Yage Tea Business Opportunities Cultural Studies Essay

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Colombian culture is rich in many aspects, we have many traditions, core values, and a set of customs that are enriched by a vast set of products that we use in a daily basis, but we have also lost a lot of our original culture, the pre-Colombian traditions broke and changed with the arrival of the Spaniards in the colonization of America and now with globalization, will never be recovered, we sadly lost tens and tens of dialects that could have enriched our culture, we lost ancient traditions that rested on this lands, but there are things that lived on quietly in the low dense population of native indigenous of our nation, that also represent our culture, and we want to take out of this, a product that can also be introduced to other cultures exploiting a part of our culture that is also rich and unique.

The respect and tolerance towards different cultures inside our nation especially the native cultures, has opened a vast amount of possibilities to identifying the differences between us, for example the use of Yage or Ayahuasca as a medicinal root in many Colombian tribes. For centuries the "Inga's" and "Kamentsä" tribes in the Putumayo and in the Colombian Amazon have used the ritual of "Yage" as a process of healing not only for the body but for the spirit 1. Yagé is a medicinal root found in big amounts in South-America in countries like Colombia and Peru that has a purge action, not only on the physical stage, but on dimensions like thoughts, feelings and emotions. It is best when consumed as a beverage and must be used only for medicinal purposes.

The ritual of Yage carried out by many different indigenes tribes in Colombia transcended to modern time, where "Taitas" and "Chamanes" connected to their indigenes backgrounds practice the ritual in every part of Colombia 2, the practice of this ritual is not known vastly inside Colombia, mainly because of the high uncertainty avoidance that Colombia has specially towards the practice of rituals of this class, denominating them as witchcraft or simply as a psychedelic drug.

In 2008 a Taita that studied western medicine in Colombia and specialized in Harvard Medical School, began to use Yage root not only to do the ritual of Yage, but also to create medicine based on the root, the medicine has a very specific use for the treatment of illnesses like cancer, diabetes and liver diseases like cirrhosis and hepatitis, the product has a 100 mg beverage presentation and a tea bag presentation, the instructions of use are very specific and require a specified list of things to do and procedures to follow, to ingest the medicine.

The product has been used by doctors that use alternative medicines as treatments to these illnesses, and that are familiar to the use of the ritual of yage for the healing process of illnesses, the medicine is revolutionary, but the use of the medicine does not spread in cultures like ours where the common trend is to use conventional and widely known treatments for our diseases.

The introduction of "Yage Tea" to the international market might have better recognition than the recognition received inside Colombia, because of the high uncertainty avoidance mention before, the internationalization process will begin with the introduction of the product to the Japanese market.

Business idea and implementation

Japan is a very homogeneous traditional country, highly connected with nature and for this reason, highly connected to complementary and alternative medicine. It is a country well known for its appreciation towards everything nature gives them, and even though ¨cosmopolitan medicine¨ or western medicine dominates Japan, ¨Kampo¨ that is alternative medicine, plays an important role and are well received because of their familiarity and non-invasive reaction to the body. They also manage few side effects and help improve a person´s quality of life, making these products highly demanded by the Japanese population. The introduction of "Yage Tea" in Japan is focused on taking advantage of this main cultural aspect trying to surpass other cultural barriers that might come along.

The product is not popular or neither known by any one, so the challenge is getting to the Japanese market with the right marketing and introducing the product the correct way, so the product can have a revolutionary impact expected. ¨Ayahuasca medicinal root¨ is thought to be introduced in Japan as "Yage Tea" a natural medicine that can strength and purge the body, as well as the mind, from the impurities of illnesses and impurities of the soul.

The product will be introduced in Japan by Japanese sells executives hired by the Colombian exporter, the approach with the sells company in Japan by the Colombian exporter, has to give and empower the Japanese sells executive group with a high split of dividends on sells and a big down payment, this to let them know the seriousness of the project and the commitment to a relationship with them, always being loyal to win their trust and to encourage a hard working relationship.

