In 1983, the first Tsutaya opened its doors in Osaka. Conceived as a lifestyle store by Muneaki Masuda, Tsutaya began as a shop renting and selling books, videos, and music. Since then, it has become an all-encompassing Japanese pop culture platform. In 2011, the company behind the Tsutaya project, CCC, introduced an evolved form of the Tsutaya bookstore in Daikanyama. Based on information from the brand’s “T Point” membership program, the brand continues to suggest a new lifestyle concept, spanning from appliances to smartphones.
Welcome to the 37th issue of B.
In the four years since I started my own business, I have thought a great deal about the values a company should have. B was one of the products made to find an answer to that question. Most of the brands B has covered could not be explained without mentioning the lifestyles of their customers. This is because they have established themselves by developing a way of life they wanted to introduce to the world, rather than to utilize marketing techniques. Today, we may be paying more for the special experiences we want to take part in than we do on merely buying stuff to own. This is similar to how we might spend more time and money on dessert and drinks than we do on a meal.
The way I come to understand a new city is by browsing its select shops and tiny specialty stores. When shopping online, we look for the lowest prices, weighing the quality and features of one product against another. There is an incomparable experience, however, that comes with shopping offline in select shops or small-scale specialty stores where the products have been arranged with care. This is why the economy of “ownership” will slowly evolve into an economy of “experience.” And the driving force behind the economy of experience will not be capital, but rather opinions about lifestyles.
The brand we are introducing in this issue is Tsutaya, a renowned Japanese bookstore chain. Tsutaya offers a chance to reenvision what an offline bookstore should be in an era of online shopping and free, same-day delivery. Tsutaya does not think of itself as just a bookstore. It is a future-oriented enterprise producing profits by planning and presenting lifestyles in all areas of the cultural space and actively using a customer database. Tsutaya insists that its lifestyle suggestions preserve the cultural industry of Japan. This mission is similar to something a governmental organization might do using taxes or something a large corporation might do as part of a social responsibility project, but Tsutaya carries it out while still making a profit.
Covering Tsutaya, I became even more convinced that the spaces we live in and the lifestyle suggested by the things we fill those spaces with possess a meaning extending across ages. In his interview with us, Tsutaya’s CEO, Muneaki Masuda, used the expression “customer-oriented” several times. This might sound cliché, but I think it is a genuine product of deep reflection on the life he wants to live.
I would like to encourage you to visit the Daikanyama T-site. This place, which combines book and music shops, cafes, and convenience stores, might remind you of other places in foreign countries. Nevertheless, you will be sure to think that it is the sort of place you would go every day if it were in your neighborhood. The pleasure of being surrounded by books and music, with drinks, food, and occasional shared glances with strangers in a fine cafe—experiences like this are worth driving long distances or purchasing a flight to enjoy. Today, I happily indulge in the fantasy of being enveloped by such a place.