Arab consumers associate Japan with high quality

Toyota's FJ Cruiser is one of the most popular off-road adventure vehicle among Arabs. (Supplied)
Updated 27 October 2019

Arab consumers associate Japan with high quality

  • Japan and its products are highly regarded in the Middle East, a YouGov study has found
  • After Sony, the second most recognizable brand among Arabs is the retail company Muji

LONDON: Japanese products are synonymous with quality among Arabs, a recent poll by Arab News and YouGov has found.
The poll asked residents across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region to rank Japan, China, South Korea and the US in terms of the quality of products they produce.
Among Arabs 71 percent listed Japan first, with the US, South Korea and China ranked second, third and fourth, respectively.
In many ways, the result is unsurprising. Japan and its products are highly regarded in the region, with many Arabs having a positive view of the country and its people. When asked by the same poll to list the attributes they most associate with Japanese people, a large majority of respondents selected “hardworking,” “organized” and “punctual.”
The poll found that the most recognizable Japanese brand among residents of the MENA region is Sony, with 60 percent of respondents correctly identifying it as Japanese. The figure was notably high among those aged over 40, of whom 78 percent recognized Sony as a Japanese company.
According to the poll’s findings, the second most recognizable Japanese brand among Arabs is the retail company Muji, which 32 percent of respondents identified as Japanese. Muji was especially recognized among women and younger people, with 40 percent of women selecting it as Japanese compared with only 28 percent of men.

If Muji’s high level of recognition as a Japanese brand is notable, especially in comparison to Nintendo, which only 19 percent of respondents recognized as Japanese, it is not exactly surprising. In recent years, “fast fashion” companies such as Muji and Uniqlo, which was not listed in the poll, have become one of Japan’s most successful and fastest-growing exports. In February 2015, there were three Muji stores in the UAE. Today, there are seven.
The strong reputation of such brands and their clear identification as Japanese among Arab consumers no doubt contributes to Japanese products’ reputation for quality in the Middle East.
Uniqlo is one of the only clothes retailers in YouGov’s 2019 Global Brand Health Index
Top 20, which tracks brand perception across a range of metrics.

ALSO READ: Poll reveals a crowded list of Arabs' favorite Japanese car brands

The poll also found that Arab consumers have positive misconceptions about the quality of Japanese products. A substantial number of respondents — 22 percent and 24 percent, respectively — mistakenly identified the South Korean brands Samsung and LG as Japanese.
Such mistakes are interesting because they show the extent to which Japanese products have become synonymous with quality products in the eyes of Middle Eastern consumers.
Samsung and LG are both seen as high-quality brands in the region — Samsung is placed third on YouGov’s UAE 2019 Brand Index, and both brands are in the 2019 Global Brand Health Index Top 20, with Samsung ranked fourth, higher than any Japanese brand.
Given that Arabs rank Japan first in terms of the quality of its products, and South Korea third, it is tempting to conclude that many Arabs perceive Samsung and LG to be Japanese rather than South Korean simply because the associations with quality are so much higher for the former country.

S&P 500 inches closer to record high

Updated 12 August 2020

S&P 500 inches closer to record high

  • US stock market index returns to levels last seen before the onset of coronavirus crisis

NEW YORK: The S&P 500 on Tuesday closed in on its February record high, returning to levels last seen before the onset of the coronavirus crisis that caused one of Wall Street’s most dramatic crashes in history.

The benchmark index was about half a percent below its peak hit on Feb. 19, when investors started dumping shares in anticipation of what proved to be the biggest slump in the US economy since the Great Depression.

Ultra-low interest rates, trillions of dollars in stimulus and, more recently, a better-than-feared second quarter earnings season have allowed all three of Wall Street’s main indexes to recover.

The tech-heavy Nasdaq has led the charge, boosted by “stay-at-home winners” Inc., Netflix Inc. and Apple Inc. The index was down about 0.4 percent.

The blue chip Dow surged 1.2 percent, coming within 5 percent of its February peak.

“You’ve got to admit that this is a market that wants to go up, despite tensions between US-China, despite news of the coronavirus not being particularly encouraging,” said Andrea Cicione, a strategist at TS Lombard.

“We’re facing an emergency from the health, economy and employment point of view — the outlook is a lot less rosy. There’s a disconnect between valuation and the actual outlook even though lower rates to some degree justify high valuation.”

Aiding sentiment, President Vladimir Putin claimed Russia had become the first country in the world to grant regulatory approval to a COVID-19 vaccine. But the approval’s speed has concerned some experts as the vaccine still must complete final trials.

Investors are now hoping Republicans and Democrats will resolve their differences and agree on another relief program to support about 30 million unemployed Americans, as the battle with the virus outbreak was far from over with US cases surpassing 5 million last week.

Also in focus are Sino-US tensions ahead of high-stakes trade talks in the coming weekend.

“Certainly the rhetoric from Washington has been negative with regards to China ... there’s plenty of things to worry about, but markets are really focused more on the very easy fiscal and monetary policies at this point,” said Paul Nolte, portfolio manager at Kingsview Asset Management in Chicago.

Financials, energy and industrial sectors, that have lagged the benchmark index this year, provided the biggest boost to the S&P 500 on Tuesday.

The S&P 500 was set to rise for the eighth straight session, its longest streak of gains since April 2019.

The S&P 500 was up 15.39 points, or 0.46 percent, at 3,375.86, about 18 points shy of its high of 3,393.52. The Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 341.41 points, or 1.23 percent, at 28,132.85, and the Nasdaq Composite was down 48.37 points, or 0.44 percent, at 10,919.99.

Royal Caribbean Group jumped 4.6 percent after it hinted at new safety measures aimed at getting sailing going again after months of cancellations. Peers Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd. and Carnival Corp. also rose.

US mall owner Simon Property Group Inc. gained 4.1 percent despite posting a disappointing second quarter profit, as its CEO expressed some hope over a recovery in retail as lockdown measures in some regions eased.

Advancing issues outnumbered decliners 3.44-to-1 on the NYSE and 1.44-to-1 on the Nasdaq.

The S&P index recorded 35 new 52-week highs and no new low, while the Nasdaq recorded 50 new highs and four new lows.