Techdirt reader Kathy
writes in to let us know about the 200 different flavors of Kit Kat candy bars in Japan. Public Radio International describes how Nestle has developed an interesting sales strategy in Japan where the competition among retailers is apparently so great that stores benefit from constantly updating their shelves with new products. In such a marketplace, Nestle has adopted numerous varieties of its Kit Kat candy bars that can only be purchased in certain locations or at specific times of the year. So instead of trying to peddle the same merchandise to everyone, Nestle has effectively given consumers a reason to buy (RtB)
-- by making limited edition flavors and targeting the local tastes and customs in Japan. Nestle caters to Japan's omiage
gift-giving culture (where friends are expected to bring back unique trinkets when they travel) with regional Kit Kats. So for example, a potato-flavored version is only sold in the northern part of Japan known for its potatoes, so northerners (or traveling southerners) can give out unique treats that aren't available nationwide. And all over Japan, the candy bars have also been packaged with mailing labels -- so that the candy can be sent as "good luck" charms. Due to the ingenious connection to the Japanese words Kitto Katsu
which mean "you will surely win", the "good luck" symbol for Kit Kats in Japan was also successfully manufactured and marketed and as a result, Kit Kats have been popular with exam-taking students who seem to want good luck, however they can get it.
Clearly, Nestle must be admired for its efforts to connect with candy fans. And it's particularly brilliant to see them bundle candy bars as good luck charms -- a story that adds intangible value to the otherwise ordinary snacks. Perhaps it's only a matter of time before some artists write some flavor-inspired songs/plays/films and try to sell loooots of Kit Kats, too.