David Blecken
Aug 1, 2017

Can US tech giants learn something from Rakuten?

A branding expert asks if Rakuten’s partnership with HomeAway could be a precursor of innovation from the likes of Facebook.

Image: Rakuten Lifull Stay
Image: Rakuten Lifull Stay

Rakuten’s recent collaboration with HomeAway to compete in Japan’s growing leisure property rentals market could serve to inspire companies like Facebook, Amazon or eBay, according to Alan Casey, a partner at the branding consultancy Prophet.

Casey said the Japanese company’s aspirations in the property rental market is “a great example of Rakuten finding a new way to monetise its user base beyond advertising and extend their frame of reference to more of a lifestyle or life partner brand”.

He noted that companies such as Facebook have “a huge installed base of frequent users but for the most part make money solely from custom ads that add little value to those consumers.

“If they were to follow in Rakuten’s shoes and in essence become a diversified service provider, they could generate new sources of income by leveraging the equity of the brand,” he said. “They could partner to get the required competencies to deliver those services, but their role would be as the trusted platform, perhaps even going as far in the future as WeChat has managed in China.”

But Casey said that success for Rakuten Lifull Stay and HomeAway’s venture would depend on ability to generate awareness of the service and “leverage their sophisticated direct marketing capabilities to unlock domestic demand for the service”.

A spokesperson for Rakuten said the company does not have any immediate plans for consumer-focused promotional campaigns. The spokesperson said the first step will be seminars for real estate companies and property owners to raise awareness and understanding of the vacation rental business.

Published first on Campaign Japan: 米国の巨人たちが楽天から学ぶもの 

Campaign Japan

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