Thursday, April 23, 2009

Time for a Morale Booser...Asian Style

Last week's Economist had a nice little feature on Yuzaburo Mogi, the leader of Kikkoman. You know, the soy sauce people. I had never heard of this gentleman before, but apparently his family was one of the founding families of the company, which "traces its origins to the early 17th century." I'm a sucker for some good soy sauce, so this story's got some special meaning for me. Regardless, it's a great business article all-around.

Mr. Mogi, apparently, is not afraid to break with tradition when it comes to growing his firm. In the fifties, Kikkoman marketed their sauce as an "all-purpose seasoning" so as to attract June Cleaver and her friends. They introduced terriyaki sauce in the U.S., designed for U.S. consumers as a barbecue glaze (I had no idea), and are now eyeing South American tastes, "such as a soy sauce that can be sprinkled on rice--something that is not done in Japan." They're also trying to sell soy sauce in China (which seems like selling cheese in Wisconsin). In the land of cheap knock-offs, Mogi is planning to sell his usually mainstream product as a premium brand.

Read the article. It'll make you feel good about the world for a few minutes.

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