Innovation in the Japanese tea industry, 1970–2020
Keywords:marketing strategy, innovation, traditional industries, Japan, tea industry, IPR
This paper studies the technological innovation and new marketing strategies that enabled firms from traditional industries to pursue their existence in a disruptive environment. As a case study, we follow an approach from classical business history and industry studies, focusing on the Japanese tea industry to analyse how it has innovated to survive in a fast-changing environment over the last five decades. Based on various resources (official data from Tea Industry Association, patents and trademark data, reports, interviews, etc.), this paper emphasises three marketing strategies that supported its survival: product development based on technological innovation (transformation of the true nature of green tea from a commodity to a branded good), brand management (repositioning of some specific teas in the growing luxury market) and internationalisation (expansion in foreign markets through exports). This research also emphasises the major role played by large corporations to support industrial transformation.
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