ABOUT YOSHIO YOKOBORI
Q. As an international brand consultant, what do you do?
I work with various companies as their buying office and with consulting services if they want to do business with Japanese brands.
I also support Japanese companies that want to expand internationally.
So my clients are in many different places: Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore, Shanghai,Jakarta,Thailand.
Q. How did you get started in this business?
5 years ago, I was helping a friend's company to order Japanese brands.
I realized that there are many buyers who are interested in Japanese products, but they find it very difficult to contact, negotiate and order from Japanese companies - it's not just a language challenge, but it's that Japanese people are conservative and perhaps not so familiar with doing business abroad.
So I decided to start a business to be the bridge between buyers who want Japanese brands, and the Japanese companies.
Q. What do you think are the main challenges for Japanese brands trying to expand internationally?
In my opinion, the first thing Japanese brands need to do is to go to a foreign market at least once and understand the difference between international and the fashion market in Japan.
They'll quickly realize there's a huge opportunity for Japanese brands,
but they need to think differently about how to fill that.
Which leads me to the second thing, which is that it's very important to get a special partner, because it's impossible to expand overseas by themselves.
It's just like making friends: you have to meet and get close to companies that have local operations.
Having a partner means a Japanese brand can engage in test marketing to see what works best - which is something that Japanese companies expanding abroad generally don't do.
Q. How do you help them?
What I do is explain business conditions and the market to Japanese companies, and help them negotiate with local partners.
I also help to set up test marketing programs between the Japanese and partner companies in other countries.
I explain business condition and negotiate to Japanese companies for oversea companies.
Also I am setting up some test marketing for each other,Japanese company and oversea company.
Q. What have been the most important influences for you as you’ve built your business?
For my business, the most important thing has been building a network of people through introductions.
And I also think it's important to study a country's history, economics, religions and culture - all of which leads me to a lot of different ways of thinking and approaching problems and opportunities.
Q. What do you think your business will look like in say
In the next few years, I'll develop my company to cover bigger categories - beyond fashion. Fashion naturally mixes in with other industries, like lifestyle products, tourism, food, education. There's lots of opportunity for Japanese brands in these areas to grow internationally.