The Power of In-Person Meetings: A Behind-the-Scenes Look at Our Japan Innovation Tour

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Words by Emily Smith


A Large (anonymous home and personal care) Company was looking to expand its product lines and reenergize consumer interest using insights from consumer research.

As part of this initiative, yet2 embarked on an exciting innovation tour in Japan in April 2024, a venture aimed at uncovering fresh ideas and co-development opportunities for this large global company’s core product areas—skin care, oral care, hair care, and laundry.


Exploring the Japanese Market

Their tour was meticulously planned, with the goal of engaging with leading consumer goods companies in Japan, and uncovering unique trends and insights that can be brought to this company’s North American product line.

Guided by the expertise of yet2, who scouted in three languages (Japanese, Korean, and some English), we set out to learn why certain products resonated with Japanese consumers and how these innovations could be tailored for the North American market.


Building Trust and Partnerships

Understanding that Japanese business practices are consensus-driven and take time to reach a decision [link to japan bands of appropriateness blog], we prioritized building trust and facilitating meaningful conversations. Our approach included:

  • In-depth Consumer Feedback: Gathering insights on what makes products unique and desirable in Japan, such as the popularity of Korean skin care known for its herbal ingredients.
  • Customized Presentations: Coaching our client to align their presentations with Small Company’s interests, ensuring their ideas were compelling and well-prepared.
  • Efficient Logistics: Managing the logistics of obtaining and shipping samples back to our headquarters for further evaluation.


A Productive Schedule

Our agenda was packed, with 4-6 meetings per day over two days, focusing on products and companies that aligned with our strategic goals. Each meeting was an opportunity to identify potential partnerships and assess innovative products. Out of eight meetings, we identified:

  • 2 Strategic Partnership Opportunities: Companies with which we could form strong co-development partnerships.
  • 4 Product Tech Collaborations: Promising products that might be introduced to our portfolio.
  • Ongoing Evaluations: Several products still under review for their unique ingredients and market potential.


The Path Forward

As they move forward, this Large Company is dedicated to thoroughly assessing the differentiation of these products and overcoming any hurdles. Their next steps include:

  • Internal Evaluations: Reviewing samples and gathering feedback from various teams.
  • Decision-Making: Working towards finalizing deals by the end of the year, with inputs from all relevant product brand groups.
  • Strategic Meetings: Following up with partners and planning additional tours, possibly including an initial visit to Korea and follow up visit to Japan later this year to build on previous successes.


This Japan Innovation Tour was a resounding success, providing valuable insights and fostering potential collaborations that promise to enhance Large Company’s product offerings. 

By bridging cultural differences and leveraging local expertise, our client is poised to introduce unique, consumer-loved products to the North American market. Learn more about our Innovation Tour offering here.

Stay tuned as we continue to explore new frontiers in innovation and help our clients expand their global reach!


Image by David Edelstein on Unsplash

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