30 November 2023 Information

Porter Prize Winners 2023

Porter Prize Winners 2023 (in Japanese alphabetical order)

IRIS OHYAMA Inc.(Planning, manufacturing, and sales of housewares)

JINUSHI Co., Ltd. (Provides tenants with long-term fixed-term land lease agreements)

BizReach, Inc. (A recruiting platform in Japan)

Unicharm Corporation(Manufactures disposal diapers, feminine hygiene products, wet wipes)


IRIS Ohyama Inc. is a manufacturer and wholesaler of housewares. The company has developed its own business model, known as the "Maker-Vendor System." IRIS Ohyama manufactures an assortment of distinctive items while simultaneously undertaking the wholesaling of externally produced merchandise. The company serves as a vendor for these outside producers. IRIS Ohyama handles a wide range of products and employs a variety of retail channels. The company sells 25,000 items, which include home appliances, home storage goods and interior items, as well as pet products, healthcare products, and food items. These products are distributed through such channels as Home Centers (shopping complexes), retail chains that sell consumer appliances, and branded ecommerce businesses. The wide array of products enables the company to pursue diverse opportunities through the leveraging of its wholesaling function. To further elaborate, the wholesaling function involves the distribution and delivery of merchandise and the provision of sales support to the retailer's staff working on the sales floor. IRIS Ohyama's decision to include the wholesaling function within the scope of its business operations is what has given the company a competitive advantage as a manufacturer. Moreover, wholesaling has enabled the company to cultivate relationships directly with retailers. IRIS Ohyama strengthens its relationship with retailers by providing a curated lineup of distinctive products.

The strength of the "Maker-Vendor" business model is underpinned by the company's competencies in product development, manufacturing, and distribution (i.e., logistics capabilities). These competencies have been configured within IRIS Ohyama's corporate structure to meet specific requirements. IRIS Ohyama's product development policy is "Simple, Reasonable, and Good Quality." This business approach, known as the "SRG Development Strategy," enables IRIS Ohyama not only to provide retailers with unique products, but also to deliver those products at prices that are lower than comparable items sold by the company's competitors. To ensure the success of its product development strategy, the company has introduced the business practice of regularly conducting an internal review of new product pitches. These new product pitches are made at the weekly "New Product Development Meeting." This business practice, which accelerates the development and launch of new products, makes it possible for IRIS Ohyama to introduce about 1,000 novel items each year.


In Japanese, "jinushi" means landowner. JINUSHI Co., Ltd. is Japan's private REIT specializing in fixed-term land leasing. The company invests exclusively in plots of land, utilizing fixed-term commercial land leasing rights. It then sells the leased land to investors as a real estate financial product. The leasing arrangement provides the investors, as landowners, a source of predominantly stable long-term profits. JINUSHI solicits tenants that will use the leased land for commercial development. When the term of the land lease agreement expires, the land is returned to the landowner as a vacant lot.

JINUSHI recognized the potential of vacant plots that would normally be overlooked by investors. The company assumes long-term ownership of such vacant plots. JINUSHI became a "manufacturer" of financial products by (1) targeting overlooked vacant plots; and (2) turning such plots into financial products. First, JINUSHI procures plots of land. (The company's standard practice is to procure the land only.) Next, the company signs long-term fixed-term lease agreements with its tenants for 20 years or longer (but under 50 years). Then, JINUSHI collects fixed rent from those tenants.

Building owners are not required to purchase the land. Moreover, JINUSHI takes over the land for the agreed-upon long-term period, allowing the building owner the security of an extended commitment from the landowner.

JINUSHI's profits are determined by the amount of land rent it collects from its tenants. Honoring its commitment to its tenants, JINUSHI would not seek to profit from the sale of land if property values were to rise.

