Every day there are more American companies attempting to expand their operations into Japan. These companies face a number of critical decisions such as which marketing strategies to use, selecting entry strategies, and numerous operation, financing, and management decisions. Many companies have tried to enter Japan's market and have failed. Two companies that have been extremely successful in Japan are Starbucks and McDonalds. Since both of these companies have entered Japan, each has grown significantly and are still expanding today.
Starbucks Coffee Japan was established in October 1995, as a joint venture between Sazaby Inc. and Starbucks Coffee International, the international portion of Starbucks Coffee Company. Starbucks believed that using a joint venture would allow them to better penetrate the Japanese market. The advantages of establishing a joint venture in Japan include greater access to local information and conditions, ease in identifying and hiring local personnel, and immediate access to customers. These advantages helped the organization grow and gain a competitive advantage. Since opening the first store in 1996 at Tokyo's premier shopping district, Starbucks has become a leading specialty coffee company in Japan. They averaged the opening of two new stores per week in 2001. They have approximately three hundred stores now open in Japan, and are forecasting the 500th store opening in 2004. .
A key element in Starbuck's success was that the company did not try to use the exact same marketing strategy as the one used in the U.S. Combining their know how with Sazaby's marketing to develop a new type of coffee store, they took into consideration the cultural and economic differences in Japan and addressed them. Starbucks focuses on satisfying each customer by tailoring their products to the specific tastes of the customer. Since entering the Japanese market, Starbucks has received recognition from top Japanese publications and business organizations for its world-class customer service.