Shopping in Japan is a one of a kind experience. Mostly because they have all the brands you'd ever want with a Japanese twist via limited editions. Seriously, this is a country where even the candy has limited editions by city.
The question then becomes how do you sustain a brand in an environment like this? In theory, this should make it more difficult to sustain a brand as the variants make it more difficult to maintain a unified brand front. Everything you are taught in branding and marketing is to make a consistent experience to ensure consumer comfort. Disruption in the brand equals discomfort supposedly, but I'd actually argue that it can as in the cases of the Japanese limited editions delight consumers.
This is a great example of how the limited edition is handled in Japan. This is Francfranc for Disney and as you can see here they developed some products around the 7 dwarfs. Now I'm a bit old for Disney paraphernalia, but these candles and candle holders are something I could easily see my self purchasing. Those bath salts to the left would also make a great gift for my more serious friends who are still kids at heart.
The trick about it is that it requires a better understanding of the brand than just the mass production and execution of key values. Japan has everything from Starbucks to Coldstone to Prada to Chanel and yet it is through the limited editions that they are able to claim the brands for themselves. And you know what that does? Generate more cash overall for the brands. This is because the Japanese feel they are being catered to and someone like me for instance is delighted by the fact that they can get a Matcha Latte at Starbucks.
In a time where the recession is pushing consumers out of the stores, marketers might want to take note here of the way the Japanese handle the limited editions. Simply slapping Lanvin's name on H&M gear is really not the way to go. Well in my opinion anyway, because granted I did go to H&M to see the collection but it was more for rubbernecking then purchasing. That hardly happens with the limited editions here, because you know what? They actually take the time to think of how the consumer will respond to the product beyond the brand association. It also eliminates masstige as the higher price points are balanced with extremely limited supply. Even moreso than those of the H&M collaborations. This results in making the overall shopping expierence more dynamic, interactive, and a heck of a lot more exciting.