26 October 2021 Information

The Porter Prize Winners of 2021

The Porter Prize Organizing Committee announced today the winners of the Porter Prize 2021.

(In no particular order)
Cainz Corporation

Cainz, which manages Cainz home improvement centers, has its headquarters in Saitama Prefecture, just north of Tokyo. The company has developed its operations primarily in regional cities rather than in Japan's metropolitan areas. By about the year 2000, the market for home improvement centers had become saturated. Within the industry, there were two main trends: (1) consolidations aimed at leveraging economies of scale; and (2) reductions in the number of product categories to improve operational efficiencies. Cainz did not pursue either option. Rather than resorting to corporate acquisitions, Cainz employed a more organic approach, which has enabled it to maintain high profitability while continuously achieving steady growth. Cainz's reasonably priced household goods for everyday use were achieved through low-cost operations, made possible by an efficient logistics system. It should be noted that the company offers more than just affordable products. By leveraging its development capabilities, Cainz has created tastefully designed quality products that are user-friendly and meet customers' needs. By incorporating themes like "Rakukaji Kitchen" and "Rakukaji Laundry" into both product development and store development, the company has succeeded in raising the added value of its retail spaces in recent years. (The expression "Rakukaji" means "making housework easy.") Furthermore, Cainz has made full use of digital technologies to increase the appeal of its brick-and-mortar stores. Specifically, the company: (1) introduced an inventory search service to help customers and staff find merchandise in stores that carry over 100,000 items; (2) made it easier for customers to see whether a store carries inventory for a specific product; and (3) started taking online reservations for a variety of services.


JINS Holdings directly manages a retail store chain that sells eyewear. JINS, which annually sells about 6 million pairs of eyeglasses, has achieved the top sales volume among eyeglass retailers in Japan, according to company data. Contrary to the industry's varying price scale, which takes into account the prescription and lens thickness, JINS has limited the prices of its eyeglasses to the three price points of US$50, $80, or $120 in Japan. (There is, however, an additional charge for bifocals and other kinds of "optional lenses.") In Japan, frames and lenses as a set start from 5,500 yen, including tax (US$48.00). Not only is the price low, the customer can receive the eyeglasses within as little as 30 minutes of making the purchase. JINS attributes its growth to innovations made to address customers' dissatisfactions with the usual eyeglass purchasing process. The company has aggressively incorporated advanced digital technology like the JINS app, which retains eyeglass prescription data. Anyone can now virtually try on glasses, and check the store's inventory online. Customers can even order eyeglasses and pay for them online through an e-Commerce site. So, they have a choice of making their purchase online or offline. Either way, they can enjoy seamless customer service. JINS is also expanding eyeglass-related operations to provide added value that falls outside the scope of vision correction, such as blue light blocking lenses and products like JINS MEME eyeglasses. This product features a sensing function for eye gaze tracking and the measurement of blink rate patterns. Such data allows wearers to monitor their concentration levels. In addition, a gyroscope sensor checks the wearer's posture while seated, and sends notifications of bad posture to the user's smartphone. Overseas operations, focused mainly on Taiwan and China, account for approximately 18% of total sales.

Kurashicom Inc.

Kurashicom sells tableware, interior goods, women's apparel, and cosmetics through its online store, "Hokuoh, Kurashi no Douguten," (lit. "A store that sells Nordic lifestyle goods). The company's name emphasizes Kurashicom's commitment to lifestyle creation (in this case, a Nordic lifestyle). In Japanese, "kurashi" means "living," and the word "kurashi-kata" means "lifestyle." The company's other business activities include providing brand solutions to companies that market national brands. Kurashicom distinguishes itself from other companies by promoting a particular worldview through: (1) a website designed with the increasingly popular blog format, incorporating numerous photos, accompanying text, and embedded videos; and (2) other forms of online communications, like an online journal. The company has succeeded in building long-term relationships with customers that resonate with this worldview. Kurashicom has achieved profitability because of an ability to develop merchandise that reinforces this worldview (i.e., the appeal of a Nordic lifestyle). This worldview is also reflected in the company's mission, "Let's create a Lifestyle that Fits." Kurashicom defines "a Lifestyle that Fits" as: "The satisfaction that comes from knowing that your lifestyle reflects who you really are." The company's online communications reach more than 20 million potential customers each year, mainly women in their 20s, 30s, and 40s. This is equivalent to nearly half of Japan's adult female population.