Sunday, March 6, 2011

"The performance is inferior and the product is really useless"

Recently our regulatory affairs division just finished the long and arduous task of getting the license and permission for us to sell a new surgical device. This has been in the works for many years and has taken a lot of time and effort all over the place.

Generally the strict regulations in Japan almost always ensure a quite significant lag in the time it takes to market compared to the countries in Europe or the USA. Of course, it doesn't help that most European companies almost always first prioritize the core EU markets, secondly the US and thirdly "the rest of the world" and add to that the complex bureaucracy in Japan that is required for healthcare products and you easily end up with a lag of 5+ years from the time a product was launched in Europe until it can be launched in Japan...

In the past, I have heard quite a few stories on how products have gone out of manufacturing just by the time Japan has gotten ready to launch ending up with a lot of work resulting in nothing. So now, we've finally getting to the point that the launch of the product is getting relatively close and some of the more hands-on marketing preparation is getting ready to start and sales projections put in order. So I got in touch with the global marketing VP in Germany to get some help in start crafting the story and supporting materials that we will need. After being ignored for a month, I get a reply back with a technical comparison between the product in question and the "new-and-improved" version that was launched recently in Europe and some of the competitors with the conclusive punchline "the version that you are about to launch is inferior in all aspects to the offering of our competitors and if anyone would open up the machine and examine the specs it would be clear that the competition is far better, why don't you go for the new product instead?".

There are the type of things that can make a grown man cry in my business here in Japan, not only is the VP suggesting that we do something that would result in us having to start all over with the work (and take another 3-5 years and countless work hours) but also pissing all over the current product (which, by the way, is the opposite of what marketing is supposed to do).

Sometimes I think that the key to surviving working in business here in Japan is to have a short memory and little attachment to the business, otherwise it would be way too easy to be pissed off most of the time.

6 comments:

BiggerInJapan said...

oh man, I soooo fucking feel you!

I toast to you, one Salaryman to the other.

Chris said...

Japan is doomed.
The best days are behind her/she/heshe or whatever.

I thought that was an ET vibrator which was weird and then realized it's not and just thought I'm weird.

Anywayz...

L. said...

That photo....[shudder]....is the ugliest dildo I have ever seen...

"Phone home" indeed!

Eva said...

I heard about this serious lag in release of medical equipment and drugs in Japan, due to all the paperwork required for the permit. It was in NHK documentary after their evening news, but I guess it changed nothing. This system is so dumb...

aimlesswanderer said...

The joys of doing business in Japan! One wonders how worth while doing business there is then for companies like yours. With so much red tape, and therefore expenses, and with so many products not making it to market despite chewing up significant resources... you'd better sell an awful lot of whatever manages to make it through!

Another reason Japan is falling behind the rest of the world economically, slowly but surely?

Martin said...

Well, on the upside the equipment should be on sale in Europe. Perhaps you can make a bundle selling this old/new crap that Japan is stuck with the next few years.

What does ET´s finger light have to do with this topic?

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