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Beyond the Bale : June August 2009
16 gLOBaL marKeTing TOPiC in Here Shower clean Suit a hit in Japan June – august 2009 June – July 2009 Beyond the Bale Marketing The Shower Clean Suit continues to wow Japanese businessmen, who are attracted to its easy-care attributes, such as being washable under a warm shower By Rowena Robertson t he puremerino wool Shower Clean Suit was a huge hit in Japan in spring/summer 2008. every Shower Clean Suit that Japanese clothing company Konaka manufactured ‘walked out’ of their 300 stores. The Shower Clean Suit was developed in 2007 by aWi and The Woolmark Company in association with Konaka. it is a stylish business suit that can be washed in warm water in a domestic shower. a few minutes of water spray on the inside and then the outside are all that is required, then the suit drip-dries without creases and is ready to wear again. The suit was launched by Konaka in December 2007, and was commercially available from February 2008. This first version of the suit was in a weight that was ideal for the humid Japanese summer, and became a men’s wear sensation. mahua Das, aWi global product manager for wovens, says the success was staggering: “all stock sold out at double the speed that was originally targeted.” The product was one of nikkei Trendy magazine’s ‘Best 30 Hits’ of 2008, and won various other business/retail prizes. The suit’s success can be attributed partly to a savvy and widespread initial marketing campaign by Konaka (including prime-time Tv ads with an estimated value of $6 million), which side-stepped an overt focus on the technological aspects of the suit that allowed it to be washed in the shower and instead focused on style, its ‘eco-friendliness’ and its easy-care qualities. The media then fuelled interest in the actual shower cleaning element. “in Japan it was a sensation because of the environmental aspect and because of its novelty – the idea that you can wash a suit under a shower,”mahua says. “it’s a cute concept for the Japanese – the whole country lives by that concept and that’s why so many followers are jumping on the bandwagon.” These ‘followers’ include other Japanese companies like aoki, which has now developed its Shower Wash Suit, and Takakyu, which has developed the Doctor Suit – products that mimic, but don’t exactly replicate, the original Shower Clean Suit. general manager of Konaka, mr iwaya, believes that the sustainability element of the suit is the primary reason for its popularity, as sustainability is an issue that is covered widely in the Japanese media. This has led to greater consumer awareness of sustainability issues and greater demand for sustainable products. He also feels that the relative unusualness of sustainable clothing is a factor. “in automobiles and the home electronics market, for example, you can find eco-conscious products easily, but in the clothing market very few products are seen and understood as ecology products,”mr iwaya says. “Our Shower Clean Suits went to market in such conditions. [The suit] has all the benefits of wool fibre … [and] can be washed easily without using detergent.” material from the savvy campaign by konaka. key pointS l The Shower Clean Suit can be washed in the shower l The suit’s success is partly due to a savvy marketing campaign l A new range of Shower Clean garments will be available soon in Japan “ all Stock Sold out at douBle the Speed that WaS originally targeted.” Konaka’s solid marketing groundwork has primed consumers for its new, more sophisticated marketing campaign, which will include a greater focus on the technology behind the suit and an emphasis on how the Shower Clean Suit differs from the competing products on the market. Shower Clean women’s suits are now available in Japan, and Konaka is in the process of producing an autumn/winter version of the suit that has a different handle and will be available all year round. The range is also being extended to include women’s wear, business shirts and casual garments; Shower Clean shirts will be available in July 2009 in Japan, and the casual range will follow soon afterwards. More information: www.konaka.co.jp/item/01a/top.html
April May 2009
September November 2009