Israeli footwear manufacturer Teva Naot, based in Kibbutz Yad Mordechai, has made quite the impression in Japan. The company has sold 55,000 pairs of shoes in the Land of the Rising Sun to the tune of $11 million over the past few years.
The secret to the company's success is the Iris model, which is similar to the slippers that traditional Japanese wear with a kimono. These are heelless clogs with removable padding available in 13 colors, with Japan's most popular color being honey brown. Alongside the Iris model, priced at approximately $200, about 20 other models are sold that are tailored for the Japanese market.
The shoes are marketed in three Japanese stores under the Naot brand. It has two stores in Tokyo and one store in the city of Nara. Another store costing NIS 1,000,000 is soon to open in Tokyo.
Two stores more are expected to open in Japan in the next three years. The company also operates an online store in Japanese. Teva Naot footwear is marketed to about 50 countries, and the company intends to make the Japanese market one of its biggest in the world.
As a part of an aggressive marketing strategy, the Japanese distributor promotes its product by hiring popular singers to sing in stores. The company also operates vans that are present at fairs, festivals and major entertainment centers for promotional offers.
"The Japanese treat their shoes differently," said Michael Illouz, CEO of Teva Naot. "They do not throw them away, but change worn parts. When the shoe is worn out, they bring it to the store for recycling and we make the secondhand shoes into art exhibits.”