The committed brand is well known, almost worldwide, for its bio and affordable products. These values fit perfectly the Japanese vision of beauty and aesthetics. This embodies clear market opportunity for Yves Rocher, which hence our will to enter this market. However, Japanese culture has special features that are important to study and to connect with our company profile, before operating in the country: * Japanese have a strong team spirit, that’s why it’s really important for Japanese employees to have a defined group’s identity, cohesion and objectives on their workplace. Traditions, respect of nature and beauty play a big role in the every day life of Japanese residents. That’s why the environmental commitment of Yves Rocher must be a notion explained to the employees, to federate them to the brand. * A high level of education is culturally crucial for the Japanese. A large number of employees have the executive status, and well-known universities graduate each year future efficient executives. This would enable Yves Rocher to share decision-making decisions to the local executives.
This report also analyse the cultural differences that could raise issues within the business, and give recommendations to avoid it: * Negotiation process takes a longer time in Japan, as decisions must be confirmed by superiors. To deal with this issue, managers must clearly identify the hierarchy system. Also, Japanese are not demonstrative and practice silence during negotiation, which raise difficulties to acknowledge their interests. * Yves Rocher managers should pay particular intention to management differences explored through the Hofstede theory. To adapt ourselves to the Japanese relationship codes, the Trompenaar theory shows us that the communication should be strictly objective, not express much emotions, but that the creation of a good group atmosphere is crucial. Also special treatments must be avoided. THE COMPANY PROFILE Created in 1959 in a small town of Brittany (France), Yves Rocher is the international leader company on the market of plant-based cosmetics. It belongs to Yves Rocher Group and generates 64% of the group’s turnover with a result of more that 1,4 billions euros.
The brand exists now in more than 80 countries with almost 2000 outlets retails worldwide. The company has developed during the 50 last years, a unique expertise and business model, which attracts feminine customers from all over the five continents. Indeed a long time before modern beauty-products began to work on plant biology, Mr Yves Rocher already made it highest priority. The brand has chosen to keep the control on every aspect of its operations: botanical and scientific research on plants, inventive ingredients development, raw material supplying, shipping and distribution worldwide.
By creating in 2009 the concept “L’Atelier Vegetal” (the plant-based beauty studio) in all its stores, Yves Rocher clearly shows its positioning as bio and committed brand. The aim of its products is to enable the women to be pretty with the best of the plants and that the two (women and nature) respect each other. Since the 70s, the company grows internationally with her own particular export strategy. First, directly-operated stores are created to make the brand known in the country and then, franchises are developed in order to cover the territory, as it will be the case in Japan.
To manage the brand worldwide, the directors have decided to decentralize the decision-making. Each country has its own leader, which enable the company to adapt easily its strategy to the social, economic, and managerial characteristics of the countries and its market. In our case study, we will focus on the cultural characteristics the manager of Yves Rocher in Japan should be aware in order to succeed the implementation of the brand on a managerial point of view. 1. 0 JAPAN’S PROFILE 2. 1 Introduction
Japan is an island nation in East Asia. It is located in the Pacific Ocean, and lies to the east of the Sea of Japan, China, North Korea, South Korea and Russia. Being close to all of these countries and particularly China is an advantage for trading. Japan is sometimes referred to the « land of the rising sun » as its name means « sun-origin ». Japan is an archipelago of 6,852 islands. The four largest islands are Honshu, Hokkaido, Kyushu, and Shikoku. These represent about 97% of Japan’s territory.
