A British Military Theory Finds Favour Among Japan’s Businesses

A British Military Theory Finds Favor Among Japan's Businesses by Dr. Nigel Campbell, Manchester School of Business UK with permission of the Financial Times Newspaper England. The connection between F. W. Lanchester, who designed one of the first British cars, Admiral Lord Nelson, the famous British hero, and a modern Japanese marketing consultant is not one that immediately springs to mind. And yet to the Japanese business community this eccentric link is becoming increasingly familiar as managers learn of the military strategy used by all three to great effect. Dr. Nobuo Taoka The consultant in question is Nobuo Taoka, who, since its foundation in 1976 has turned his firm, Lanchester Systems KK, into one of Japan's leading marketing consultancies. His company bases its advice entirely on Lanchester strategy, a strategy of military confrontation developed by the British engineer and mathematician F. W. Lanchester (1868 - 1946) which adds considerable weight and precision to the well-known American principles of market segmentation and "niche strategy." Since its emergence from the shadows of history in the early 1970s, Lanchester strategy has reinforced the Japanese tendency to adopt a "laser beam" approach to market penetration into one precise segment after another, until the onslaught becomes a veritable "cascade" into the market as a whole. Discovery of Lanchester's laws It became quite by chance that Taoka came across a cursory reference to Lanchester Strategy 30 years ago in a Japanese government document. He was intrigued to discover that it had been used by the U.S. Navy against the Japanese during the war in the Pacific. Along with a colleague, Taikohboh Onoda, he began seriously to research Lanchester's military principles and to develop ways of applying those principles to business competition. [...]