Japanese market is packaged medicaments. The choice of product can be considered rather meaningful and important given the current trends in the spreading of COVID-19 and the rate of disease development. Although Japan is currently not listed among the states with the higher contagion rates, it has still been deeply affected by the issues that the coronavirus has caused (Yoshida). Namely, the unavailability of multiple services, the need to keep personal interactions in public spaces to a minimum, and similar constraints have defined the further drop in performance rates and the state’s GDP (Yoshida).
The relevance of the product is going to be unbelievably high due to the current epidemic of coronavirus. With the outbreak of COVID-19, people need basic medications that prevent them from contracting the virus and developing complications such as pneumonia (Murthy et al.). In turn, Canadian products, which are characterized by their high quality and profound research, can be suggested as the means of addressing the health needs of the Japanese population.
Finally, the issue of labeling needs to be touched upon as a critical component of meeting the requirements for pharmaceutical goods. The current restrictions imposed on labeling of drugs in Japan include the clear statement of intent of advertising, the name of the company, and the state promoting awareness among general audiences at which the advertisement is directed (Yoshida). Once at least one of the specified aspects is met, information is classified as advertising (Yoshida).
Therefore, it is critical for the product in question to meet the specifications listed above. In addition, it is critical to bear in mind that the Japanese government makes a clear distinction between medications of health management purposes and the so-called quasi-drugs, which are labeled as cosmetics under the Canadian regulations (Yoshida et al. 728). Thus, it is imperative to mark the product under analysis as a type of drug aimed specifically for medical purposes.
Another aspect of the 4Ps assessment that should be touched upon is the pricing strategy. The issue of price is going to be especially difficult to handle due to the current confusion in the exchange rate and the drastic drop in the rates of nearly all currencies. Thus, the price for the product needs to be increased so that the Canadian company would not lose money. At the same time, it is important to keep the focus on the needs of vulnerable groups and offer customers access to the medications that will help them save their lives. Therefore, the pricing strategy has to be based on a compromise between the specified issues. Namely, the price per product will have to vary from CAD 2.90 to CAD 3.50 per package.
Moreover, when considering the price issue, one should keep in mind the difference between the pricing standards of the Canadian and Japanese markets. The changes that the exchange rate of the currencies of both countries have suffered should also be borne in mind. Namely, the fact that the Canadian dollar has dropped in its price, whereas the Japanese yen has grown, has to be incorporated into the financial analysis. Therefore, it will be reasonable to introduce options for people to save money. For instance, customers may get a discount when buying a combination of specific medications.
Given the current state of the economy, transferring the place of the product purchase to the digital setting will be the most reasonable step to take. While it is important to keep physical outlets for selling the medications for the disadvantaged populations that do not have Internet access, the digital marketing framework has to be developed as well. Thus, the company will be able to distribute the products in the most efficient way possible.
For this reason, products will be offered on the official site o the organization with delivery opportunities and payment options provided along with medications. Namely, the organization will accept all standard payment services, including MasterCard, Visa, PayPal, and the related options.
As for the physical outlets, products will be delivered to Japanese pharmacies as well. The medications will be offered in most Japanese drug stores so that all people in need of treatment could access them easily.
When considering the Place aspect of the marketing mix, one will have to keep in mind the restrictions that have been applied to global transactions and transportations due to the pandemic. Namely, it will be necessary to limit the number of pharmacies with which the company will work. In addition, it is worth keeping in mind that the number of China-sourced items has dropped drastically, rendering the country and the companies operating in it nearly nonexistent for business partnerships.
Furthermore, delays in transportation are highly expected due to the rise in the scale of the epidemic. Given the fact that Japan is geographically isolated from Europe and Canada, it will be necessary to resort to aircraft transportation; however, with the current restrictions imposed on air travel, the total number of transportations to be made per day will have to be suspended till April (ANA Sky Web).
Additionally, the issue of product packaging will have to be addressed so that it could gain traction in the Japanese market. Granted that the efficacy of the medication is likely to trump its other properties, including its looks, the initial impression that it will make will be crucial in its promotion and introduction to the Japanese market. Therefore, the packaging will have to be strikingly different from the traditional Japanese drugs, yet it also needs to be familiar enough not to cause aversion in the target audience.
Specifically, the use of the colors that will stand out from the rest of the packagings, such as black or similar darker shades of more traditional colors, will have to be considered as a possible tool for drawing people’s attention to the product. The medication will have to be sold both in packages and be available singly for customers with fewer financial options.
