Leading menswear retail store Aoki opened its newest outlet in Ginza on May 28. On the first day of its grand opening the store offered incredible deals including a 50% markdown on all clothes and 945-yen super discount suits. Despite it being a weekday, at 9 o’clock in the morning, a crowd of 3,000 people, mostly men dressed in suits appearing to be company employees, made a long line in front of the Ginza store.
It appears there was something phony about the large-scale promotion, which was widely publicized on television. The incident was reported on TV for an entire week. Surely “Aoki Ginza Store” left a strong impression in the mind of viewers.
A long queue is clearly the most effective means of advertising. Foreign low-price retail outlets like H&M and the recent promotional effort (free distribution of 0.1 carat diamonds) by jewelry store Mauboussin, are good examples.
Aoki Holdings may have used the same method, but what really went on behind their "corporate effort" may have been something entirely different. The owner of a mid-sized company doing business with Aoki confided, “We sent about five male employees to the Ginza store acting as “customers” on the opening day because we were asked by Aoki’s affiliate companies. The request came in about a month ago, to have ‘as many male staff as possible’ to go there and ‘purchase something so that it would look legitimate.’ Aoki is one of our biggest clients. There was no way we could refuse.”
Indeed, it seemed rather strange that so many businessmen would be shopping on a Thursday morning.
The same business owner added sarcastically, “Initially we were considering dispatching one or two people. Then the individual in charge at Aoki referred to a specific company, a competitor of ours, which ostensibly was sending more than 10 of their employees. What could we do?”
While some company owners claimed they were willing to cooperate in view of the economic state, Shukan Post was able to identify multiple companies that conceded to this request from Aoki, which indicates that a large percentage of the men standing in line that day were merely posing as customers.
Aoki had suffered a major loss of 40% in net earnings compared to the same quarter of the previous year. Due to the decline in sales at their suburb outlets, the company is aiming to make up for the loss by expanding business in the inner city area. Which would explain why success at the flagship Ginza ship was a must.
In response to Shukan Post’s interview, Aoki stated that they had sent letters and flyers to their vendors and partners about the store, but denied that they had called out for anyone to stand in the queue.
Nonetheless, the Ginza shop appears to be attracting many customers since its opening. Their corporate effort may be paying off after all.© Japan Today