This Japanese executive will be in charge of visiting Japanese doctors that use complementary and alternative medicine, that as the Oxford journal reported in 2004, is 73 % of doctors in Japan that use complementary and alternative medicine, that in the majority of cases use "Kampo" and other alternative medicines like ayurveda, homeopath, aromatherapy, qigong and many others as a complement to Western Medicine 3.

The Japanese doctors, like many Japanese take care of their image (safe face), so using an executive branch of sells executives of Japan that receive the proper training to explain what the medicine can do is very important to make doctors believe in the medicines effectiveness and for them to promote it, it would be impossible to introduce the product with Colombian sellers, because very little Japanese doctors would recommend it because they wouldn't believe in the product.

In addition to this, the Japanese sells executives will introduce the "Yage Tea" as a Japanese import brought back from South America, from indigenous tribes that have an amazing connection to nature, never relating the product as a Colombian product, this way the product can shade the high uncertainty avoidance Japanese have especially with outsiders and foreign things.

Not only the introduction of the product will be made as a Japanese import from the natural marvels of Colombia, but the name of the product will be in Japanese, giving the product more credibility inside the market.

The product will be introduced in the form of tea to attract the Japanese consumers with something as traditional an important as tea, in a country well known for its tea ceremony, but that is something that for a herbal medicine escapes the normal presentations of beverages or drops that are traditionally the presentations for herbal medicine in Japan.

As for their tea history, Japan´s most ancient tea jars, made out of a ceramic material, are known for having small mouths and a wide waist, they are considered as important as the tea they hold and their traditional sandy colors are typical of the old times. Now days, these tea jars come in different sizes and shapes, some small and cylindrical and some big and wide. To resemble their tea tradition and combine it with a modernistic feature, we want to package our product on a wide jar that will symbolize the importance of the elderly and their culture, with a transparent glass material that will add a modern touch to the jar along with the color green instead of the traditional sand color. Also, in the wideness of the jar we want to symbolize abundance and a reminder of their cultural believe in Buddhism, where although knowing Japan holds no official religion, is one of the most followed religions inside the country. Through the wideness we want them to think on Buddha´s belly, because in times of illness religion plays a big part of the Japanese culture.

¨Yagé tea¨ is going to be packed in transparent-dark-green glass jars to symbolize life and quality, and will also be transparent so that the green Yagé tea bags can stand out and give the jar a better looking dark-green. It will hold the product´s name in golden bold letters to show the product´s strength and this would be placed over a purple back-round that will symbolize both physical and mental healing. The outer packaging is going to be a combination of light and dark greens that will hold gold letters over a purple back-round with a golden stripe.


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Jar-picture: http://kr.ioffer.com/si/green+glass

The packaging is meant to be attractive, traditional and meaningful to the Japanese consumer, the whole product is thought to be perceived as a form of medical tea, and that is why the packaging will be much related to green tea products. The packaging will also try to disguise and lower Japan´s high-uncertainty avoidance toward foreign products by making it much similar to theirs, with frases like 100% natural and Tea medicine plant in the box.

Packaging will have a sophistication unique to a herbal medicine giving it a sophisticated look that will give a better image, that will reflect on the consumers top of mind of a sophisticated product, like in every western country in Japan the image of the product is very important to the cunsumers belief in the product, it also allows the product to be sold at a higher price.

The main idea into introducing a third-world-country product into a country like Japan is using their traditional and closeness to nature to benefit the entrance of the product. Yagé´s medicine produced in Colombia is the perfect western ¨natural¨ and ¨Indian traditional¨ medicine, very rare and new that can help cure diseases like cancer, and It would be a way of introducing a medicine in a country where long-time orientation is high and where elderly is wise and a very important part of society, and the Indian Yagé culture inside Colombian tribes since centuries ago is exactly a reflection of the Japanese culture.

