Japanese candy company takes a step forward by doing things in reverse
Valentine's Day is just a little more than a week away.
In Japan, the holiday has traditionally been a one-way street, where only women give chocolate or homemade sweets to men (who are expected to return the favor in a Japan-created holiday known as "White Day" that falls on March 14).
However, according to one research study I read recently, something like 20% of Japanese men plan to give presents to women on Valentine's Day this year, and now a couple of Japan's major confectioners have included in their lineups new products targeting male purchasers.
The product shown above is a clever example from Morinaga. Splashed with a blue ribbon that roughly translated says "This year, give in reverse," the package makes a playful appeal to men with English language product copy that's printed backwards.
Trying to get men behind Valentines Day is an interesting new tack for confectioners that may help boost sales. White Day has been around since 1980, and for 10 or 15 years, men generally gave women white chocolate, cookies or marshmallow sweets as thanks for their Valentines gifts. However, in recent years other industries have been imploring men to give more expensive presents, and a lot of gents have stopped purchasing sweets--or have given up celebrating altogether.
Moreover, especially in the 80's and 90's, social convention pressured women to give giri choco, or "obligation chocolate," on Valentines Day--even to co-workers, bosses and classmates they didn't like. In recent years, thanks to pent up resentment, especially towards men who fail to provide return gifts, a lot of women have quit giving giri choco.
With sales down for both Valentines Day and White Day, Japan's confectioners have been feeling the pain. Which is why they're now trying to get both men and women to exchange chocolate on February 14.