Business

Dyson is eyeing Japan with its high-end hairdryer

By Oliver Smith 27 April 2016
Sir James Dyson with the company's new Supersonic hairdryer.
Summary

Just why does Sir James Dyson insist on launching new products in Asia first?

This morning Sir James Dyson revealed his company’s latest innovation, a bladeless hairdryer called Supersonic that is quieter and lighter than normal hairdryers.

“Hair dryers can be heavy, inefficient and make a racket,” said James Dyson, commenting on the market for Dyson’s £299 Supersonic.

“By looking at them further we realised that they can also cause extreme heat damage to hair. I challenged Dyson engineers to really understand the science of hair and develop our version of a hair dryer, which we think solves these problems.”

But what’s most interesting about Supersonic, and a number of Dyson’s recent products, is the company’s focus on Asia over its home market in the UK.

Eye on Japan

The Supersonic goes on sale today in Japan, whilst here in the UK we’ll have to wait until June.

“Japan is the first country that embraced Dyson technology 22 years ago,” a Dyson spokesperson told The Memo.

“They’re tech-savvy and forward thinking.”

James Dyson is understood to have an affinity for the Japanese market, indeed in 1983 when he launched his first vacuum cleaner when UK manufacturers and retailers turned him away, it was only Japan where he was able to launch.

The Supersonic isn’t the first time that Dyson has prioritised Japan, whether it’s the company’s 360 Eye robotic vacuum cleaner that remains a Japan-only product or Dyson’s Pure Cool fan which first launched in the country.

Not a bad idea

It might sound odd launching products halfway around the world from Dyson’s headquarters, but it’s a strategy that seems to be working.

We’ve said before that Dyson is the greatest example of a British hardware-maker seeing global success, last year selling a huge £1.7bn worth of vacuum cleaners, bladeless fans and air purifiers.

It’s sales grew 26% in 2015, driven largely by explosive growth in Asian markets like China where its air purifiers, largely ignored in Britain, have found an excellent market opportunity in cities like Beijing which suffer from hazardous smog levels.

Read more: Dyson is proof that Britain can build great hardware

And for Supersonic to launch in Japan first, a country where 96% of households own a hairdryer and 37% of men own a hairdryer, that certainly sounds like a shrewd business decision to us.