The tea has a certain process that has to be followed by the patient to be effective and to have no side effects that could harm or endanger the patient's health, the instructions consist in eliminating from the diet pork and beef, or any derivative while the treatment, eliminating from the patients diet any milk related product, alcohol, drugs, or cigars and it cannot be used by women in their menstruating process. The treatment is done every two days for three months and the patient has to be is a stress free related environment for two hours after the consumption of the product.

These process of consuming the tea is dangers if not fallowed correctly and in cultures like the Colombian culture the process is made with surveillance of the doctor or Taita, but in Japan the problem can be avoided easily because the Japanese need and follow a proper way of doing things, "Kata" for them is so important that pending the legal manner of the introduction of the drug to Japan the medicinal tea instructions will be more easily accepted and followed in the Japanese culture, giving the medicine a better way of functioning in the individual and better results that it could have in Colombia.

The instructions will be introduced in the box in Japanese with very concrete and not over explanatory information, trying to have the impression of something easy to realize and that belongs, and not something considered outsider, communication will be in words with no graphics, and implying positive instructions, like "be a stress free environment" instead of negative instructions like "don't be in a stressful environment" that for the Japanese brings a negative connotation to the product.

Japan has some similarities with Colombia, in the Hofstede's cultural dimensions in the fact that they both manage very high uncertainty-avoidance, Japan´s uncertainty avoidance is one of the highest in the world but Colombia´s uncertainty avoidance towards herbal medicine is higher than the Japanese. If we take a look at the culture of the indigenous population in Colombia their uncertainty avoidance has to be bigger than the Colombian main population, but because of the similarities in the relationship with nature the indigenous population and the Japanese have, the product is less resistant to enter a market like Japan than the national market.

Japan is also a more masculine country than Colombia, although they are both masculine countries, this masculinity is shown in different ways. Japan is masculine due to its competitive nature and importance of the male role, while Colombia shows its masculinity in a gender difference that subjugates most women to the desires and empowerment of men in society. This similarity in Masculinity brings another advantage to the products consolidation in the market, the "Yage Tea" has a restriction towards the use of the tea by women in their process of menstruation, in Colombia´s culture as well as in the indigenous culture restricting women from the normal use of the medicine is not a problem; they would just adjust and use the product that implies the use for three months excepting those days, but in Japan people or homogenous and undermining women to the equality in the treatment could be a problem, but because women have a discrete role in society relying on "Kata", women will understand that the medicines proper way to act is that, and that the treatment will still be effective.

The spiritual and physical purge that the medicine can achieve in the patient is acquired in the process of the treatment, it has no end result without a proper way of doing the treatment, Colombians are polychromic, like most undeveloped countries, and Japanese are monochronic, very organized and time oriented, they care a lot about the right way of doing things and achieving goals, while Colombians care more about the end result than the way of achieving this result, this are reasons why "Yage Tea" has a viability in Japan while in Colombia the product is harder be understood and harder to be managed correctly.

Another aspect that will be experimented is that the "Yage Tea" creates a state of mind, different than many, changing the state of the person, creating an immediate relation to the medicine as not only having a physical reaction but also having a spiritual interaction, and for Japanese very in touch with Buddhism and Shintoism, these will be and enhanced quality of the product that with the Japanese cultural backgrounds will go good.


The consolidation of a product in a market will always be a hard process, even more when a product doesn't have the strength to brake with cultural barriers that can make the product unsuccessful in other markets, that's why the adaptation of the product is essential to introduce a product to another culture. "Yage tea" has amazing benefits to human health but is an alternative medicine that needs of many conditions to be safe and for it to be promoted is a difficult task, but the Japanese culture has a lot of the characteristics that can make the product successful and known to other parts of the world.

We also understand that the Colombian culture has so many subcultures that can enrich our core values that we don't even know about, and if we learn to have pluralism in our own nation and we understand that our culture can be magnified within our own nation, our culture would be different. Yage rituals are practices that are diminished in Colombia without the proper understanding of the immense values and benefits that they could give not only us but the World.