In Topics, we will deliver not only the taste of sake but also the story and thoughts behind it through interviews with the sake producers handled by the sake select shop Mirai Nihonshuten .
This is the final interview with Mr. Watanabe of Shimizuya Sake Brewery. He talked about Shimizuya Sake Brewery's masterpiece " Eimanju " and the sales of sake in detail.
Marriage created by acidity
-Next, I would like to ask you about alcohol in detail. First, what kind of age and gender targets do you have?
First of all, regarding the target, when I started brewing sake, I was thinking about women who are around 28 or 9 years old and are working energetically . It is an image that I have enough money and I am doing one or two lessons.
Women tend to have tighter purse strings than men, and we had an image that if they liked it, they would use it, which is one of the reasons we targeted it.
Looking at the people who have actually purchased it, it seems that the overall age range is between men and women in their 30s and 40s, and perhaps more women. Fortunately, there are many women at department stores and retailers, and it seems that many of them buy it as a gift. As a target, I feel that the age group is younger than those who enjoy traditional sake, and I think it is heading in a good direction.
-Then, for each product, what kind of food do you think is the best match for each product?
As for sake in general, Japanese cuisine is a culture that goes hand-in-hand with dashi, so basically I think it goes great with dashi dishes . Also, what I personally really liked was the tomato oden. One of the characteristics of our SAKAEMASU is that it has a strong acidity, so it goes very well with the sourness of tomatoes. It mixes in your mouth and becomes a cocktail.
-I imagine it looks very delicious.
At first, there were no stores that carried SAKAEMASU, so I brought it in.
One of the final forms of SAKAEMASU that our company envisions is an image that will be completed in the restaurant scene . The restaurant's delicious food and pleasant service, and the unique atmosphere of the restaurant. I believe that SAKAEMASU is completed with these three things.
So I made a reservation in advance and brought it to an oyster bar and a delicious oden shop. At that time, I came across the tomato oden I mentioned earlier. This goes very well with pure rice sake.
As for the oyster bar, there is Junmai Ginjo. Our Junmai Ginjo has a mellow taste that allows you to feel the umami of rice, so it goes well with creamy and rich oysters.
And don't forget the cheese. There is no such thing as a bad compatibility with fermented foods. Caprese for example. The pairing of tomato and cheese is wonderful, so I hope you enjoy the marriage.
-I see, junmai ginjo has a strong cheese, and refreshing things such as mozzarella and fresh ones, and depending on the case, mascarpone and fruity things like junmai sake are good?
I agree. As you say, acid is the key to sake. The part that forms the skeleton of the flavor is the acid, so I'm thinking about what kind of food it's compatible with acid.
We are actively trying to combine Italian, French, and Chinese cuisines.
Cultivate new customers for sake
-Thank you for being so specific. It's very close to wine.
Even when you talked about age and gender earlier, I could tell that you were thinking specifically about how the expected users would experience it, from the part that seems to be doing lessons.
We have previously promoted our products to students in a cooking class, and those who were interested followed our website and received orders from our EC site. Since it was the first time, our main goal was to let people know about SAKAEMASU, but since then we have received more orders from women.
-The market doesn't look like sake.
This is often said, but I thought that everyone was thinking about these things when conducting sales activities.
I think that traditional industries are good things, but I think that there are parts that are forced into such a situation as their competitiveness has declined due to hereditary inheritance. I believe that if we loosen the regulations and make it possible to issue a new sake brewing license, motivated young people will emerge and the industry will become more active and competitive.
-That's right. This is the negative side of traditional industries. I will not get a new sake brewery license. If it's wine or craft beer, I'll get off.
In a way, I see it as an opportunity. New entrants can't enter the market, so I believe that newcomers can break the stereotype and create something new and different.
That's why I didn't even do a 1.8 liter bottle. He was opposed by those around him. I was told that if there were no 1.8 liter bottles and all the bottles were wine bottles with corks to make them difficult to open, no one would buy them. But I see this as an opportunity for me. Because no one has done this so far. If someone in the industry told me that I would succeed, I might have rather failed.
-There are business meetings held several times a year by the Sake Brewers Association to see the various breweries. Can't you go out to such things as sales?
I refuse all. During this season, there are events such as business meetings and sake tasting parties two or three times, but unfortunately I have never participated in them.
-For all sales channels, as I mentioned earlier, I will make a presentation directly at top sales to the personal connections I have built up, including the connections from my previous job. It's the accumulation of that.
Nothing is difficult. If you participate in an event such as a business meeting, your productivity may be good, but most of the people there will be professionals. That's why we can't meet new customers.
It is our sales and branding that we do not participate in industry business meetings. Even if I did participate, I would end up taking customers from existing seniors, and I don't want to do that. We would like to independently develop new customers and boost the industry.
This industry is clearly a competition for customers. We want to do something for our customers who are patronizing us, and from the point of view of me as a player in sales activities, I will continue to do face-to-face relationships. I believe this stance will continue for the next ten to twenty years.
I don't appear in magazines, but I do appear directly in such places. I'm surprised, but I'm told, "Is the president himself running the business?" I have hardly heard of other breweries coming from restaurants.
I hear that sake doesn't sell well, but sake from existing breweries does sell to some extent. It's natural that you can't sell if you're not in business, but I think it's amazing.
Communication is the core
-This is the last question. I think that various efforts are being made to expand the business, but whatever you do, it will be an act that requires a certain amount of money. How are you taking care of that?
With the achievements in the 6th year, we are starting to get calls about subsidies and loans. In addition, while many of the people who have enjoyed our sake are young, there are also some who have retired, and those who like our sake are very helpful. In addition to funding, I was also asked to match personal connections.
This is also the case from the sixth year. I haven't done anything special, but I guess it's because I've been earnestly working on it that I've been approached by people. It's a small stack. That's all I can say.
Yes, communication is important. No matter how state-of-the-art machines you have, you can't get the benefits of personal connections .
It is an asset for both me and the company. I can only thank you for everything. Many people have cooperated with me, and if I were to ask how I would repay them, I would have no choice but to succeed. I don't want it to be a temporary thing, but I have a responsibility to create things that people want to talk to me about.
But nothing is difficult. . However, it is very important to be sincere, to face everything sincerely, and to never betray our customers. People say it's clean, but I think that clean is a big differentiator. Maybe everyone else is tolerant. I think I've been able to keep up until now because of the people I've dated and listened to my selfishness.
Thank you very much, Mr. Watanabe.
*This photo is Mr. Ippei Shibuya, an employee brewer. In accordance with the policy of Mr. Shimizu, the president of our brewery, we carry out public relations activities that feature employees rather than the president himself.