Therefore, we already know that most of the business is made in these areas and particularly Tokyo and its surroundings as it is the largest metropolitan area in the world with more than 30 million residents. Tokyo, its capital is the centre of business and companies implanting in Japan should start by Tokyo, as there is a huge potential there. It has the world’s tenth-largest population, with over 127 million people, which also represent many potential customers. Japan’s government system is a parliamentary government with a constitutional monarchy. The chief of state is the Emperor and the head of government is the Prime Minister. . 2 Cultural Profile 1. 2. 1 Social Structure Amongst the 127 million of people living in Japan, 98,5% are ethnic Japanese, 0,5% are Korean, 0,4% Chinese and 0,6% other groups such as Brazilians. 99,5% of the population being Asian, there is not much diversity in population so the range of products in cosmetics, for example, mainly needs to adapt to one group: the main one. Japan is a homogeneous society, as it does not exhibit, unlike many countries, ethnic, religious and class divisions. The gap between rich and poor is very small as 90% of Japanese consider themselves part of the middle class.
However, this is only recent because previously there were profound social and economic differences between commoners and Japan’s aristocracy. Having a large middle-class means that most potential customers are part of this class. Therefore, if the brand’s positioning is not too luxurious with reasonable prices, the company’s potential success is big. Japan is considered as a collectivist country, significantly group-orientated. Membership in groups is very important and the individual is taught to be dedicated to the group: personal interest is less important that group benefit.
Defining a group’s identity, objectives and cohesion is therefore very important and companies implanting in Japan should not forget to do so. It is an advantage for companies as Japanese are very faithful and will fight for their company’s achievement no matter what. Status and age is very important: people have to show respect to seniors. 1. 2. 2 Religion Shinto and Buddhism are Japan’s two major religions. These two religions have “collaborated” in peace for many years in Japan, as some people believe in both. (84%) Shinto religion involves the worship of “kami” which means spirits.
The Shintoism followers worship all forms of nature, charismatic people and abstracts concepts. Therefore, a business with natural products would probably appeal a lot to Shintoists. Religion doesn’t play a very big role in today’s Japanese people’s everyday life. The average person would follow the religious rituals (birth, wedding funerals). However, it is not part of their main hobbies and therefore has not a big influence on what business should or shouldn’t do regarding religion. 1. 2. 3 Japanese aesthetics The Japanese aesthetic is a combination of ancient ideals, including wabi transient and stark beauty), sabi (the beauty of natural patina and aging), and yugen (profound grace and subtlety). These ideals influence a lot of the Japanese cultural and aesthetic norms and define what is considered tasteful or beautiful. They are part of daily life. Throughout these ideals we can see that beauty and nature is very important to Japanese people. Implanting Yves Rocher, a natural cosmetic brand, seems to have a high potential in Japan. Japanese art include pottery and ceramics as well as calligraphic writing or origami, hogaku (music).
Art is even represented by women called geishas. They are considered as national treasures and are still practiced today. Therefore, Japanese people are very attached and sensible to their history and traditions. They believe in Shinto and Buddha, respect nature and the beauty of things and people. 1. 2. 4 Recreation, sports and other leisure activities The standard leisure activities that Japanese are involved in are dining out, enjoying time with friends and family, sports, music and more recently, fashion. The Japanese spend part of their free time playing sports with their family.
Martial arts are practiced, Sumo fights are watched, but the most popular sport is baseball. Indeed, it is taught at school and people of all ages can play. Concerning less physical games, Japanese enjoy “shog”, their traditional form of chess and also enjoy visiting theme parks such as Disneyland in Tokyo. Japan’s main cities (Tokyo and Osaka) offer many leisure and entertainment activities (rock concerts to traditional theatre). Like everywhere, there are many cinemas, theatres, concerts, bars and nightclubs. Japanese love Karaoke bars, with their friends and family.
Japanese have a good sense of humour, enjoy spending free and fun times with their family and friends. With a high purchasing power, it isn’t a problem for them to spend money on leisure. Japanese people are not afraid of consuming. 1. 3 Market opportunity 1. 3. 1 Economy Japan’s industrialised, free-market economy is the third largest in the world. It is a member of the G8 and its GDP per capita was at $ 39 578,07 in 2012, according to the World Bank. This represents 320% of the world’s average GDP, which is a crucial matter to consider when willing entering a foreign market. Japanese have money to consume.
