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1 In Japan, whether you are in Tokyo, Osaka or Nagoya, just turn your head and Louis Vuitton is everywhere. The celebration of the 30th anniversary of the presence of the illustrious, glittering French multinational in Japan took place in Aoyama, one of Tokyo’s fashionable districts. A unique vision of luxury took shape when Louis Vuitton opened yet another new store inside Comme des Garçons on September 4, 2008, in the heart of Japan’s capital. The pop-up store situated on the prestigious Omotesando Street was an illustration of Louis Vuitton’s attachment to the Japanese luxury market.
2 Yves Carcelle, chairman and CEO of Louis Vuitton, said, “This project not only brings a new meaning to luxury, but also speaks volumes about how the know-how and heritage of Louis Vuitton have always been perceived in Japan, including by its foremost designers. We are very proud to have been able to help Rei Kawakubo2 relive her memories in such an original and creative way.”3 The Omotesando guerrilla marketing event reflected Louis Vuitton’s success in Japan. Louis Vuitton had been following an aggressive marketing strategy in the country, opening extravagant stores such as those in Ginza or Roppongi. Take a walk on Ginza’s main street, Chuo Dori, the centre of a paradise for shoppers, with long-established department stores, such as Mitsukoshi, Takashimaya and Matsuzakaya. Continue through the high-end fashion street Namiki-dori. Stop. There it is. You have reached the massive flagship Louis Vuitton store.
3 When Louis Vuitton, the world’s biggest luxury-goods firm, inaugurated its huge shop in 2002 in the district of Omotesando, Tokyo, hundreds of people were queued outside. During the first few days, sales exceeded the initial estimations by ¥1 million.4 In the last decade, Japan had been Louis Vuitton’s most profitable market, representing almost half of its profits, but it seemed that with the 2008–2009 economic crisis, there might be the start of a decline in sales.
4 Facing a weak economy and a shift in consumer preferences, Louis Vuitton started adapting its strategy in the Japanese market. The days of charging a high price for products with a proprietary logo seemed to be gone in Japan. The company had to launch relatively low-priced collections to boost sales. The firm had also been taking steps to open stores in other mid-size cities where the LV brand was not well known.
5 Louis Vuitton might be French, but Japan had become the land of Louis Vuitton lovers. Over the years, Japanese consumers had demonstrated fascination and passion for the iconic brand. What would be the key to Louis Vuitton’s continuing success in the Japanese market?