With ‘Hana-Sake Nippon!’ campaign, regional sake makers give Japanese permission to imbibe

Japanese people tend to worry about what others think of them. And in times like these, they don’t wish to be seen as insensitive by having parties and drinking. Concerned about the growing trend of “jishuku” (self-restraint) and sliding sales, a couple of sake makers in the hard-hit prefecture of Iwate posted a video on YouTube encouraging people to “go to hanami [a picnic or party under the cherry blossoms], drink sake and enjoy!” Viewers were asked to help the region by purchasing its food and sake products. The tagline was “Hana-Sake Nippon!,” a play on words: “hana” means “flower” and “hanasake” means “to bloom”—in other words, blooming with sake.

Once people were given permission to drink by a region affected by the disaster, and doing so was positioned as a way of helping, all the pent-up need to relax and have fun was allowed to come out. In 10 days the video collected 430,000 views, and the sake brands mentioned in the clip quickly sold out. Follow-up videos by food manufacturers and sake makers from Fukushima and Miyagi (also prefectures in the Tohoku region) are now urging consumers to buy Tohoku regional products. “Hana-Sake Nippon!” is evolving into a movement.

For brands, this is a great example of connecting two insights into Japanese sentiment right now in order to activate consumers. “Giving permission” to people overcomes the Japanese desire to avoid being seen poorly by others, as well as the caution in making purchase and activity decisions that comes with it, and taps into the latent desire to support those most affected by the disaster.

「ハナ・サケ ニッポン!」

馬場志延 – 東京

復興の花を咲かせるという意味も含まれた「ハナ・サケ ニッポン!」は、東北地方の産品を買い、飲み、食べることによって長期的に被災地を応援しようというもの。

東北の地酒を飲むことが被災地の願いであり、またその行為が支援につながることと位置付けされることで、ポジティブな気持ちでお花見することができる。ビデオは投稿からおよそ10日で430,000回視聴、動画内で紹介された地酒はすぐに完売となった。地酒だけでなく、東北の食材バージョンも登場するなど、「ハナ・サケ ニッポン!」がある種のムーブメントになってきている。


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