Saturday, 8 February 2014

A very Japanese approach to marketing a Kit Kat

Regulars to this blog will know my interest in all things Japanese, marketing and confectionary, and particularly the recent trend to reinvent (I would say 'sex up' but that does not have a very academic chime to it ?)  long standing stalwart brands, such as the Snickers bar and even old faithfuls from days gone by like the traditional custard cream biscuit.  

I have an inkling of looking into retro sweets, you know, those old fashioned boiled sweets you used to buy loose from a big jar, like strawberry bons   bons, pontefract cakes and mint imperials.  It seems sales of these products grew significantly last year (nothing to do with Wolworth's demise I suppose ?).  My old favourite 2p priced liquorice stick is now retailing at an eye watering 25p, supposedly because suppliers are hard to find according to our local olde worlde sweet shop.  

Imagine my delight when Hayata-san, over to visit Royal Holloway before putting in an application for the full time MBA programme, presented me with a gift set of unusually tailored Kit Kat special editions.  Since my last visit to Japan, when we picked up sakura, green tea and wasabi flavoured gift packs using our last Yen currency at Narita airport, the clever marketing people in Nestle' Japan have taken the ideas further and developed a wider range of options.  Some leverage an interesting flavour, so chilli draws from the ancient Aztec {savoury} dish that sees chilli and chocolate blended together for the adventurous palette. Strawberry cheesecake uses a white chocolate coating and biscuit infused with red goo.    Both have got to be winners with a clear appeal of dare and hedonistic pleasure.  Others that purport to regional Japanese differences allow for a Tokyo product to boast its own geographic credentials, and fit effectively in the Japanese gift giving culture that seeks to venerate an element of the local culture.  

Hurrah ! say I.  In a world that is increasingly homogenious, seeing a global brand localise in such a manner is genius innovation and that just has to be congratulated.  

Not forgetting that the simple and relatively cheap, packaging adaption (four large bars are wrapped together using a four colour, gloss printed, cardboard sleeve) repositions a generic and ubiquitous fmcg item into a bundle that makes it suitable to give as a gift for family or in a business context.  Added value, marketing premier league style !

Arigato Hayata-san !