Making Japanese tea a big business: The transformation of ITO EN since the 1960s
Keywords:, traditional industry, declining industry, Japanese tea industry, product development, firm sustainability
Although traditional industries are commonly dominated by numerous SMEs focused on their respective domestic markets, the Japanese tea industry experienced the emergence and rapid growth of large enterprises in the 1990s. This article analyzes the strategy that enabled such a change, focusing on the most important Japanese tea producer, ITO EN, which developed bottled green tea in 1985. Based on an approach of business history and industry studies, the article argues that the shift in the 1990s was made possible by the transformation of the true nature of the tea industry in going from a commodity business to a branded consumer-goods business.
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