The medication in question will be promoted with the help of digital tools. The specified measure is critical due to the quarantine measures that are currently reinforced across the glove, and the subsequent drop in the number of people that visit public places. Specifically, social media will be utilized to promote the medicine to the target audiences. Namely, advertisements will be placed on the platforms such as Facebook. In addition, platforms such as YouTube will have to be incorporated into the present marketing plan since there has been a noticeable increase in the number of Japanese people using YouTube.
However, it is also important to walk a very fine line between the promotion of a vital product and the attempt at capitalizing on the outbreak of a pandemic. While the efforts of the organization to deliver medications to one of the countries that is likely to suffer especially strongly from the virus are evidently well-meaning, they may also be interpreted as an endeavor to use the pandemic as the source of increasing the company’s profitability and competitiveness. The specified change in the public perspective will put the company in a very unflattering light and create additional obstacles to the delivery of the necessary medications to Japanese customers. Therefore, it is critical for the organization to establish that the organization’s main aim is to promote well-being among its target audiences and increase opportunities for fighting COVID-19.
Twitter will also be used as a means of keeping customers informed about the latest changes in the company’s products, the opportunities for purchasing them, and other relevant information. Moreover, the organization will have to use its Twitter presence in order to encourage patient education and convince people to take care of their health better. Given the current rate of COVID-19 spread, the specified measure will allow the organization to retain its customers and ensure that they are safe.
It is also crucial to make the promotion culturally specific so that the target audiences could see the product as a part of their cultural landscape. For this purpose, the organization will have to take into account the cultural specifics of Japanese buyers in regard to their health culture and the relevant traditions. At this point, it will suffice to say that the Japanese health management culture and traditions are very complex and convoluted for foreigners (Matthews et al. 602).
Therefore, it will be necessary to follow the key principles so that customers would not be turned away by an instance of miscommunication. Specifically, the company will have to focus on the key characteristics such as the emphasis on the community rather than an individual and the strong promotion of primary care (Matthews et al. 603). Therefore, it will be necessary to promote the product as the vehicle for mobilizing the community to fight against the threat of COVID-19 and prevent the virus from affecting the lives of Japanese citizens.
In addition to creating extra opportunities for making the promotion strategy geared toward Japanese buyers, it will be necessary to collaborate with a local Japanese company. The cultural consultations and assistance that a local organization will provide will help to avoid the embarrassment caused by possible misconceptions and misinterpretations of the Japanese culture and the signs and symbols used in it. Moreover, such collaboration will allow avoiding possible translation issues, thus making the instructions as accurate as possible to prevent health issues from occurring as a result of mismanaging dosage.
When adapting to the specifics of the Japanese market, one will need to consider international business strategies that will allow continuing the application of the uniform approach toward marketing while keeping the product relevant to its target audiences. For this reason, the business strategy of humanizing the brand and making it as accessible to the public as possible should be considered the main strategy. It is important to ensure that customers could relate to the products offered to them, which is why the logo and the brand image associated with easily understandable sentiments related to health and happiness should be used.
At this point, it is important to keep in mind that the Japanese cultural signifiers are strikingly different from those of the Western culture. Therefore, the brand image associated with the product needs to be shaped so that it could represent the ideas of healthcare accessibility, as well as spiritual ideas such as the connection between mind and body.
In addition, it is important to contemplate the issue of standardization vs. customization as it pertains to the promotion of drugs in the Japanese market. Given the specifics of the target setting, the focus on customization is desirables. However, for ethical reasons, which include the provision of equal opportunities to customers and the provision of effective treatment, customizing should be considered as the main strategy. Thus, to compromise, it will be necessary to tailor the promotion process to specific communities, with the emphasis on innovation, while maintaining the standardized approach toward the positioning of the product and its medical properties.
Finally, the issue of the transportation process needs to be touched upon. It is critical to ensure that the medication should be transported as carefully as possible not to be damaged in the process. Therefore, the services of a trustworthy transportation agency will be required. Thus, this company will need to construct a strong supply chain in which a significant portion of the resources will be spent on transportation. Namely, it is currently most reasonable to deliver the necessary products by plane despite the restrictions imposed on global flights. Thus, the integrity of the company, its quality, and its efficacy will be maintained.
Overall, it is recommended to ensure that the marketing model utilized by the organization is efficient enough to counteract the current problems caused by the development of COVID-19 and the economic challenges that it has created. For this purpose, the transfer of the business and the relevant transactions, including the SCM-associated tasks, into the online setting is highly recommended. For the same reason, the introduction of e-marketing tools is strongly advised as a means of attracting the attention of the target audiences and spreading the word about the efficacy of the product and the services offered by the organization. At the same time, it is crucial to convey a message that will convince buyers that the organization is concerned with the safety and well-being of its customers and its target audience, in general.
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