There was a news article a couple of days ago on the Japanese news site that KOKUYO Co., Ltd., a Japanese leading stationery and office furniture company, is planning to build a plant for notebooks in India as early as in year 2012. KOKUYO is a national brand and any Japanese students have at least one of their notebooks. Their famous dotted ruled line notebook called “Campus” is sold 20 million units annually, which means every single student in Japan buys at least one Campus notebook every year. The KOKUYO brand is an icon for Japanese students.
Therefore, it was a big surprise for me when I find out that only 3% of their revenue comes from the market outside Japan. Since its foundation in 1905, KOKUYO has been successful by doing business only in Japan for more than 100 years. The company has, however, shifted its course drastically for the past years. The 2010 annual report states their ambitious goal to increase the oversea sales from the current 3% by ten times, or to 30%, by 2020. This is a bold target. Their primary market is Asia and they have been investing in China, Vietnam, and India. With some reasons unknown to us the outsiders, either embracing opportunities of globalization as a new frontier or threatened by cheaper foreign products into the ever shrinking domestic market, this good old Japanese company has decided to venture out to the flattening world.
By the way, the reason that this news article caught my attention is not because of KOKUYO, however. Since I moved to Chennai, I have been looking for a simple and affordable notebook here, and has not been successful at all. To be precise, I was actually looking for something similar to KOKUYO’s Campus notebook. Any stationery store in Chennai, however, has only the following three types of notebooks.
1. Ones with Spiral Binding
I know I’m picky but I’m not a big fun of this type. The binding prevents you from writing to the full widht of the page.
2. Ones with Firm Back Cover
Somehow this type is popular here. The back cover is made of cardboard. It’s not a notepad; it’s a note!
3. Ones for Children
What if your business partner takes out from his briedcase a notebook with an animal cartoon on it?
Now it seems KOKUYO, partnering with Indian stationery company Camlin, is going to change the game. I truely bilieve (and hope) there is a good chance for KOKUYO to be sccessful in Indian market.
The world is rapidly changing, even to change a company who didn’t change for 100 years