Case study

UKTI helps BCS-Autobox research and establish a presence in Japan

BCS-Autobox used UKTI’s Export Marketing Research Scheme (EMRS) to understand the dynamics of the Japanese market and develop a successful market strategy.

Japan street sign

BCS-Autobox provides machines for making cardboard boxes and cartons, with export sales now accounting for 80% of their turnover.

Despite their success, the company had been unable to secure business in Japan. It was only when Managing Director Barry Tabor was contacted by Anton Rudgalvis, an International Trade Adviser working for UKTI, that their strategy began to take shape. Anton suggested that Barry use the EMRS, which provides professional advice to help businesses understand the dynamics of a potential overseas market before creating a market entry strategy.

Anton arranged for Barry to meet EMRS research adviser Alice Mamier. Alice helped Barry identify the decisons he’d need to make for a Japan launch strategy, and the people he should meet in Japan to find the relevant information. Barry comments:

It was straightforward. We very quickly realised that we’d need to gain a good understanding of the structure of the market, both within big cities and rural areas, to work our best route to market and the sort of partner we’d need. It was also apparent that we’d need to make sure our offering was relevant to the Japanese, and work out whether we need to change the machines in any way

In December 2010, Barry travelled to Japan with an itinerary of meetings , both within the Tokyo area and outside. This included 4 different box manufacturers, 3 potential agents and industry experts at the British Embassy in Tokyo.

“The whole research trip was so useful. Japan is such a unique culture that you really have to go there to understand why people act the way they do, “ says Barry.

Understanding the high levels of aftersales service expected in Japan helped Barry to specify, and subsequently to choose, an appropriate representative for the market.

The research also enabled BCS-Autobox to choose an appropriate pricepoint, which was different to their original assumptions.

Barry, who had initially declared himself “cynical of any form of government advice” comments:

It turned out my earlier preconception was a total misconception. The Export Marketing Research Scheme was a very positive experience - the support was brilliant, the people were very helpful and we now have the basis for a very strong business in Japan, a market we’d been struggling to enter for years

Published 8 May 2014