Kit Kat: Patience and Local Insight pays off in Japan

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Students in Japan have caused sales of Kit Kat bars to soar, by adopting them as lucky charms. The name of the chocolate bar resembles a Japanese expression – “kitto katsu” – used by students to wish each other luck before exams.

According to Alpha Male, this is the result of a patient 4 year effort:

Year One: Sampling of free bars as “lucky charms” via the hotels where students flock when writing competitive entrance exams.

Year Two: Continue sampling and generate positive press articles.

Year Three: Ads that didn’t look like ads but featured little stories about teachers, mothers, students and the lucky charm.

Year Four: Same type of ads but with real people and their true stories; no product shots, just a little Kit Kat logo in the corner.

Peter Brabeck-Letmathe, CEO of Nestle, deserves some of the credit for such a strongly authentic and local campaign in the era of globalization and global brands. “Show me a ‘global consumer’ and I will show you a ‘global brand'”. “…our products, our brands, and our communications will always stay local in order to stay relevant to the local consumer.”

It’s heartening to see such patience in this era of quarterly results when so many new products are introduced and withdrawn within a year because their manufacturers are impatient to achieve big results fast and ruthlessly cull anything that doesn’t meet this criterion.

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