Japan has the largest electronics goods industry and is therefore regularly said to be one of the world’s most innovative countries. It now focuses on high-tech and precision goods like robots, optical products and hybrid cars. Note than Japan is the world’s third largest manufacturing country and that it has very few natural resources due to their mountainous geography. Nevertheless, Japan has a large advantage regarding industrial leadership and technicians, well-educated and industrious work force that has helped it become a mature industrial efficient and competitive economy.
After many factors such as new competitors arriving on their markets (e. g :South Korea) and a decrease in demand for its goods, Japan’s “bubble economy” slowly collapsed during the 1990s. However, since 2010 Japan is recovering. Its GDP has increased of 16,5% between 2010 and 2012 ($5032,9 billion to 5867,1 in 2012). (Trade Economics). Proof it is a strong and competitive country. Also interesting for businesses willing to enter the Japanese market, its GDP per capital has grown of 4,8% between the same period. Thanks to all this information, we can say that Japan has a strong economy, mostly based on electronics.
Services and distribution are its main weaknesses, which therefore leave foreign firms (such as Yves Rocher) their chances to enter the market successfully. 1. 3. 2 Labour force In 2012, Japan’s labour force was of 65,27 million which represented 59,6% of the population and 5,1% of this force was unemployed. (Indexmundi) It is important to note that Japanese are very loyal to their company: most people work for the same company their entire life. They are said to have a remarkable motivation, as the achievement of the company is more important than personal achievement.
This is a serious advantage for companies hiring Japanese people as they will rarely go and see competitors. The structure of the labour force is being affected by the ageing of the population as well as the increase of working women and the worker’s rising education. Indeed, there are more and more executives. It is important to note that labour unions exist in Japan to defend employee’s rights. 1. 3. 3 Competition If we focus on the cosmetic market in Japan (as it concerns Yves Rocher) we must consider that it is a very competitive and sophisticated markets in the world.
There are more than 1 000 companies (local and foreign) fighting for this market. Note that only 15% of the market is owned by domestic companies (Kanebo, Shiseido). This is favourable to us as Japanese are attracted by foreign brands and particularly European. French brands are very popular thanks to its luxurious and good quality reputation. Therefore, the Japanese market seems a real opportunity for Yves Rocher as the company has French quality and natural products. Exactly what Japanese expect. 1. 3. 4 Family and Sex roles and Education
Japanese families are mostly nuclear, composed of a couple and its children living together. Gender inequality is still very present in Japan. The proverbial motto « good wife, Wise mother » continues to influence the beliefs about women’s roles. Many Japanese women believe it is in their family’s and society’s interests that they stay at home and devote their time to their children, especially when they are young. Women are usually responsible for their family’s budget, educations and life-styles. The father’s role is to assure a monthly income. Only a few modern families share roles.
Even though some women have had higher education and work, they are paid 40% less than men, which doesn’t push them to study and work. Meanwhile, more and more have a professional career. Indeed, in some sectors such as beauty, fashion, retailing it is necessary to employ women. For businesses, employing women can be cost-effective and can create a real brand identity that would appeal to Japanese females. Education is compulsory at the elementary level and junior high school level. More and more students go to university (40% of the population) and have played an important role in Japan’s recovery post WW2.
Japan has an efficient educational system. Indeed, Japan has a 100% literacy rate and The University of Tokyo, for example, is ranked 5th out of Asia’s 20 best universities. Japan’s population is educated, polite and has many good engineers. Accounting, business, law and even fashion are becoming more and more popular. Proof the country has educated executives. This is an advantage that should not be neglected when willing to set-up in Japan. Indeed, these executives could be great help concerning adaptation, laws, and mindset… 2. 0 BUSINESS ISSUES 3. 3 Negociation
Negotiating in Japan is very different from our western culture; therefore it’s important to consider their business codes. As we have previously said Japan is a communitarist country. We can see this when negotiating: they put group goals above individual wants and needs. Another issue is that Japanese appreciate silence during negotiation. For them, silence is a time for thought and reflexion, this is very different from our culture where silence reflects disagreement. This is why it is hard to negotiate with Japanese: it is difficult to acknowledge their interests. Japanese are very respectful and polite.
