Recipe for a New Strategy

Zojirushi ruled rice cookers--but to grow, it had to bring a unique design focus to other products

The Mr. Bento, Rizo Micom Rice Cooker and Warmer, Home Bakery Mini Breadmaker and Vacuum Electric Hybrid Water Boiler and Warmer by Zojirushi.

It's tough living on a rice diet. But for Zojirushi, a Japanese kitchen-gadget maker, grains have been golden. The company specializes in rice cookers that fetch as much as $1,000. Its high-end devices, which look more like computers than pots, have enticed the class of techie epicures who like $10,000 stoves and fridges. With a series of innovations — from induction-heating advances to sleek, vacuum-sealed containers designed to serve rice at its most succulent, Zojirushi has cooked up a following that yields $600 million in annual sales.

Founded in 1918, Zojirushi long relied on Japan for the bulk...

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