JWT’s AnxietyIndex is designed as a place to discuss how brands and consumers are responding to the global recession. With daily content updates, AnxietyIndex.com includes contributions from around JWT’s network, offering a truly global perspective.
In Japan, Kit Kat has launched World Variety, a new multi-pack with three Kit Kat flavors from around the world. With each purchase Kit Kat is donating 20 yen to the Sanriku Railway, a vital lifeline for many Tohoku coastal communities, which were heavily damaged by last year’s earthquake and tsunami. With the reopening of a key section of the railway line this month, the brand is also decorating the outside of trains with messages of hope and goodwill from Kit Kat fans around the world. Fans can submit messages of support in their language to the brand’s Facebook page.
We called this initiative Kit Zutto Project to let people in Tohoku know we will be there for them: Kitto means “surely” and zutto “for a long time.” Last July, we posted about Kit Kat selling a special Northern Japanese flavor nationwide, with Nestlé donating a portion of sales to the Japanese Red Cross.
After last year’s earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster in Japan, nuclear power was shut down, and Japanese citizens were forced to cut back on power use. In response, Schick and JWT came up with “Unplugged,” a small holder that reminds people not to use electricity (by blocking the electrical outlet) and provides a place to hang a razor at the same time.
The shaver and holder were sold together in promotional packs to make them more accessible to all consumers. Outlets in public bathrooms and those in restaurants and bars were hijacked to convey the message that “Schick saves electricity with you.” Leaflets with general energy saving tips were also part of the campaign.
The brand gave consumers a novel and easy way to adjust their behavior at a time of high anxiety and showed support for the common cause of saving electricity.
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.