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Business Trends

Amazon undisputed game changer in Nikkei hit rankings

Reels in customers with fresh food and music, but sparks courier crisis

The "Amazon effect" and Nintendo video game consoles are this year's grand champions.

TOKYO -- The Nikkei rankings of the biggest hits of 2017 have been released, and this year, products that make life that little bit easier came out on top.

The Nikkei Marketing Journal's annual list of what made a big impact follows the ranking system for sumo wrestlers. Yokozuna, or Grand Champion, is at the very top, followed by the ranks of Ozeki, Sekiwake, Komusubi and Maegashira. 

Top of the list and ranked as east Yokozuna was the "Amazon effect," which boosted product lineups and made consumers' lives easier, but also caused a spike in home-delivery prices. The sheer volume of deliveries forced top courier Yamato Transport to raise shipping rates in October by an average of 15%, its first increase in nearly three decades.

Amazon Japan launched "Amazon Fresh," a home delivery service for fresh groceries, in April. The online retail giant also made more products available and enhanced video and music streaming services, helping it win over legions of new customers.

Sensing the threat, other retailers had to react. In November, Seven & i Holdings, the operator of Japan's 7-Eleven convenience stores, launched its own fresh-food delivery service in partnership with office supplies provider Askul

AI speakers such as the Google Home are changing the way people control entertainment systems and home appliances.

Nintendo game consoles were ranked as the west Yokozuna. The Switch, which can be used as either a portable or home console, sold 7.63 million units in about seven months. The Classic Mini: Super Famicom, (known as the Super NES Classic Edition in the U.S.), a compact recreation of the popular original from the nineties, sold 2 million units in just one month.

AI speakers released by Amazon, Line and Google were given the rank of Ozeki, or champion, in the west division. It is expected that artificial intelligence gadgets like these will soon be able to understand what people say and control home appliances and entertainment systems.

Pop star Namie Amuro will be missed by millions of fans when she retires next year.

Pop star Namie Amuro, who announced she would retire next September after a quarter of a century in the business, was ranked Ozeki in the east division. Her decision to call time on her career won her many fans among women going through important stages in their lives, like marriage or childbirth. Her greatest hits album sold more than 1 million copies.

The third rung on the sumo ladder is the rank of Sekiwake, for which online clothing retailer Zozotown was chosen in the west division. Its Zozosuit, a "smart" body-measurement suit, received more than 230,000 orders in eight hours after launch.

The Ginza Six shopping complex opened in Tokyo this April.

Anti-wrinkle creams released by major cosmetics makers like Pola Orbis Holdings and Shiseido were awarded the title of Komusubi in the east division. Having received approval from the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare, these products can be marketed as having a "wrinkle-reducing" effect -- as opposed to conventional products that can only tout they reduce the "appearance of wrinkles."

The title of west Komusubi went to "sleep debt" products, which cater to people who want to get a good night's sleep and arrive at the office bright-eyed as government-led reforms prompt people to start work earlier in the morning.

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