Ivey Publishing
Hatsune Miku: Japanese Virtual Idol Ignites Global Value Co-creation
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16 pages (11 pages of text)
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Case (Field)
Crypton Future Media, a music software company based in Sapporo, Japan, developed Hatsune Miku (HM), a singing voice synthesizer software program (Vocaloid). Users entered lyrics and melodies to create songs, which were then sung by Hatsune Miku, a 16-year-old female virtual singer featured on the software packaging.

Initially targeting professionals, HM unexpectedly caught on among amateurs who produced music, lyrics, artwork and videos, which they shared via websites such as YouTube, Nico Nico Douga and Crypton’s Piapro. Users often worked collaboratively, and by March 2014, Miku had over 110,000 released songs, 170,000 uploaded videos, 1,000,000 created artworks and nearly two million Facebook “likes.” Miku’s popularity led to international media coverage and numerous new business opportunities for Crypton. She held sold out “live” concerts worldwide, starred in her own video game series produced by SEGA Games and was “hired” to advertise for companies including Toyota, Google and Domino’s Pizza.

Six years after the initial launch, Crypton and its chief executive officer were faced with a series of challenges related to the future development of their virtual idol and the businesses that grew around her.
Learning Objective:
In a marketing setting, the case exposes students to issues of brand management, consumer behaviour, customer relationships and product development and to the principles and practices of value co-creation. In a strategy setting, the case challenges students to consider how to manage the relationship between a firm’s core business and skills and an unexpected success that changes the firm’s direction and requires new skills and strategic thinking. Another strategy-related theme that can be explored is the influence of the personal values of the firm’s leadership on firm strategy.

Intellectual property rights and Creative Commons License issues and value co-creation as open innovation make the case appropriate for courses on innovation. As HM and Crypton faced many of the same opportunities and challenges that other celebrities faced — career/image management, sponsorship and licensing opportunities, etc. — the case can be used in courses on the creative and cultural industries. Taking place in Japan, the case can also be used in courses on international business and is useful for exploring cultural differences and the role they played in Miku’s creation and her potential market appeal outside her home country.
General Management/Strategy,  International
Arts, Entertainment, Sports and Recreation
Japan, Small, 2014
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