Product size is often one of the first things international food brands have to adjust when entering the Japanese market. Not only is the average Japanese home too small to store western-sized jumbo packages, Japanese eating habits are typically different from their overseas counterparts.
But it's not just foreign firms that learn optimizing package size can lead to more sales.
A couple of months ago Japanese condiments giant Kewpie reduced the volume of its salad dressings from 200 to 170 milliliters--and was surprised to see a 5% increase in order volume versus the same period last year.
According to a Nikkei article, the company attributes the bounce to the fact that the package better suits current Japanese demographics. With household sizes shrinking, too many people were consistently throwing out bottles whose "best by" date arrived before the product could be entirely consumed. Plus, many more kinds dressings are available at supermarkets these days so consumers have a larger variety at home, resulting in extended usage cycles for each bottle.
However, Kewpie cut the price to reflect the 15% reduction in size, so it could be that stores are ordering more to satisfy consumer demand for cheaper products of all types--something Kewpie apparently adamantly denies.
You're hot, you're tired, you're stressed out. You reach into the fridge for a cool one and eagerly pop the pull tab. Even before the brew reaches your lips, you're already starting to relax. . .
Knowing that sensation and sound can cause a pleasant Pavlovian response, Japanese toy maker Bandai has introduced a number of novelty items in recent years that let users endlessly relive the oddly satisfying and addicting sensation of squeezing, tearing and pulling everyday objects like bubble wrap, cookie packages and even edamame beans.
Now the company is targeting those who respond happily to the experience of opening beer cans.
Slated for release in June, Mugen (endless) Can Beerwill be available in any of four colors for less than the cost of a few containers of the real stuff (819 yen).
Whaddya think? Did Japanese regional beer Takahashi come up with the idea for these brews as part of market expansion plans to America's red and blue states, as an ode to the choice given Neo of Matrix fame, or out of nostalgia toward Dr. Seuss?
This new zero-calorie soda from Japanese beverage company Calpis adds ginger flavoring to the brand's traditional yogurty base. The sophisticated package really pops and got me to easily part with 150 yen. Unfortunately, the design is more satisfying than the beverage itself, which is lightweight and nearly tasteless. Given the creamy background and the swirling hurricane graphic, I had been hoping for something along the lines of a crispy cream soda. Maybe next time.
In Japan, soft drink manufacturers often use on-pack omake ("freebies") to promote repeat sales. Not too long ago, canned coffee maker UCC tied up with All Nippon Airways to release a series of mini figurines that showcased the evolution of uniforms worn by the airline's flight attendants (click photo for larger view). Between 1955 and 2005, ANA changed its uniforms nine times, so UCC created nine figurines for consumers to collect.
For an example of an on-pack promo executed by Coca Cola Japan's Georgia canned coffee, check out this earlier post.
Valentine's Day is just a little more than a week away.
In Japan, the holiday has traditionally been a one-way street, where only women give chocolate or homemade sweets to men (who are expected to return the favor in a Japan-created holiday known as "White Day" that falls on March 14).
However, according to one research study I read recently, something like 20% of Japanese men plan to give presents to women on Valentine's Day this year, and now a couple of Japan's major confectioners have included in their lineups new products targeting male purchasers.
The product shown above is a clever example from Morinaga. Splashed with a blue ribbon that roughly translated says "This year, give in reverse," the package makes a playful appeal to men with English language product copy that's printed backwards.