World Cup goods
Among the official World Cup goods being sold is a set that includes a cap designed like a samurai hairdo, above, and a happi coat, below. (Sunworld International Co., Ltd.)

Businesses Hope to Cash In on World Cup
April 2, 2002

The 2002 FIFA World Cup will be jointly hosted by Japan and South Korea, and excitement is building as the big event approaches. The tournament, which will be held from May 31 to June 30, is expected to boost Japan's economy by ¥2 trillion ($15 billion at ¥130 to the dollar), and an increasing number of businesses are aiming to cash in on the special demand created by the sporting event.

Consumers Hope to Win Free Tickets
One strategy that many companies are following is that of giving away World Cup tickets. Toshiba Corp. conducted a campaign in which consumers who purchased a Toshiba notebook computer or other selected products before March 31 were entered in a drawing in which some 2,300 World Cup tickets will be given away. And Victor Company of Japan plans to distribute 1,000 tickets to customers who buy at least ¥10,000 ($76.92) worth of Victor products by April 10. Even lotteries are getting into the action by offering World Cup tickets as a special prize. Green Jumbo, a lottery that went on sale on February 18 and offers a grand prize of ¥200 million ($1.5 million), will give away 400 World Cup tickets - 40 pairs to the final and 160 pairs to other games including Japan's matches against Belgium, Russia, and Tunisia.

The broadcast world is also excited about the tournament. Satellite broadcaster SKY Perfect Communications has obtained the rights to show all 64 games and has seen its number of subscribers increase. New subscribers in February were up sharply over a year ago.

Major electronics retailers are strengthening their efforts to promote sales through tie-ins with companies that are sponsoring the World Cup. It is believed that many consumers will want to purchase new TV sets to watch the matches. While sales were a bit flat before the Winter Olympics recently held in Salt Lake City, retailers are hoping for huge sales this time and are selling home-theater systems that contain flat-screen TVs and stereo systems at a single price.

The World Cup is also a grand stage for the makers of sporting goods. All across the world, manufacturers are trying to bank on the popularity of famous athletes to develop and sell their own brands of shoes. Mizuno Corp., a major Japanese maker of sporting goods, has signed exclusive contracts with six famous soccer players, both Japanese and foreigners, including Brazil's Rivaldo and Japan's own Atsushi Yanagisawa. The company has decided on which shoes to present to which athlete, and its preparations for the World Cup are said to be complete.

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Matches will be held at 10 locations throughout Japan, and many tourists, both Japanese and foreign, are expected at the different venues. Some 383,000 foreign tourists will come to Japan, most of whom have paid for their lodging and transportation in the form of package tours, so their expenditures are fixed to some degree. Local businesses, though, are hoping for an increase in demand for food, drinks, and souvenirs.

In order to sell official World Cup goods, a license must be obtained from FIFA to use the World Cup logo and mark, and over 100 companies had already forged such agreements with the governing soccer body as of the end of 2001. The official goods that seem likely to be most popular are reasonably priced everyday products that have a Japanese flavor to them. One example is a set that includes a happi (a type of robe traditionally worn by shopkeepers and festival-goers) printed with kanji (Chinese characters) and a cap that looks like the topknots typical of samurai. Other products include umbrellas, T-shirts, and watches emblazoned with the World Cup emblem or mascot. Another product attracting attention is a souvenir set of pins that includes the flags of the seven nations that have won the tournament in the past, such as Brazil and Germany. As only 2,002 individually numbered sets will be sold, this product will likely be hot.

Local areas in which the matches will be held are also hoping that visitors will take a liking to their unique products. Nine brewers will sell their own officially licensed brands of World Cup sake. While FIFA has laid down some rather stringent rules for sake - a license is granted to only one company in each prefecture where matches are being held, and sales are only allowed inside that prefecture - brewers have expressed the hope that the World Cup may provide an opportunity to increase the ranks of sake aficionados around the world.

Copyright (c) 2002 Japan Information Network. Edited by Japan Echo Inc. based on domestic Japanese news sources. Articles presented here are offered for reference purposes and do not necessarily represent the policy or views of the Japanese Government.

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