Yo quiero Taco Bell. In Japan? - PIPELINE Japan
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Yo quiero Taco Bell. In Japan?

It’s no surprise that Japan is a country with a seemingly endless supply of restaurants, food outlets and cuisines. A culture so passionate about the display, quality, and taste of great cuisine is now more accessible to new delights of its surrounding countries and cultures. There’s always something delicious and interesting to enjoy here.

However, until very recently, it was unlikely that you’d be able to quell your desire for something like Taco Bell.

The first attempt of Taco Bell in Japan

Taco Bell first arrived in Japan in the 80`s but only survived for a short period of time. The first time the popular chain became available for the Japanese, it didn’t go as well as planned. With hardly any interest, the chain retracted its branch and waited another thirty years before trying again.  So what happened?

It is the right time to strike back

Now, with the help of the Internet and more exposure to the Western culture, the Japanese market has become a more worthwhile venture. It’s a lot easier now to generate interest in a product or service and to hype it up before it even hits the market. This gives both established businesses and startups a chance to generate some good data points even before they actually arrive to the country.

After a hiatus of so many years, they are now a regular part of the Shibuya landscape equipped with a brand new branch and with a roaring launch. Not only did people visit the branch they queued up, before opening times, and for literally hours to be the first ones in to try the new or familiar cuisine available to them.

Taco Bell has understood that it needs to adapt to the Japanese market

As well as offering them something American Tex-mex-ish, Taco Bell made slight changes to make it more welcoming in Japan, adjusting their usual menu to include a Taco Rice Bowl, Fajita Burrito, and a Shrimp & Avocado Burrito. They also have interesting sides like the Cheesy Fries making it unique to Japan and lets not forget about the Taco Bell Rap video that shows you how to get to their location in Shibuya, Tokyo.

It wasn’t only the locals that joined the queue to be in the store though, tourists even joined the line to get their taste and people that have a Taco Bell back in their home country visited to see what differences there were and what they were being offered in this new location. Even top-named celebrity, Katy Perry, was found waiting in line for just over an hour to get a fix of fast food from the new Japan branch despite being able to find the same product around every major corner back in her home country.

Japan has always been a difficult market for many companies to penetrate and the closing of Taco Bell in the 80’s is a prime example. With the accessibility to global communication and the changing landscape of the local Japanese market, for all new businesses, now is a very exciting time to be able to open your business and explore the potential in the Japan market.


Photo: © Masayuki Kawagishi / Flickr

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