Can a small startup help a Japanese convenience store giant promote itself abroad?



Japanese convenience store chain Lawson has partnered with up-and-coming startup Tokyo Otaku Mode (TOM) to establish a special promotion page to increase the store’s brand awareness in Asia and the rest of the world.

Lawson has more than 10,000 stores in Japan, but it also has presences in China, Indonesia, and Hawaii. With plans to penetrate South East Asian markets it is launching more than 50 stores in Thailand by the end of this year. In the Asia region, people seem to have a deep affinity for Japanese anime and comics, so the convenience store chain decided to ask Tokyo Otaku Mode (which has more than 11 million of such geeky fans on its Facebook page) to help out with its promotion campaign.

On the promo page (located at there are many posts of certain characters introducing what you can buy at the convenience store. Fans can like the posts, which should give Lawson increased visibility even in regions where it doesn’t yet have a presence.

In addition to 11 million likes on Facebook, the startup’s Otaku Camera app has seen 2.5 downloads in five months since its launch. With the funds raised from three major VC firms last month, the company is preparing to launch an e-commerce channel which could be its first significant revenue stream. But with partnerships such as this one with Lawson, the startup could also bring in some revenue by tying up with big Japanese companies struggling to get attention from global audiences.

To learn more about TOM, please see our exclusive feature interview from last month.