They give a lot of importance to title and status. It is forbidden to criticize somebody in public and they always want to avoid conflict. Another important fact is that decisions don’t come quickly in Japan indeed it is very bureaucratic society (lot of rules and regulations). The negotiators need approval from their managers so decision-making is longer than in West-European countries. The Asian and particularly Japanese culture don’t show their feelings this is why negotiators should not kiss or hug their Asian partners. All these cross-cultural differences need to be seriously considered and applied when negotiating in Japan. 3. Management France and Japan are two countries, which present completely different cultural codes. For our Yves Rocher cross-cultural managers it’s compulsory to know this differences to manage them. The Hofstede’s theory is usually used to put forward these main cultural differences and to help managers to understand and adapt their management to the host country. Hofstede’s theory (Source: http://geert-hofstede. com) 1 – Power distance Japan has a score of 54. It means that Japan is a mildly hierarchical society. Japanese culture have a strong notion of « everybody born equal ». France score is 68. It differs from the Japanese culture.
In fact, in France inequalities and differences are accepted. For a French manager it’s important to reliever that Japanese people live in a meritocracy society. Yves Rocher’s managers have to know that Japanese employees don’t like inequalities. Our managers should know that every Japanese employee must have the same treatment. 2 – Individualism / Collectivism Japan with a score of 46, is a collectivism society. The degree of interdependence is not as much important as other countries in Asia, but still important. The notion of “Collectivism society” means that people act according to collective opinion.
People act, because someone told them to do it. France society is completely this opposite. In fact French people act because they decided by themselves. France is a strong individual society. For an Yves Rocher manager it’s important to retain that Japanese people like the idea to belong to a group. That’s why it’s a key point for a manager to know that a Japanese worker prefers works in Team. For a manager a “participative leadership approach” seems to be the best solution to manage their Japanese employees. 3 – Masculinity/ Feminity Japan is one of the most Masculinity societies in the world.
Japanese culture is driven by the importance of competition, achievement and success. Being a good worker make of you a respectable person. France, with a score of 46, is a Feminity society. It means that French culture is more driven by the goal of a “good way of living”. For our French manager it’s important to retain that Japanese goal at work is to be the best. It’s important for an Yves Rocher manager to reward and congratulate employees. Give them feedback about their work is really important. 4 – Uncertain avoidance Japan and France present similarities in this cultural aspect.
In fact both societies don’t like the uncertain situation. Everything has to be plan and scheduled. Organization by forecast is very important. For a French manager nothing has to change with his normal organization. 5 – Long-term orientation/ Short-term orientation Japan orientation is on the long term. In fact, companies, contracts, relations, everything is made to work on the long run. In France things are different. French people would like results on short term that’s why they favor short-term orientations. For a French manager it’s important to consider that Japanese society is long term oriented.
The Confucius influence is strong and to respect it the Yves Rocher Manager have to understand that relations created for business and contracts made, are made on the long run, and avoid to change it or destroy it for a short-term strategy. As we can see, Japan society is an atypical society, which works with very special codes. That’s the reason why Yves Rocher should avoid ethnocentrism behavior to enter in Japan. To introduce our brand, Yves Rocher, in Japan it’s really important to adapt our Management and leadership. However it’s also essential to adapt our communication within the company. . 5 Communication We will use the Trompenaar’s theory focused on cross-cultural communication, to analyze and to adapt our communication to the Japanese system. – Trompenaar’s theory 1- Universalism/Particularism Japan society is a Particularism society. It means that Japanese workers applies rules and systems objective without any consideration for an individual circumstance. France is a Universalism society. This kind of society puts the obligation on relationship, feeling. Our Yves Rocher manager should be objective in any of its professional relations. 2- Neutral/ Emotional
At work Japanese people are Neutral. They don’t like display emotions. For Japanese, emotions are unprofessional. In France the situation is not clear. It’s between emotional and Neutral. For our Yves Rocher Manager it’s important to consider that Japanese people are a High context culture. They don’t like express emotions and it’s hard to “read” in them. Our manager should be very neutral to not shock his future employees. 3- Specific / Diffuse Japanese society is diffuse. Work spills into personnel relationships. Work constitutes the main foundation of Japanese life. In France this is the opposite situation.
