German Luxury Brands Flirt with Japan

It should come as no surprise to La Vida Leica regulars that Leica Camera AG has a growing (if not popular) presence in Japan. In fact, the most recent and ambitious (if not coolest) Leica Store resides in Kyoto. An article over on Wirtschafts Woche ("Business Weekly") examines the growing trend across multiple German luxury brands to establish a foothold there. Due, in part, to the falling demand in China (not because of the products, but rather the environment there). Check out the article, "German luxury manufacturers flirt with Japan" (in German).

It's a bit of a long article, which we won't reprint here in it's entirety; rather just the Leica-related section. If you'd like to read the entire article, see this translation into English (via Google).

Except for one, no other international manufacturer is offered the presence of a flagship store within expensive shopping locations like the Mitsukoshi department store. Leading the way was Leica. The last German camera manufacturer tried in 2006 to establish their first business in Japan and then exported the concepts from Japan to the world. Today, Leica has eight shops and boutiques in electronics stores in Japan, generating two-thirds of sales. In a mature market such as Japan, many people possess luxury goods, says the Japanese regional manager Kazunori Fuke. "For those consumers, it is no longer about the product itself, but looking for a special experience when buying."

Therefore Leica staged a similar elaborate presence as jewelry producer Wellendorff did in Japan. The company from Wetzlar in Hessen presents its cameras in stores as individual pieces like a museum and to its own history based on historical models. The camera manufacturer wants so also bring its customers closer to the soul of the company.

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For the newest store in the historic center of the former imperial city of Kyoto, the Germans specially renovated a 100-year old wooden house. For courses of the Leica Akademie, customers can experience the benefits of the cameras themselves in a professional studio above the shop. A wider range should appeal to the demanding amateur photographer and also attract beginners and women. "There is still much room for Leica growth in Japan," says Kazunori Fuke, who came from the French luxury group Hermès, which has nearly half of the Japanese Leica daughter.