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Haddock-Fraser, J., Poole, Nigel and Doishita, M. (2009) 'The failure of multinational food retailers in Japan: a matter of convenience?' British Food Journal, 111 (4). pp. 327-348.

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Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to address the question of why world major supermarket chains have been unsuccessful so far in the Japanese market. The paper considers arguments from the literature that differences in consumer attitudes and behaviour between the two markets may be the determinants of the success, or otherwise, of the large US and European supermarkets. Design/methodology/approach – A review of literature about Western and Japanese retailing is followed by an account of exploratory empirical research into Japanese consumer grocery purchasing and consumption behaviour. Findings – The results support an argument that the large store “one-stop shopping” supermarket format popular in the UK/EU is not and will not be the preferred format in Japan. Convenience, matters, but it is not the same concept as in the UK, for example. Research limitations/implications – The sample survey is purposively biased towards younger female shoppers from the working population who will have a significant impact on future consumer behaviour patterns. Results are more inferential than statistically validated hypotheses. Practical implications – Supermarket chains should open a larger number of smaller stores, concentrating on frequently delivered and high quality products, above all in the fresh foods categories. Moreover, the growth of the small “convenience” store format in markets such as the UK and California suggests that “western” consumers' desires for convenience are becoming more like those of Japanese consumers. Originality/value – The paper shows that there has been little effort, to date, to demonstrate through primary research whether unique characteristics and buying behaviour do exist in the Japanese marketplace.

Item Type: Journal Article
SOAS Departments & Centres: Departments and Subunits > Interdisciplinary Studies > Centre for Development, Environment and Policy
Legacy Departments > Faculty of Law and Social Sciences > School of Finance and Management > Centre for Development, Environment and Policy (CeDEP)
ISSN: 0007070X
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 25 Jun 2009 08:53

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