Manga and the Pirates: Unlikely Allies for Strategic Growth

By Mayfield, Milton; Mayfield, Jackie et al. | SAM Advanced Management Journal, Summer 2000 | Go to article overview

Manga and the Pirates: Unlikely Allies for Strategic Growth


Mayfield, Milton, Mayfield, Jackie, Genestre, Alain, Marcu, Magda, SAM Advanced Management Journal


The Japanese comic book (manga) industry faces what many businesses might consider an enviable problem. Almost everyone in Japan buys manga on a regular basis. This high level of market saturation, however, leaves little room for growth in the domestic market (Ida, 1996; Pearson, 1997; Schodt, 1996), and lack of growth is generally a serious problem for any company. To overcome such stagnation, many manga companies are exploring creative strategies for new market development (Ida, 1996; Lent, 1995; Schodt, 1996). This case will detail one of the more creative of strategies, the transformation of copyright pirates into export allies.

The strategy holds great promise to improve the business environment for manga producers and former pirates (or privateers). This paper analyzes the business alliance by using Porter's (1980) five forces model of the competitive environment. Our contention is that the need to improve their competitive environment led such disparate groups to join together. Also, when viewed through the five forces framework, the case more broadly illustrates how companies can export intellectual goods and reshape their business environment.

We will more fully elaborate on this creative use of strategic alliances by presenting background information on Japan's manga industry, Asia's potential as a manga export market, and the piracy of Japan's manga on the Asia continent. Then, we will analyze the privateer alliance using Porter's five forces model (Porter, 1980), and conclude with further implications from our analysis.

Japan's Manga Industry

The Japanese manga industry is far different from the U.S. comic book industry. Manga are bought and widely read by all social strata. Industry experts estimate that 95%% of Japanese citizens read manga on a regular basis (Ono, 1989; Pepper; 1987; Schodt, (1996), and that manga account for approximately one-third of total periodical dollar sales (Ono, 1989; Pepper 1987; Schodt, 1996; Solo, 1989). Unlike the more insular U.S. comic book companies, most manga firms aggressively research and market their products, making extensive use of focus groups and reader surveys. Furthermore, these techniques give critical feedback in strategic development (Schodt, 1983; Schodt, 1996).

Equally important, the manga industry is much more diverse than its U.S. counterpart, both in product and distribution. For example, U.S. comic book companies largely focus on super hero publications targeted at teenage males. In comparison, the manga industry offers a wide variety of publication types for a demographically diverse readership. One is just as likely to see a 50-year-old business man reading a gangster manga as a 12-year-old school girl reading a manga on Japanese culture (Fujidea, 1997; Morikawa, 1997; Anonymous, 1995).

This broad consumer base has been carefully developed through manga companies' long range planning. Beginning in the 1960s, the industry carefully developed wide distribution points throughout Japan. Customers can buy manga from corner news dealers, local book stores, or from manga specialty stores (Solo, 1989). In conjunction with wide distribution, the companies also developed detailed market research and promotion processes. Largely due to these efforts, manga became accepted as a legitimate art and entertainment medium. This acceptance contrasts starkly with the U.S. market, where comic books are considered a specialty and collectible item with the resultant limited sales (Genestra, Mayfield, & Mayfield, 1997).

Manga companies' artistic vitality and aggressive growth strategies have contributed to the industry's robust health. However, the industry is now facing challenge of declining growth rates and increasing in competition among producers (Lent, 1995; Porter, 1980). In brief, the success of manga producers has also become their weakness. The industry's enormous market base has left little for expansion (Schodt, 1996). …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Manga and the Pirates: Unlikely Allies for Strategic Growth
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.