Nestle’s creativity in targeting Kit Kat to the Japanese market may go down in marketing case studies as one of the most creative examples of local marketing.
Nestle‘s creativity in targeting Kit Kat to the Japanese market may go down in marketing case studies as one of the most creative examples of local marketing. The brand has become the No. 1 confectionery brand in Japan by launching 19 unique varieties of Kit Kat – available only in Japan – which reflect the local produce and palate of each region. Flavors include miso, soy sauce (the most popular flavor nationwide), and green tea, as well as more regional flavors like yubari melon and baked corn from Hokkaido island to yuzu fruit and red potatoes from Kyushu island at the southern-most tip of the country. Nestle has turned the limited edition Kit Kat bars’ packaging into souvenirs for travelers by selling each flavor only in the region for which it was created.
Nestle and JWT, Kit Kat’s advertising agency in Japan, were also smart to identify – and capitalize on – the very happy coincidence that Kit Kat (a brand name originating out of the UK) translated into Kitto Katsu in Japanese, which literally means “surely win”. The brand realized that this represented an opportunity to pair the product with the tradition of sending students good luck wishes before they take tough higher-education entrance exams.
As we discussed last June, what resulted was a Media Grand Prix award-winning campaign at last June’s Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival. The brand partnered with Japan’s postal service to create “Kit Kat Mail”, a post-office exclusive product that could be mailed to students as an edible good-luck charm. Japan’s post offices were decorated with a cherry blossom theme to coincide with the nation’s annual exam period.
Nestle and Kit Kat have selected one of the most ubiquitous and effective strategies in marketing (and human nature) for building curiosity and encouraging immediate action – by creating limited availability (or the perception thereof). Many of the flavors are introduced for a limited time only, then quickly taken off the market. Unsold inventory is collected and resold in “Happy Bags” during major gift-giving periods in Japan, such as New Year.
Creativity, understanding the local market and an insightful approach to its promotions strategy have also defined Kit Kat’s success in Japan.