Our Manager should understand that work is the center of Japanese life. Create a good atmosphere at work is essential for Japanese workers. 4- Achievement/ Ascription Japanese society is based on achievement. In fact, as we said in the Management part, Japanese society is based on the principle “everyone born equal”. At work Japanese are hired because of what’s they do (experiences, internship…). In France the society is more based on ascription. Employees are hire because of what they are. For our Managers it’s important to considerate this factor. In fact Japanese people are against any special treatment. Other communications variables 1- Language Communication in Japan is intricate. In fact the official language is only spoken in Japan. Moreover they have they own alphabet and it does exist many dialects. It’s difficult for any foreigner to understand any Japanese languages because it’s full of sign and codes that it’s difficult to interpret. The main issue is that only 5% of the Japanese speak English. In fact for Japanese it’s also difficult to learn English. For our Yves Rocher Manager it’s important to speak the Japanese language to avoid any misunderstandings and losses of information. 2- Non verbal language
Japan society has an important non-verbal language, it’s a high context culture. In fact their language is based on symbols, rituals, music… They use the paralanguage and the Kinesic behavior. For our Manager it’s important to understand that in Japan a gesture is more important than any word. Eye contact, silences, salutations everything has different meaning. That’s why our Yves Rocher Manager should be aware of every of this special codes. 3- Role In Japan company’s organization, hierarchy is linear. It’s important to consider for our Manager because communication between each employees is very important.
Roles in Japan are not well defined. Employees are usually a part of a team. Employees are considered in a group and not individually. The role of the manager in Japan is to coordinate the action of different group. Our Manager should understand that his role in a Japanese organization is to communicate and to be the link between different entities. Yves Rocher should adapt its entire Management and communication system if we want to enter in Japan. In fact Japan is an atypical society, full of codes that is important to understand and consider.
Communication in Japan has to be more formal and indirect. Our futures Managers must be trained or need to have any experiences in the Japanese market before. Conclusion Our company has already experienced successful implementation in Asia, and particularly in China, which means that we have the skills to adapt our management to the specific features of a country. But in order to take advantage of the opportunity that the Japanese market represents, our managers must remain aware of the several cultural differences that occur between the Japanese culture and the French one.
One of the most managerial challenges would be to create the group cohesion that is crucial for Japanese employees, by using particular verbal and non-verbal codes. However, Japanese think that work is central in life and that fulfill the objectives respond to the group interest but also their interest. This is why working with Japanese collaborators seems also really promising. REFERENCES * Business in Japan Retrieved from http://www. onken. com/classroom/internationalmanagement/Japan/Nonverbalcommunication. html * Japan Business Etiquette, Cultures & Manners Retrieved from http://www. cyborlink. com/besite/japan. htm Cosmetics to Japan, Australian Government Austrade, November 2011 Retrieved from http://www. austrade. gov. au/Export/Export-Markets/Countries/Japan/Industries/Cosmetics * Japan: Economy, Global EGDE Retrieved from http://globaledge. msu. edu/countries/japan/economy * Japon, Index Mundi Retrieved from http://www. indexmundi. com/fr/japon/ * La franchise Yves Rocher connait le succes a l’international, Mars 2013 Retrieved from http://www. ouvrirmafranchise-magasin. com/La-franchise-Yves-Rocher-connait-le-succes-a-l-international,191-actualite. html * Yves Rocher Group Website http://www. groupe-yvesrocher. com/en