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Since globalization has risen, nowadays we deal with many countries that have different culture and customs, so at the time of doing business it is very important to understand its traditions and know how those customs affects the consumer decision making and turn it into advantages. Taking into consideration Japan culture, the next paper work has the objective to show how that culture differ from the Colombian`s culture and then according to these and taking into account all those factors we develop a business idea that is "Oishii: the pitahaya juice".
Lately, exports from Colombia to Japan have dramatically increased, since there have always been a good bilateral commercial relationship between these countries and due to nowadays growing tendency of globalization, which has given rise to multiple facilities for trade and communication with even the most distant places. Consequently, local companies more frequently are choosing Japan as their target market, relying on the fact that Japanese have an exceptional taste toward Colombian products.
Based mainly on cultural information analysis, we have noticed that Colombian exotic fruits are a potential business plan to be developed in Japan. However, we have decided to go further than selling the fruit itself and provide food stores and supermarkets, all over the island, with pitahaya juice, for the reason our country has turned into the main supplier of yellow pitahaya over the world since the beginning of this fruit production in order to accomplish commercial purposes, approximately during the 80s, creating by this way an enough and not expensive source of pitahaya procurement in considerable Colombian areas.
Pitahaya is wanted not only because of its pleasing taste, but also because of its particular and captious shape and bright yellow color. It has, also, some medicinal properties, as for example: laxative, benefits for diabetic people, vitamin c, minerals, phosphorous, calcium and fiber. Therefore, its juice would definitely be an innovative successful product to export and specifically in Japan, as this exotic fruit has become into one of the favorites within the entire Asian market, for the reason that Asian people are not used to see this kind of exotic fruits at their domestic markets and are fascinated with all its natural medicinal properties.
Hence, our goal is to turn this Japanese weakness into a consolidated advantage, given the reality that Japan is a very huge market with many potential consumers.
JAPAN: CULTURAL BACKGROUND
Nowadays and since globalization we have had the opportunity to know and interact more with other cultures, JapaneseÂ culture is one of them, it has become a very interesting culture, we all know Japan and the media has shown it by its famous sushi plate, Japanese anime, Manga, samurai or movies towards geishas, but those are not the only things that characterizes Japan there are so many things we still don't know about them.
Japan is a nation with approximately 127 million of citizens and also it is recognized for having a high population density, that is why when it comes to foreign people there is a particular prevention attitude, despite it is not even against people inside an specific ethnicity group like we used to see in other countries but for all of those who are not Japanese, consequently they have an specific word "Gaijin" [i] to refer to foreign and still to the people who are not a totally Japanese.
All these not indicate that Japanese are xenophobic people, actually when tourists visit them; they are very kind and welcoming, the thing is if you are moving permanently you will find issues fitting in their culture.
according to this, it is good to know then, how some gestures that are very common for western culture can be misunderstood, in Japan for example the gesture meaning to western cultures "ok" or saying something is fine for you, for them means "money", also the famous cats named "Maneki Neko" [ii] that always are with a hand up, here we might see this gesture like saying bye, but for Japanese is a person that is welcome or just inviting someone to come to the business, stores etc depending where the cat is located.
in addition it is very common to see when someone is interested on a society they just focus on the superficial characteristics like language, music, infrastructure but it is especially important, once you are analyzing and learning about culture to know its values because those are the ones that are not going to change easily through the time and are the ones that build society.
One of those ancient values is the Giri [iii] that means the cooperation and help you give to the others in your daily lives and not only with your family but with your work group.
Actually Japanese have a very strong cultural identity, Japan's ethnicity can be considered as one, as homogenous society, they are so into each other's life and try to cooperate among them, also Japanese people are very polite, for example as the lecture "Japanese garden" affirm, when an owner of a store catch someone stealing, they prefer to do things calm and without anyone noticing about the situation.
Japan have another important value at its core that is Reciprocity "the idea that people are not good or bad in any absolute sense but good or bad in light of their relationships with others" [iv] to understand this we can assimilated when people here said "Give to receive", so it is like returning all the favors that Japanese have done for benefit of others.
