Success Story From Japan
Throughout cities in Japan you will find people handing out tissues on the street for free. Tissues come in little packs that can fit in the palm of your hand. These ‘pocket tissues’ have caught my attention ever since I moved to Japan. I never saw anything like this in my years living in the United States. Pocket tissues are available in the US and Europe but are not a commodity like in Japan.
This country is using pocket tissues as a form of advertising which is quite clever. With allergies and colds, people will always need tissues. At least one in ten people in Japan have allergies. Recently I conducted a survey about pocket tissues to see what the Japanese people think about my fascination. The results both caught my attention and also reconfirmed some points that I forecasted before the survey. The survey was conducted by 500 panelists living in the busy Tokyo Metropolitan Area. Out of the 500 surveyed, 328 people (65.4%) get up to 5 packs of tissues a week. To my surprise, 143 people (28.5%) never take tissues from the streets. I always enjoy free tissues, but I see to many people this is not a necessity.
Within the 358 panelists that collect at least one pocket tissue from the streets, my findings show that 99% of the people use the tissues. About 10% of the panelists glance at the advertisement which is where the marketing may have an impact. Companies do not expect a large turnover from the tissue advertisement but rather expect to increase the awareness of a product. Less than 2 percent of the panelists contacted the company advertised, visited the home page, or the actual store.
There are various ads but the runaway Number 1 is Loan ads. In Japan these are called ‘sarakin’ ads and are targeted towards Japanese salary men. This seems like a clever idea knowing that salary men are expected to take out big loans in their lifetime whether for a home or other big purchases. Busy Tokyo streets are filled with salary men and are an easy target. In my findings, 43% of pocket tissue ads are loans or related to finance. Other runner-ups include Travel (4.4%), Real Estate (7.2%) and Adult content (13.4%).
After living in California, I was pleased to find that I will never have to pay for tissues in Japan! Every morning I run into at least one person handing out tissues on the busy Tokyo streets. My findings reveal that these ads do increase awareness of companies, but most people end their actions by solely using the tissues.
As an ad medium, tissues are not to be sneezed at
People handing out tissue packets to passersby outside train stations have been a common sight for years. A man receives a packet of tissues as he exits JR Shinbashi Station in Minato Ward, Tokyo. According to manufacturers, around 2 billion pocket-size packets of tissues are handed out annually, usually to advertise a business.
Hiroshi Mori, founder of tissue maker Meisei Sansho Co. of Kochi Prefecture, hit upon the idea of marketing tissue packets in Japan in 1968, inspired by standard-size boxes of tissues — a novelty at the time — imported from the United States.
Banks became the first buyers of Meisei Sansho’s pocket tissues. It was a time when their promotional activities were restricted, said Sadao Morimura of Meisei. Because of their popularity, pocket tissues replaced matchbooks as giveaway items at bank counters, he said.
Giveaway tissue packs that include an advertisement slip are now widely used by businesses ranging from consumer lenders to language schools, restaurants to pachinko parlors. ADSP Corp., an ad agency handling pocket tissues, said the main reasons the packets are popular are that they can be an effective ad medium at low cost. “An ad in a packet containing eight tissues is seen every time a tissue is used,” said Mitsuhiro Tanaka of ADSP, noting an order of 50,000 packets costs only 5 yen per packet.
Consumer-loan giant Takefuji Corp., which distributed about 250 million tissue packets in fiscal 2003, passes them out as part of its business strategy. The firm’s 3,300 employees, including managers, at about 530 outlets nationwide alternately take to the streets to distribute them. “We are trying to convey our attitude to potential customers while handing out tissues,” spokesman Masayuki Yamamoto said, noting the promotional activity can help improve the firm’s image.
But for the legions of part-timers who pass out the tissues, their only concern is to approach as many passersby as possible. A 25-year-old woman handing out tissues in Tokyo’s Shibuya Ward had the knack. “Most people will take it if you hold it out to their hands while looking in their eyes,” said the woman, who only identified herself as Mayumi.
Tissue distributors are usually young part-time workers who stand at busy places in Tokyo and other Japanese cities and distribute free packages of tissues. In Tokyo, for example, you can find especially many distributors around Shibuya and Shinjuku station.
The purpose of distributing large numbers of tissues for free is advertisement. Ads are printed onto each package, typically for an erotic store, a party telephone number, restaurant promotions or the like. The tissues are useful to pedestrians since they can be used on public toilets where toilet paper is not always supplied.
Free tissue distribution becomes common in Japan since long time as method of advertisement. This method is been followed by many other countries around the world today.
10 reasons why "Tissue Advertisement"
- Latest Trend & MORE EFFECTIVE way of advertisement from Asia, United States, United Kingdom and more.
- Everyone WANTS FREE tissue & NO wastage of advertisement. (People gratefully TAKE & KEEP this)
- Easy to be Kept & SHARE with friends, family, colleagues etc.
- Suitable for all age & can be used Anywhere at Anytime.
- It is an ACTIVE & DIRECT way of communication with consumers.
- More Attractive to the public as they will come forward to notice your advertisement / “BRAND IMAGE”.
- Mass Exposure & the best way to remind consumers of your brand.
- Extend the lifespan of your advertisement.
- As a Souvenir for your customers.
- Cheaper way to advertise. (from 20$ per pack)