Business / Corporate

Jins eyewear-maker plans overseas expansion amid sluggish domestic market

by Kazuaki Nagata

Staff Writer

Eyewear-maker Jin Co., which offers low-price glasses under the brand name Jins, aims to expand its business overseas amid a shrinking domestic market, CEO Hitoshi Tanaka said Friday.

“Japan’s market will be shrinking because of low birthrate and aging population. This is why we started going overseas at an early time and are looking at the global market, although this is rare for (Japanese) eyewear makers,” said Tanaka at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan in Tokyo.

Jin, which had 292 stores in Japan as of November, entered the Chinese market in 2010 and now has 60 stores there. The firm opened its first U.S. store in San Francisco in August and is looking to enter other regions such as Europe.

Tanaka said that although the domestic market will shrink, Jin still planned to increase the number of stores in Japan to 500 from the current 292.

Jin’s glasses fall under the lowest price category in the Japanese market, and Tanaka is hoping for a similar market segment in the U.S. and Europe.

In China and other emerging countries, where prices tend to be either very cheap or very expensive, Jin’s products will be positioned in the middle, he said.

Founded in 1988, Jin has grown by providing affordable eyewear at myriad locations for easy accessibility.

Tanaka said people previously had to pay tens of thousands of yen and wait about a week for a pair of glasses after having their eyesight checked. He saw a business opportunity and was determined to change the market.

By eliminating wholesalers, Jin was able to provide glasses from about ¥5,000, Tanaka said.

Jin also offered new glasses with additional functions for those with sufficient eyesight, such as Jins Screen, which cuts blue light emitted from computer and smartphone screens to prevent eye fatigue and insomnia.

Most recently, it has created Jins Meme, glasses equipped with various sensors, including a gyroscope and electrooculography, a method to record eye movement, to monitor not only sports activities, but also how sleepy the wearer is by checking blinks and eye movement.

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