Thursday, 18 June 2009

Tissue Pack Marketing

One of the more clever concepts in awareness marketing in Japan is starting to get attention in the United States, advertising on the front of small packs of tissues. Tissue-pack marketing is a type of guerrilla marketing. Companies hire agencies to distribute small tissue packages with advertisements inserted in them. These tissue packs are then handed out at crowded city areas to various types of passersby. Some target only men or women, depending on the product/service advertised.

Advertising agencies have stuck logos on just about everything imaginable, but how many times in the winter do you wish you had a small packet of tissues handy to take care of a runny nose?

This concept creates an authentic value exchange with the customer – the advertising is giving something to the customer and in return the customer has the option of reading the advertisement, possibly many times. According to an article in Japan Times, over four billion tissue packs are handed out in Japan every year.

An internet survey of over 100,000 consumers show that 76% will accept the tissue packs, with over 50% saying that they’ll definitely look at the ad. One possible reason for this increased statistic when compared to fliers is that consumers were hoping to find coupons or special offers packaged inside with the tissues. In terms of appeal, tissue packs are more welcome than flyers and are more likely to be retained by the recipent.

The concept of tissue-pack marketing was first developed in Japan. Its origins date back to the late 1960s when Hiroshi Mori, the founder of a paper-goods manufacturer in Kochi Prefecture called Meisei Industrial Co., was looking for ways to expand demand for paper products. At the time, the most common marketing freebie in Japan was boxes of matches. These were often given away at banks and then used by women in the kitchen.

Mori figured tissues would have even wider appeal than the matches, and as a result he 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 was not sold to consumers.

Where the more traditional flyers are often discarded without being read or simply not accepted by the consumer, the same is not true of advertising tissue-packs. The most important reason for this is because the tissues add functionality to the advertisement. This functionality has several benefits:

  1. It is more than an ad. It is useful to the recipient. Bundled value asset (tissue paper) facilitates initial acceptance of ad message. It may also increase overall retention.
  2. It is persistent. The message usually stays with the consumer for the lifespan of the pack: there is continual and repeated exposure over a period of time.

Japan is still the main market for tissue-pack advertising, but the practice has begun to spread overseas. In the United States, a subsidiary of the Japanese trading company Itochu,, introduced tissue-pack marketing in New York in 2005 and now offers it throughout the country.

A tissue pack isn’t the only asset you can use. The basic strategy is to tag a marketing message to a portable functionality that extends its lifespan and value.

More to Read : Guerrilla Marketing

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