Also we can said that reciprocity is attached to loyalty and obedience, again not only with their family but to other groups they interact with, and as thought in class when Japanese work for a company they are so into it having a lot of sense of loyalty, if someone achieve any goal or objective the merit it's for the company en general not individually.
Japanese being very harmonious, does not mean that there is not room for competition, actually in Japan there exist a lot of competition and today we can observe the success that many Japanese companies has achieved like Toyota, Toshiba etc, and not only with these multinational also companies within Japan.
Japanese values also have been adopted by many western companies such as "kaizen that means always giving your best when doing something and like that they can success and change the way they work within a company, this concept is also involved with "Kata" [v] meaning the correct means of doing things.
When it comes to religion, the main religions in Japan are Shinto and Buddhism [vi] , however like in every other country there are other religions like Christian but are minority. Japan society is not very influenced by the religion that why is considered by some as a secularized society, they are very fascinated with the aesthetics, as said before harmony is very important to them and also how this value is attached to their environment, they care greatly about their relationship with nature, one traditional ritual for example regarding aesthetics is "the tea ceremony" that is the desire of purifying and releasing your soul and at the same time you turn into one with nature.
One of the main barriers in doing business all around the world is the language, particularly in this country, the Japanese that is generally included in the Altaic linguistic group [vii] , Japan also has obtained some of the Chinese way of writing.
COLOMBIA AND JAPAN: SIMILARITIES AND DIFFERENCES
Even though we might think Colombia and Japan are completely different countries, because of huge dissimilarities regarding their language, religion, ethnicity and customs; they share some particular aspects of their daily lives; for example: they both are collectivist and pay special attention to family values, also the masculinity standards within their societies are high and the public chairs as well as leadership functions are delegated mostly to men, in addition, these countries are enormously risk adverse, pretty conservative and with plenty of rules for avoiding unexpected changes.
In order to explain Colombia and Japan similarities and differences is key to analyze each country in the direction of Hofstede's dimensions.
First, in power distance we could see that Colombia is a very inequality country and the differences within society can be seen in our social status, in consequence Colombia has a high power distance according to Hofstede, the same is with Japan, that is why when Japanese business men exchange their business card it is not a quick moment, they take their time to do so and they like that people correctly treat them according to their status and function developed inside the company.
This take us to another dimension that is individualism, Colombians and Japanese tend to be very collectivist, Colombians care too much on what others said and we do things in order to satisfied our society, Japanese has a lot of responsibilities within a group, they are incredibly committed to their family, work or any other group they are members of.
Both countries, also, are highly masculine, because they expect the women to stay at home, and at delegating political charges and CEO's positions the parameter has been to choose men, but as in all over the world women have started to be more autonomous and free when decisions making in both, Colombia and Japan. Being masculine also refers to both societies behavior oriented toward competition and ambitious.
Unknown situations are no so liked by Colombians or Japanese, in effect both present high uncertainty avoidance in Hofstede`s index, Colombia has a lot of rules, is a very conservative society and for people is not easy to trust others, with Japan this dimension is attached with collectivism because the direction of looking for harmony have the inclination to avoid ambiguity, for example when a group is working together people will try to avoid the unusual situations and are more pushed to respond and like that be able to accomplish good result to the group they belong.
Then the last dimension is term orientation, Japan is perceived as having high long term orientation, for example "Japanese managers develop a business plan for a period between 3 years and require their staff to follow the same time frame for their plan to work" [viii] this make sense with the high uncertainty avoidance, that is why they have a life job and think they need 3 years to conclude the business idea. Opposite to this Colombia is more short term orientation, when Colombians do business they do not tent to build long relationship, despite we do try to break the ice with the person, we see the contract more like a transaction and making a good profit.
We can said that Colombia and Japan differ from the time, Japanese tend to be always on time and they have everything planned but Colombia is characterized for being flexible in the time and not being on time might be excused without giving a lot of significance .
