Talking about Goodio and chocolate at Matsuya department store.
In my childhood I was one of them, ninjas, just like every other kid in our neighbourhood. Since then I have always had some sort of connection to Japan, even though I hadn’t been there - until now.
In the beginning of December my long-time dream came true and I found myself in Tokyo. I wasn’t invited there because of my ninja skills, but to promote Goodio chocolate and to meet our partners, retailers and media.
My trip was probably quite ordinary in Japanese standards but for me, a “gaijin”, it was the most inspiring experience! I genuinely loved every meeting I had in Japan, no matter if it was arranged or incidental. Once you get a connection with a Japanese, they just open up so beautifully. You don’t see it, you experience it. People were so kind and humble. They were fully present and same time very childlike in a best possible way. At times our words were limited but we still had a mutual understanding, a connection.
Before the talk: Our showcase packed with the goods. After the talk: A pretty empty shelf.
A good example of the Japanese kindness is when I found myself lost and asked direction from a young man. Instead of just telling me the right direction he wanted to show the way himself. It was 15 minutes random rendezvous. We talked about sauna, heavy metal music, Finnish culture, work and happiness. When we reached the pinpoint, it was time to say goodbye and I gave him chocolate. Suddenly the man hugged me and before I knew it the hug was over. I was so surprised by the lovely gesture that I couldn’t give a wholehearted hug and felt bad about that afterwards. I decided that from now on I will hug like a sumo wrestler in love.
Before I get too poetic and start communicating in haiku form, lets jump into business.
Japan is a really interesting market with huge potential and Finland is really liked there. The animation series Moomin did a big favor to us a long time ago and especially the older generation in Japan is interested in Finland because of this popular show. In addition, Finnish nature, design and quality are well known and valued in Japan which is a great advantage for Goodio.
Just heard about a really awesome big project. Moomin park and Metsä village will be opened nearby Tokyo next year. Yay!
Japanese chocolate culture differs quite a lot from ours, for example most of the chocolate is bought prior to Valentine’s Day and packaging has a huge role when deciding what to buy. Even though the chocolate season in Japan is quite short, the consumption is growing steadily. Especially premium chocolate is in a high demand and I was really happy to find out that bean to bar chocolates seem to be trending :)
On a personal note, I’m really looking forward to learning more about Japan and making Japanese friends. Business-wise, Japanese people are very selective when it comes to chocolate but I am ready to take the challenge. With our values, attention to detail, exotic flavors and design, I am positive there will be many more Japanese adventures waiting for us and it’s all good!
P.s. We will be in Japan at Foodex in the beginning March! Hope to see you there:)