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Low-cost advertisement to right target group on Tissue paper

In Japan and many countries around the world, it is common to receive free samples of stuff to promote buying the actual thing. The costs have not stopped Japanese manufacturers from going all out to encourage potential customers.

Four billion packets of free tissues are distributed every year in Japan.  But why is it that many  Japanese organizations use tissues to promote their message? Because, in Japan, tissue-marketing is a proven and inexpensive way to advertise. For a cost of as little as ¥10 to ¥25 you can get your message directly into the hands of potential customers. What's more, consumers who accept the tissues are likely to actually read your advertisement. If you're lucky, they'll look it over several times before the tissues are used up.

In a 2007 Internet survey of over 100,000 Japanese consumers conducted by Marsh Research, 76 percent said they accept free tissues. (That's a much higher acceptance rate than for leaflets.) When asked if they look at the advertisement accompanying the tissues, slightly more than half said they either "definitely look" or "at least glance at" the advertisement. When asked why, many respondents said they hoped to find a coupon or special offer.

The concept of tissue-pack marketing was indeed developed in Japan. It dates back to the late 1960s, when Hiroshi Mori, the founder of paper-goods factory Meisei Industrial Co., was looking for ways to expand demand for paper products. The most common marketing freebie  before were boxes of matches, often given away by banks and used primarily by women in the kitchen.

Figuring tissues would have wider appeal (because everyone has to blow their nose, and carry insurance against public toilets with no tissues), Mori developed the machinery to fold and package tissues into easy-to-carry pocket-size packs. The new product was marketed only as a form of advertising and wasn't sold to consumers. Even now, pocket tissues hardly exist as a retail category in Japan because everyone expects to receive them for free.

Japan is still the main market for tissue-pack advertising, but the practice is beginning to spread overseas. A subsidiary of Japanese trading giant Itochu International,, introduced tissue marketing in New York in 2005 and now offers it throughout the United States.

"Our first clients were Japanese companies, who were already familiar with the concept, but as awareness of the medium increased, U.S. companies began to adopt tissues as a way to promote their brands," says Adpack's Hiroyuki Fukui. Clients include Commerce Bank, PNC Bank, H.R. Block, Kaiser Permanente and Zagat.

Besides tissues you also often find free stuff in restaurants. As for the free water, it goes without saying. Some small restaurants offer free side dishes or dips. Harimayama - a rice cracker maker based in Hyogo Prefecture - has shops in Fukuoka and Kyoto and has opened its third shop in Tokyo. As part of a promotion, it has been offering its customers rice crackers free of charge, together with coffee and tea.

The popularity of this latest shop in Tokyo has even surprised its owner. About 1,500 to 2,000 customers enjoy the freebie everyday. One tonne of rice crackers are served during the first month of opening. But the store said it has increased sales by 50 per cent due to the prime location of the store.

Keisuke Kawamura, manager, Harimaya Station Tokyo Kasumigaseki, said: "We supply the rice crackers and the customers buy directly from us. There is no middleman. For that reason, we can use quality ingredients, make good products, and can provide them at a reduced price. At the same time, we can return our gratitude."

Another free goodie that comes just naturally in Japan are magazine gifts. Especially teen mags oriented for women offer a wide variety of gifts like towels in summer, small bags, headbands, hair accessorie or even cosmetics. Those are sometimes real brand products as beside's pictures Aesop’s Rose Hair & Scalp Moisturizing Masque that came with MarieClaire Japan.
(The Japan Times)

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