Nature is much appreciated by Japanese, as the metaphor explains, in the garden all the elements such as harmony (Wa) and giving your best in any situation (Kata), are reflected in their society and how they interrelate both nature and individuals.
Japan has a high context because it develops a lot of communication, also the strong relationship Japanese has with others and as we emphasized before the harmony that identifies them, they also when communicate use gestures that has different meanings, the same is with Colombia because we are a collectivistic society, our communication is high and we share everything with the group we belong.
About space, Colombians tend to be very close when we communicate with people, also is clear that in Japanese does not need bigger spaces: "A Japanese person who needs less space thus will stand closer to an American, inadvertently making the American uncomfortable" [ix]
ãŠã„ã-ã„ (OISHII): PITAHAYA JUICE.
First of all, it is important to mention the exact reasons why we chose pitahaya juice as the product that would attract the Japanese right away.
As a first extent, we were motivate to launch this product at the Japanese market because the juice would be elaborated on a hundred percent natural base and according to a survey made by the University of Arizona, Japanese people claim to be well-informed about the way food is produced before making any decision regarding purchases: "Once I hear about pesticides or wax on fruit from a certain country, I never buy it" [x] . This reflects their special concern for the useless of preservatives in food.
Furthermore, the Japanese people are enormously delighted with exotic fruits because of their delicious flavor as well as benefits in health and what is more interesting is that they are more worried about quality than price. Yutaka Tsunoda, for example, who is a Japanese entrepreneur working at the imports on the agro industrial sector and visited our country once, had no hesitations at all when stating: "A Colombian pitahaya could cost around 50 dollars, but still we love it", which means the Japanese demand of food is not highly affected by changes on the price, because according to their perspective what really matters is the further results obtained by a balanced and multivitamin feeding: "The Japanese are apparently willing to pay a premium price for fruit" and definitely for a juice made out of fruit as well.
Nevertheless, it is essential to carefully understand the Japanese in order to be successful.
We decided to challenge their high level of uncertainty avoidance and feeling of superiority toward foreigners, through a joint venture with a Japanese company. We find out that Kagome Co. is a consolidated company in the fruit and vegetables juices market and it has already knowledge about the growth of food and vegetables at gardens, being green and friendly with the environment. Thus being allied to this company would mean, not only an easier access to Japanese consumers, but also gaining extra points because, as we previously explained, Japanese relationship with nature is a very important aspect they should be concerned at on a daily basis, and the legacy Kagome has implemented on society through the fulfillment of all sanitary measures and even policies to prevent the greenhouse effect, would allow us to be directly linked to their kata and harmony with nature believes.
As many other countries Japan also have trade barrier to protect its domestic industry but due to high uncertainty avoidance Japan has, they are more strict than other when talking about this subject, so it is a requirement of our export to have a phytosanitary certificate from Colombia that guarantees the good condition of the product and that packaging don't have any deficiency. By correctly attaching to this measure, we would avoid any mishap and satisfy clients as much as the joint venture partner.
Furthermore, we agree on naming the product Oishii, which means "delicious" in Japanese language and on designing it with lots of yellow and orange, as they are some of the colors the Japanese like the most. In addition, we would include on the package an anime drawing, with the purpose they feel linked to their home culture and this also becomes an opportunity of gaining access to the younger generations, as the older ones would be already covered by the pitahaya medicinal benefits, but children and teenagers would be willing to buy the product as this resembles the anime new wave of entertainment.
After a closer analysis of the Japanese culture, we can affirm our business idea would be successful due to the facts it has many advantages regarding health but on a totally natural way, which is consistent with the Japanese good relationship with nature.
Japanese culture is characterized for the tea ceremony ritual, which is done each day of every year and as well as tea, pitahaya juice could on a certain extent replace it because it serves the same function of having a laxative component; however, we should be clear on the fact that our product is never going to being a substitute of the tea, since this ritual represents the harmony of Japanese society, linked to aesthetics and which make part of the core values; nevertheless, "oishii: the pitahaya juice" would have further acceptance than any other kind of beverage as it would carefully take into account and be tolerant with the difference regarding Colombian and Japanese cultures.