Sell Regional Brands to the Market of the Capital, Moscow! Hokkaido Presentation 2010

|Russia

People who have visited Vladivostok, Khabarovsk and Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk, major cities of the Russian Far East region, will have probably been surprised at abundant Japanese food—including condiments such as soy sauce and wasabi, cup noodles, and confectionary—being on sale in the shop windows of supermarkets around the region. The local market prices for Japanese food are from three to four times those in Japan, but there are also some local wholesalers selling Japanese food which they have imported themselves, putting it onto special shelves in all kinds of supermarkets.

Meanwhile on the Moscow market, which has a surging sushi boom, the supermarkets selling Japanese food are still limited. There have, of course, been specialist places for Japanese food within Moscow since Soviet times, but at present the places where you can always get your hands on Japanese food are only a portion of the supermarkets for the wealthy.

Against this background, the sales-war of the local authorities on the Japan Sea coast is continuing, taking the market of the Russian Far East as its next target, and local authorities have appeared that are pursuing sales to the market of the capital city, Moscow, with its population of ten million people.

Hokkaido, which has continued economic exchange with three regions of the Russian Far East from 1992 on, is one of these. In October 2010 Hokkaido dispatched a public and private sector joint mission to Moscow which had the objective of establishing Hokkaido’s brand-image. While there, we carried out one presentation each for an invited audience and for the general public on such things as Hokkaido food and tourism, Hokkaido’s advantageous technologies and industries including those related to architecture and the environment, and the achievements in exchange with Russia.

While being involved as the secretariat for this mission, it had results which defied—in the good sense—our expectations. The first thing was that we were able to garner participants from the general public of Moscow while in Sapporo. On the preliminary survey three weeks before the holding of the presentations, we undertook public relations activities, including sending information about the holding of the presentations to local websites which showcase Japan and carried out the distribution of fliers to the Japan Center in Moscow, specialist places for Japanese food, and Japanese restaurants. At the same time applications for participation were all by means of applying via accessing a website which had the information about the holding of the presentations on it. As a result, there were several applications for participation each day, and they were full up several days before the presentations. Initially, it was doubtful whether it would be possible to garner participants by application via a website, and in the worst case scenario we were even prepared to attract people in on the day. In reality, however, on the day we had the happy outcome of approximately 80% attendance of those who had applied to participate.

The second thing was that Hokkaido was unexpectedly well-known. In the results of the questionnaire 70–80% of people answered “I know it well” or “I know of it”, and, different to what was expected, an outcome of high recognizability was attained, reflecting the reporting of the staging of the Toyako summit, etc., by the mass media. In addition it was a surprise that the response rate to the questionnaire exceeded 70%. The promotional message of “free gift of Hokkaido confectionery” in the fliers distributed in advance may have done the trick, but this time around not only was the response rate high, but also many opinions were contributed in the free-response section.

The second thing was that Hokkaido was unexpectedly well-known. In the results of the questionnaire 70–80% of people answered “I know it well” or “I know of it”, and, different to what was expected, an outcome of high recognizability was attained, reflecting the reporting of the staging of the Toyako summit, etc., by the mass media. In addition it was a surprise that the response rate to the questionnaire exceeded 70%. The promotional message of “free gift of Hokkaido confectionery” in the fliers distributed in advance may have done the trick, but this time around not only was the response rate high, but also many opinions were contributed in the free-response section.

Amid the stalemate in “nation to nation” relations, I would like to hope for the further deepening of mutual understanding via the progressing of “region to region” relations.

[Translated by ERINA]