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Natural cosmetics firm Joik makes a successful launch in the Japanese market

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Japan has become the largest export country for Estonia’s handmade candle and natural cosmetics producer Joik, which has managed to quickly increase the sales volume in the Japanese market in just eight months.

Joik was not looking for a distributor in Japan, but a representative from Plaza department store in Japan found information on the Estonian natural cosmetics producer from a fashion blog. “They liked the Nordic-type simple style of our products and that the products are hand-made in Estonia,” the company’s marketing and export manager, Kadri Mäesalu, said. The Japanese think that Joik’s products are a sub-niche in natural cosmetic products – natural, but at the same time luxurious (i.e nice looking and good smelling).

Mäesalu said that it is much more difficult to start exporting to Japan compared to EU countries because the entry rules are very different. It took nine months for Joik to get a product sent over, she said, adding that rules on cosmetic product imports are particularly strict in Japan.

Mäesalu thinks that the strict rules is one of the reasons why so few Estonian companies export their products to Japan. Furthermore, products must have extremely good quality, and if there are any disadvantages in quality, Mäesalu thinks one must forget the idea of selling to Japan. Mäesalu recommends having proper marketing materials, plus good visibility on different channels. “The basis is naturally that one must have an original product that catches the eye,” she says.

Mäesalu describes that the Japanese way of doing business is extraordinarily precise and concrete, and they expect the same from their partners. They are very happy to get their letters answered quickly and goods dispatched quickly. “We live in different time zones, so to solve a simple thing can take several days if anyone procrastinates in providing an answer,” Mäesalu said.

Joik plans to extend its sales in Japan. Right now its products are sold in 25 shops, but in three years the plan is to be represented in all 70 Plaza department stores. Most of Joik’s sales go to Estonia, as export accounts for 35% of turnover. The company began engaging more in export in 2012. Japan is now its largest export country, followed by Finland, Norway, Latvia and Sweden.

Source: Gabral, K. (2013) Joik lõi Jaapanis läbi. Kaubandus.ee, 15. november.

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Joik´s soaps

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Joik´s incented candles

Webpage: www.joik.ee