About Yuko Suzuki

Yuko Suzuki is the founder and president of Musubi, a food and beverage marketing company based in Osaka, Japan. In Japan, Ms.Suzuki works with small to mid‐size food producers, farmers and local governments to promote and create new markets for their products both domestically and internationally. Her emphasis is on artisan and traditional production and sustainable agriculture. In addition, Ms. Suzuki consults with foreign food‐related companies seeking to enter the Japanese market.

Prior to founding her company in 2006, Ms. Suzuki worked as a marketer for a multinational corporation [Ericsson, Wildcard, JETRO], which gave her a foundation in communicating across cultures. She has also studied and lived in the United States for several years.

CASE STUDIES

Musubi finds the best approach to connect food producers and markets.

Case1 – Umami project

Creating an export market for a long‐established kombu company

Kombu, type of umami-rich kelp, is a fundamental ingredient in Japanese cuisine, but its use is unfamiliar abroad. In an ongoing project, Musubi has created a strategy for Japan’s premiere kombu dealer to re-position their products as “umami” seasonings, rather than try to market kombu itself internationally. The challenge has been to define “umami” and its use in non-Japanese cooking. Working with creative partners in New York, Musubi developed an original concept for this company’s umami products, and created branding, naming, packaging and positioning to approach the overseas market. As a result, the company’s products are now being exported to the U.S., Europe and Asia. This new umami positioning has also created a new domestic distribution channel for the company, and garnered considerable Japanese media attention.

① Original products
② New concept, new product
③ Branding, naming, packaging and positioning to approach overseas market as “umami spray”
④ Another umami product

Case2 – Farm products

Promoting local agricultural and artisan food products in Japan.

For five years, Musubi advised a Japanese prefecture (the equivalent of a state) to promote their local agricultural and artisan food products. Musubi developed a special store in a major Japanese city as a hub to market these products, creating branding, positioning and merchandising. Musubi’s unique approach targeted both consumers and food professionals (restaurants and retailers), and was highly successful not only in increasing awareness and visibility of the products, but also of the region of origin. As a result of these efforts, Musubi was able to help their government client revitalize the business efforts of traditional farms and producers in their region, and create a sustainable model for future growth.

Case3 – Highway shop

Reimagining a highway rest stop

In a three-year project, Musubi transformed a highway rest stop in central Japan from an
anonymous facility to a destination featuring artisan and agricultural products and regional cooking. From its first year of operations, this rest stop recorded the highest sales of all such facilities in that part of Japan. Musubi developed a unique physical location by directing the renovation of the facility. Once the rest stop was revamped, it created and merchandized unique products from across Japan, as well as local artisan and agricultural products. Musubi worked closely with its client to win approval and overcome institutional resistance from the government agencies involved in this project. The rest stop now serves as a model facility for that part of Japan and even outside that area.

Contact Musubi

Email: yuko@o‐musubi.net
Tel: +81 80‐5128‐8752

Office: 1‐5‐13, Yamamoto Bldg. #202, Nishi‐ku, Osaka,JAPAN

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