Toward an Age of High Added Value

At the beginning of 2016, I proclaimed my theme for the year to be “a new start.” Online shopping will take off for household appliances, and we will likely see a shift in orientation away from the cheap to the expensive. In the case of our company, our all-media “sunflower marketing” campaign, centering on the Phile-web site, is going to really take root.

We can already see a trend in online shopping in which users are switching their searches away from the cheapest items and looking for value instead. In the process, the sense of reasonableness for each individual will become clearer. Furthermore, each individual’s sense of value will come to focus not only on the product itself but also on how it is delivered. In other words, the selection of delivery method―for example, having something delivered to your door or going to pick it up somewhere―will be a value too.

Here is an example. On an online golf course reservation site, there was a drive toward lower prices. In line with the cheapest menu shown, golf courses posted unbelievably low prices. As a result, visitors placed priority on just being able to play golf, and the essential value of the courses became quite irrelevant. The course that I frequent was no exception, and I brought up the problem in a meeting with the people in charge.

For example, I said, imagine that a course is about an hour away from central Tokyo, flat and surrounded by woodland, and operated by a well-known company. Given those conditions, the owners could justly assert its value and set appropriate prices. Moreover, most people would be quite satisfied with those prices. I seem to have been right, because last year the number of visitors to that golf course reached a record high.

At a time when the decline of the golfing population is causing concern, golf courses that think only of low prices are going to unavoidably have to close. Whatever the circumstances, customer-oriented business will not be successful, and you won’t be able to assert value, unless you have the leeway to respond with an attitude of hospitality.

I come from an inconvenient mountainous village in Oita Prefecture. When I launched the Phile-web site back in 2002, speaking at various places on the theme of online sales, I said that “Mitsukoshi Department Store has come to your home.” There are three kinds of products, I said: (1) those that require neither distribution nor follow-up service, (2) those that require distribution but no follow-up service, and (3) those that require both distribution and follow-up service. As examples, I cited financial products and online delivered content for (1), local products and books for (2), and household appliances and other hardware for (3).

At that time the problem of mail-order sales was being discussed at meetings of large makers, but they were unable to reach any conclusion. Thanks to my categorization of three types of products, however, each category came to be discussed separately, and I heard that, as a result, meetings came to proceed much more smoothly. Fourteen years later, a new sense of reasonableness in value is required. I feel that once again a new phase is beginning.

In this environment, Phile-web has grown into a site that attracts more than a million viewers a month. I hope to promote the true fusion of the Internet and real world in a realistic form and create audiovisual value.