The N.Y. Times has a little feature on the Japanese knick-knack chain RanKing RanQueen, which purports to sell only the “top” items in a product category. Most select shops operate like editorial-retail and choose goods based on subjective taste criteria.
So what makes RanKing interesting is their bold claim of scientifically-determined stock lists? Capitalist societies need middlemen to sort information and goods flowing in the stream between producer and consumer, but in the case of Japan where businesses interests dominate all other participants in the distribution chain, subjective rankings are a no-no, which explains the fascination with data-based vertical rankings in place of critical reviews.
But the main question is, where do RanKing’s rankings come from? According to the article, they are compiled based on Tokyu Hands sales figures and also, “numbers from independent research companies.” I’m suspicious about that last data set — seems like a perfect cover for the necessary tweaks to please the businesses supplying the goods for sale.
Since the mainstream political press and the consumer press all confer legitimacy upon themselves through an air of “independent review” and then pay the bills through direct financial payment from companies for pro quid pro positive press, I am really doubtful that these RanKing RanQueen rankings are actually “objective.” In the case of this particular retail store, I doubt anyone cares either way, but I do take objection to the idea that these stores are “reporting on trends” when they might just be “making them.”