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Marketing Management Case Study

Case Title:

Wal-Mart’s Foray into Japan: Heading Towards Success or Hara-kiri?

Publication Month and Year :  July 2009

Authors: Kalyani Vemuri, T Phani Madhav

Industry: Retailing


Case Code: MM0031

Teaching Note:Available

Structured Assignment:Available


For MNC (Multinational Corporation) retailers, the Japanese retailing market is considered to be one of the toughest to enter. In 2002, when Wal-Mart announced that it was buying a stake in Seiyu, a domestic retailer, as a first step to enter Japan, there was widespread scepticism among analysts. Since its entry, Wal-Mart has been doing all it can to understand and woo the Japanese consumers into Seiyu stores, where it is implementing its own standard systems and processes. Wal-Mart’s challenges include dealing with Japan’s traditional multi-tier distribution system, understanding the trends in Japanese buying habits and creating the right product assortment. It also faces competition from domestic players like Aeon and Ito-Yokado and international players like Carrefour.

Pedagogical Objective:

  • To discuss the critical success factors in the Japanese retail industry
  • To discuss the strategies adopted by Wal-Mart in Japan
  • To discuss the possible future scenarios in the retailing industry of Japan.

Keywords : Wal-Mart; Japanese retail industry; Market Entry Strategies Case Study; Trends in Japanese retailing; Foreign retailers in Japan; Distribution in Japan; Wal-Mart's international business; Wal-Mart's competitors in Japan; Multi-tier distribution system; Changing channel arrangement; Japanese buying behavior; Consumer experience; Supplier-retailer relationship, Marketing Management; Marketing Mix; Market Segmentation; Product Life Cycle; New Product Development; Consumer Behavior; Marketing Case Studies; MBA; Marketing Course for MBA Marketing Course Case Map; Course Case Map; Case Map


  • Wal-Mart's Japanese Challenge
  • Wal-Mart's Overseas Operations
  • Entry into Japan
  • The First Store

  • Critical Factors
  • Domestic Players
  • Foreign Competitors

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