Selling Cassava Chips In Japanese Market Cultural Studies Essay

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Although countries like Japan tend to be close minded because they are isolated, Japanese market is very interesting for new products because they like to try all kind of new things and flavor, taking these into account, Japan is a good market option to sell cassava chips.

It is a very important market to introduce chips, because Japanese people are big consumers of chips, mostly potato and corn, but it is also a very hard market to get in because of the cultural differences between Colombia and Japan, these challenges make the business interesting and disappointing at the same time.

In this paper we will go around the main cultural differences between both countries to understand the way Japanese people think, act and most important what do they like and buy, to find the best way of getting cassava chips into Japan and what flavors do they prefer with cassava chips, it is important to adapt in some way cultural heritage into new products in market.

The Japanese market is an incredible market for corporate products and services, in part because Japanese companies are still prepared to pay premiums for quality, reliability and service. Understanding Japanese corporate sales will allow us to do very profitable business with Japan's largest corporations [1] 

Japanese people are crazy about chips, when anyone thinks about chips they usually think, in the Colombian case, about plantain and potato chips in lemon and chicken flavor, and maybe some other flavors not very common like: salt & vinegar, BBQ, sour cream & onion, etc. But Japanese market offers all kind of flavors, even the strangest anyone could think about like: octopus dumpling, pork garlic, horse ramen, caesar salad, cheese cake, massala, soy sauce, curry, gorgonzola and we could keep mentioning all kind of flavors, but all of them in only two types of chips: potato and corn. Japanese people as almost all Asians like exotic flavors, they are willing to try new things, experiences and flavors.

So, knowing their love for new flavors, wouldn't it be interesting to offer a new kind of chips like cassava? We know they like chips and strange flavor chips so why don't try cassava chips? Colombia is very rich in food, and cassava grows in almost the whole Colombian territory, but we always export the raw materials, almost never process it and aggregate an added value, that's why as our project for intercultural management we wanted to carry out an investigation on how feasible is it to sell cassava chips in the Japanese market.

When the Tokugawa period started, almost no one in Japan could read or write, but, by the period's end, learning became widespread. Tokugawa education left a valuable legacy of an increasingly literate population, a meritocratic ideology, and an emphasis on discipline and competent performance. This facilitated Japan's rapid transition from feudal country to modern nation.

"During the Tokugawa period, the role of many of the bushi, or samurai, changed from warrior to administrator, and as a consequence, their formal education and their literacy increased proportionally. Samurai curricula stressed morality and included both military and literary studies. Confucian classics were memorized, and reading and recitating them were common methods of study. Arithmetic and calligraphy were also studied. Most samurai attended schools sponsored by their han (domains), and by the time of the Meiji Restoration of 1868, more than 200 of the 276 han had established schools. Some samurai and even commoners also attended private academies, which often specialized in particular Japanese subjects or in Western medicine, modern military science, gunnery, or Rangaku (Dutch studies), as European studies were called" [2] 

In terms of the individualism even though Japan is a collectivist country it has a tendency to be more individualistic, in both countries decisions are slower than in very individualistic countries, because negotiators always get back to their bosses and headquarters with the possibilities they have and make the decision together rather than having initiative.

Both are very masculine countries, but Japan is one of the top masculine countries, Japanese are always in a competition, for better conditions, better jobs, etc. and the conditions of women in Japan is rather different that people might expect from a first world country, because women tend to quit when they want to settle down, companies do not like to give women important jobs because they know they are going to leave sooner or later, so they give positions that are easily replaceable.

Uncertainty avoidance index point the capacity of a society to confront new things and the riskiness they are capable to confront, for both countries this index is very high showing that they appreciate having laws that regulates everything, they both like the status quo of things and they are always in the look for the final truth.

Long term orientation is very different, even though the index is not available for Colombia, is very known that Colombians live for the moment, the negotiations for example are not routed to establish a contact and a partner rather than to "tumbar" or gain the most they can; Japanese do care about relations and they are very loyal to suppliers and negotiation partners.

Both Japan and Colombia are a very high context society, in where you don't have to be very specific about everything, this issue is one of the main reasons why Japanese culture is sometimes very hard to understand to foreigners.

Business idea and implementation.

Our idea is to sell cassava chips in the Japanese market; this sell would be looking for clients here, with the help of the phone books that are in the chamber of commerce or with the help of Proexport. We would seek for big supermarkets or commercializers so that way it is easier to start due to the difference and "peculiarness" of Japanese market.

The Japanese market has proved to be the worlds most profitable for many companies, early entry into the Japanese market can be one of the most profitable business decisions a company can make - late entry into the Japanese market can be one of the worst.

Achieving first-mover status in the Japanese market is always a massive advantage because one of the traits of Japan's business culture is that consumers and corporate buyers in Japan tend to be unusually loyal to suppliers; assuming of course the suppliers consistently return that loyalty with excellent service, quality and reliability. [3] 

In Japan the reputation of a company is very important; a rumour can destroy a company in term of a week, so keeping quality, responsibility, times of delivery, and your reputation in general is a main preoccupation.


According to some research we made, the color we choose was yellow as the main for the entire package. This due because Japanese people has influence, as the entire world, of the Feng Shui practice, and in this art style, the meaning of the yellow color is linked with hunger, appetite and anxiety for food. Also, in front side of the package it has drawn a cassava in his regular presentation but in the end of one of its sides the regular cassava will become in chips and this to show to the consumers what are they are going to eat accompanied by the name of the product with black letters. And in the back side will appear the information of all ingredients involved in the process for making the chips.

This cassava chips are segmented to a market or people in different situations: First, those ones who are hungry but don't have time for a regular lunch or meal, and can calm a little this anxiety with a cassava chips package while get time for a normal meal. Other situation for the use of the cassava chips is that this product can be used as a side of a meal that has a main food in the menu.


Japan is a very interesting country, someone could say they are weird, but they are just different, different from western people at least, they see the world in a different way, their neatness and perfectionism could be overwhelming and the way they act or behave could be seen as odd.

But, despite of all this disconformities with their culture, Japan is the second largest economy of the world and that together with the fact that in that tiny island are more than 127'000.000 inhabitants make it a very interesting market because even though there are countries with the same amount of population, the people living in Japan have a very high purchase power which have been a blessing for companies such as Louis Vuitton, Christian Dior and Prada for which Japan is their biggest market.

Starting business in Japan is not difficult and neither does it need to be expensive. If a company has a unique and good quality product or service then by carefully controlling costs it will be profitable in the first year in the Japanese market. The trick is understanding Japanese business and the mentality of Japanese businesspeople well enough to be able to control costs. [4] 

When we thought of a very Colombian product that could be exported, we thought of something very autochthonous, and the cassava has always been an important part of the meals of a very big part of the Colombian population, this tuber has played an important role in the Colombia cuisine, so evolving it and adding an added value such as making chips out of it was the obvious next step in order to internationalizing it and creating an industry.

After having this in mind, the next step was to find a market, and after careful investigation we found that one of the biggest chips consumers in the world were the Japanese, and given that they are very open minded when it comes to try new food and that they have the craziest kind of chips it was the perfect market to start.

But as we went around in this paper, it only takes very good investigation, an open mind and really understanding the culture of a country to succeed when trying to get them to know a new product and when selling a product into a new and totally different kind of market.