Author: Tim Craig
Published September 2017.
Length: 13 pages (plus exhibits)

In April 2017, when Kuniko Osabe became the first female president of Ozeki Sake Brewing Company, Japan’s fifth-largest sake brewer, the company she headed faced two major challenges. The first was to upgrade the Ozeki brand image and increase sales of its premium products. Although the only part of the sake market that was growing was the premium end, Ozeki was best known for its non-premium One Cup Ozeki, which accounted for one third of sales. The second challenge was to increase overseas sales, particularly in North America, where Ozeki had been the first Japanese brewer to establish a brewery but where competition was increasing as sake drinking caught on in the US and Canada.

The first half of the Ozeki case introduces Japanese sake: its history, the brewing process, the various grades of sake and how they differ, and the competitive landscape. The latter half covers the history, products, and current situation of Ozeki, circling back to the challenges the company needs to overcome in order to sustain and add to its long, proud history.

Topics: Sake (Japanese “rice wine”), Brand image, Marketing, Overseas market development.