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More companies pressuring employees to buy their products

20 Comments

Early in this recession-blighted year, says Weekly Playboy (Apr 6), 10,000-odd executives of electronic appliance maker Panasonic received an official notice from headquarters asking them -- or was it an order? -- to purchase at least 100,000 yen worth of company products by July. (For top executives, the amount indicated was 200,000 yen.)

At Fujitsu, it was much the same story -- an email from the president went out to 100,000 employees “appealing” to them to purchase company products. Ditto, more or less, for NEC. Neither specified target amounts, but at a Sanyo Group subsidiary the “request” was bureaucratically precise: department heads were asked to spend at least 300,000 yen, section heads at least 200,000 yen. Rank and file employees also received notices urging them to do their part, without figures being mentioned.

Such is the dismal state of Japan’s once-proud electronics giants. Battered by slumping exports and stagnant domestic demand, they feel compelled to panhandle from their own employees -- with this difference: panhandlers generally, if not always graciously, take no for an answer. Your employer may not.

In a sense, Weekly Playboy observes, it’s an old story. In businesses with strict sales quotas -- insurance, for example -- the tacit understanding has always been that sales people falling short would make good the difference out of their own pockets. The manufacturing industry brought similar pressure to bear on its sales staff -- what you failed to sell, you bought. But the spread of the practice to all sectors of the economy. and to all employees within a given company, is “very exceptional,” says the magazine.

There is nothing in these notices and “requests” that implicitly make compliance compulsory. On the other hand, “we are asked to present the receipts from our purchases,” Weekly Playboy hears from an employee of a mid-size electronic maker. “It could come up in our next performance assessment. When you consider that the ongoing recession might lead to layoffs down the road, it just doesn’t do not to go along. Some people even make a show of buying more than their colleagues."

A certain “Mr Yasuda,” 35, is by no means so gung-ho; all the same, he ended up owning no fewer than seven liquid-crystal TV sets.

He works for a mid-size panel maker. “If liquid-crystal TVs don’t sell,” he says, “it’s not just our company that’ll go belly-up, it’s the whole town. So what can you do? In January, we started hearing rumors of domestic factories shutting down, so the company started a campaign, under the slogan ‘Protect the company and the factories,’ to get employees buying.”

No sooner had Yasuda dutifully ordered a set than the campaign escalated. Appeals to “company spirit” were followed by pleas to “protect domestic manufacturing.” Next came a drive to revive sagging company stock prices. Then the local neighborhood association kicked in with a plea to keep the local economy afloat.

“You had the feeling that if you didn’t buy you’d be ostracized,” explains Yasuda. He bought and bought. What can be worse than ostracism?

“I figured I’d unload the merchandize on Internet auctions,” he tells Weekly Playboy. Good idea, bad timing. “My colleagues got in ahead of me. The market was already saturated. Bidding started at 1 yen. That,” he says, “is when the tears came…”

© Japan Today

©2021 GPlusMedia Inc.

20 Comments
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The problem in the world economy is there is too much supply and not enough demand. People were living beyond their means, and now they're living below so they can actually have some money left to retire on. That's where this plan will fail, there's a mountain of inventory and not enough employees to consume but a small fraction of them. But no harm in asking, just don't get your hopes up.

The only solution - and it's dawning on more and more companies - is to cut production. Stop making more than the world can consume, and you'll be profitable again.

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So who says BUY JAPANESE isn't alive and well. It's why they are going to live another day to clean their competitor's clocks.

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I think the idea makes sense. The employee gets a good product (hopefully), and helps his or her company by doing so. If it were my company, I would be proud of my employees if they did this. If such large companies do go under, the effects on their employees and the company's suppliers is huge. So a helpful cash injection from, say, 20,000 employees spending 200,000 yen is big bickies (4 billion yen actually). In the end the money will come back to the employees in the form of annual bonuses that may not have been paid if they hadn't bought their own company's items...

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I realy don't need a huge Lcd panel tester in my living room.

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What if you work for a company manufacturing adult incontinence products?

Then that company would surely be taking the piss.

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Ironically, the company who owns the media outlet where this story appeared (Playboy Weekly) has absolutely no need to pressure its employees to purchase its products.

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What if you work for a company manufacturing adult incontinence products?

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The people and workers should be left to make their own choices in a democratic liberal country like Japan.... whoops, what on earth was i thinking. Democratic liberal country, pfft!!

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this is a form of indentured servitude and should be against the law. You are not owned by your company, no matter what your company says, I don't care what the reason is. This is why laws are statutes.

If this is widespread then the economic situation in Japan is 10x worse than reported.

Go green, build passive solar heating systems, go geothermal and get off kerosene. Lots of homes and businesses to convert, lot to do if you take a moment to look around instead of playing games with your depression.

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This also happens with car companies, but then it is borderline to fraud, e.g. manipulation of car registration statistics. I think Toyota once was warned to stop this practice.

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Not that I want to take advantage of these folks, but anyone got an idea of some auction sites that might host these goodies?

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an email from the president went out to 100,000 employees “appealing” to them to purchase company products.

Is that considered SPAM? The president is spamming employees. Wow, that's desperate.

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Can I say, "HELL NO"?

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so what's better, this or cutting salaries and/or firing staff?

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This is not new. My brother in law works for fuji xerox and they are not allowed to buy competitors products - even if they are not competing in that market place. It's crazy! He is very tech savvy and why would he want to buy an inferior product?

He's very loyal though!

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How long until Chinese companies sitting on war chests of money come knocking to buy a Japanese brand?

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Use the old British way to deal with it. All go on strike, blockade the gates. Any scabs are battered and made pariahs 9in the community. Workers need to tell the top brass where to go, and start doing it now!!!

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Maybe just me but, the old adage of 'if you make a quality product, people will buy it' seems to have vanished for the electonics giants. For a while Sony had the market sewn up and I included bought a 32" TV w/DVD player and the surround sound system some 9yrs ago. Nowadays, I wouldn't touch anything made by Sony. GO figure why!!!

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I agree they should buy and then sell on auction site, i may buy some of these items :)

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Surely the amount of purchasing required by top executives should proportionately match their salaries - they should be expected to buy at least 10 times as much s ordinary workers as they are paid at least 10 times more.

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