I listened in on a UKTI webinar this week about possible opportunities for UK businesses at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. Naturally, given the experience and success of London 2012, thoughts have turned to whether British companies can contribute and indeed benefit commercially from this.
It is however prudent to note that since Japan is a very well developed country with previous Olympic experience and many cutting-edge technologies already in place, it would not be the best market entry strategy to go in assuming they are in need of your expertise and don’t know what they are doing- this attitude may ruin your chance of success even before you have started! However, the UKTI have identified market areas where initial opportunities lie should you have a niche USP for your product, preferably proven expertise, a solid market plan, an insight into the Japanese way of doing business and most importantly the right connections. These were summarised as;
- Interior and graphic design
- Security and safety
- Cyber security
- Sports related technology
- Coaching and training equipment
- (My own added in) Energy saving technologies
As to how to start your business dealings with Japan, their advice matched my own-do your market research and start making contacts now! Connections and relationships are key to doing business in Japan, which usually take a long time to foster to the point of gaining their trust and sealing the deal. As has happened in previous Olympics, bids are usually sent out to local partners first, so partnering with Japanese companies in these areas may be a more viable and manageable option than going it alone. It may even be worth looking at the Sponsors and see if there are any potential inroads there. Be especially careful of red tape (an infamous bug-bear in Japanese business dealings) and the use of the Olympic logos, which have very strict guidelines and will be unusable for most SMEs partnering with Japanese businesses.
The bidding process will not start until after the formation of the TOCOG (Tokyo Organising Committee of the Olympic Games) next February and their methodology will be dictated heavily by the IOC. TOCOG will then make this information public according to its own guidelines. The UK Foreign Secretary has submitted the offer of a host-to-host agreement from London 2012 and Japan is considering this and the UKTI anticipate holding various seminars in Tokyo about lessons learned from London 2012.
Please contact me should you need market research or help with facilitating connections.