Normally, in the development of real estate properties with buildings and other structures, the property developer would incur additional costs due to building renovations and maintenance work necessitated by safety considerations. Under JINUSHI's business model, however, such additional costs are kept to a minimum. Also, JINUSHI has successfully minimized its exposure to the risk of fluctuations in land rent. In short, the distinctive features of JINUSHI's business are: (1) a steady stream of fixed income; (2) low costs; and (3) low risk.

JINUSHI turns its investment in land into a financial product, the "JINUSHI REIT." The JINUSHI REIT is sold to institutional investors in the private REIT market. The company's JINUSHI REIT is an attractive option for institutional investors seeking to create a more diversified portfolio.

BizReach, Inc.

BizReach, Inc. operates the job search website BizReach. Conventional recruiting sites tended to focus on part-time jobs. These job sites were also used by individuals who were no longer considered "new grads," because they were still looking for full-time employment in a company two or three years after graduating from school. People who were already employed and wanted to change jobs relied primarily on employment agencies.

In 2009, BizReach launched its BizReach career networking platform in the recruitment market, offering a service that specializes in the placement of mid-career professionals. The company's business model involves a membership system. The main requirement for membership is an annual salary of at least 10 million yen. BizReach shares its membership list with client companies. The companies then approach members directly to scout for talented individuals. (BizReach's recruiting service is also used by headhunters.)

The BizReach service enables job seekers to connect with prospective employers without having to rely on an employment agency, which was the standard practice in the industry. For companies, the ability to directly scout their own candidates resulted in a significant reduction in their recruiting-related costs. Moreover, the actual recruiting process could be completed within a shortened timeframe. However, companies must have the capability to navigate the recruiting process. Especially for companies in which the Human Resource (HR) Department handles all recruiting activities, employees working in positions on the front line, in the field, will often lack the required recruiting-related know-how. BizReach helps companies enhance their recruiting capabilities by providing various kinds of support. This support includes recruiting know-how and guidance about how to interview candidates. BizReach's recruiting service is used by foreign companies, leading Japanese companies, and venture businesses. Small and medium-sized businesses, as well as local businesses operating outside Japan's major cities have started using the company's recruiting service.

By registering for membership, individuals can be scouted by companies operating in unexpected industries that have a need for their skills. These individuals will also come to realize their own value in the market for mid-career professionals.

Unicharm Corporation

Unicharm Corp. operates in narrowly focused business domains centered on nonwoven fabric and absorbent material processing and molding techniques. Its business segments include wellness care, pet care, baby care, and feminine hygiene goods. Applications for the company's nonwoven fabric and absorbent material processing and molding techniques include disposal diapers for infants and seniors, and pet supplies like "cleanup sheets." (As a result of synergies with pet care, pet food is included in this business domain.)

Another noteworthy feature of Unicharm's strategy is that its businesses are all aligned with the company's Vision, "Nola & Dola" (which is the acronym for Necessities of Life with Activities & Dreams of Life with Activities). "Unicharm Corporation wishes to provide people of all ages, from babies to the elderly, with products to gently support their minds and bodies to free them from burdens and allow them to fulfill their dreams," explains Takahisa Takahara, President & CEO.

Through the years, Unicharm has worked continuously to develop an extensive lineup of distinctive products and services in line with its Vision. Consider the example of "Lifree," a global brand which aims to offer people "the freedom of life." The company has introduced "Unicharm Lifree Rehabilitation Pants," a product that represents Unicharm's commitment to reducing the number of bedridden patients to zero. Unicharm also sells "Lifree Walking Assist Pants," which facilitate independence in walking by providing a pelvic support fit.

Unicharm is demonstrating its commitment to upholding its Vision in Asian countries by meticulously tailoring its approach to meet the needs of the local market. For example, the company has developed mosquito-repellent disposable diapers to minimize exposure to mosquitos, which carry the virus that causes Dengue Fever.

Unicharm realizes its Vision not only through products but also through services. One such service is a fixed-price diaper delivery system for nursery schools. When a nursery school uses this service, the parents no longer need to provide the school with diapers for their toddlers.