|My sister forwarded me a recent Japan Times feature on my favorite Japanese promo including some great facts about the phenomenon:
– Four billion packets of free tissues are distributed every year in Japan.
– The concept of tissue-pack marketing was indeed developed in Japan.
– It dates back to the late 1960s, when Hiroshi Mori, the founder of a paper-goods manufacturer in Kochi Prefecture called Meisei Industrial Co., was sniffing around for ways to expand demand for paper products.
Here’s some more great info from the article about why they’re used and why they work, particularly in Japan:
Why would such a range of 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 recent 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. Yet others displayed a very Japanese sense of obligation for having received a gift, giving answers like “sekkaku kubatte kuretakara (because they were so kind to have given me something)” and “yappari moratta ijo minai to shitsurei ni naru ka na to omo tame (given that I accepted them, I figure it would be rude not to look).”