Nestlé celebrates a century in Japan
Nestlé Japan is marking 100 years in business, its success driven by its ability to adapt its global brands to meet local consumers’ needs. As the company begins its second century, the company is responding to the needs of Japan’s growing elderly population with innovative products.
Recent statistics by the Japanese Health and Welfare Ministry revealed that Japan’s population of 128 million will fall by more than a third by 2060, and about 40% of the population will be over the age of 65.
“Japan faces specific challenges with its ageing and shrinking population,” says Kozo Takaoka, president and chief executive officer of Nestlé Japan. “In many ways Japan is experiencing the challenges we will eventually face elsewhere.
“Innovation is key and as we have seen over the past years, Nestlé Japan is capable of finding innovative ways to meet this new reality.”
Nestlé has widened its appeal to Japanese consumers of all ages by launching unusual KitKat flavours such as black sugar and roasted soy bean flour, wasabi, green tea, cola and lemon soda, and European cheese.
KitKat was first sold in the country in 1973. Nearly 20 years later Nestlé Japan started production of KitKat at its factory in Kasumigaura, Japan.
The company produces speciality and seasonal KitKat bars, which are only available in certain regions of Japan and use flavours specific to the area. For example, KitKat Zunda is a creamy soy bean paste flavour, particular to the Tohoku region. In the Tochigi area, KitKat Tochiotome uses a variety of strawberries from the area, and around the Kyoto, KitKat Maccha includes green tea made by Kyoto’s tea makers.
Nestlé has also acknowledged the traditional custom of giving KitKat bars as tokens of good luck in Japan. The tradition, based on the name KitKat sounding similar to the Japanese phrase ‘Kitto Katsu’, which means ‘surely win’, sees Japanese well-wishers present the chocolate to their friends and loved ones every year, especially for school entrance exams.
In 2009, the brand partnered with Japan Post to create KitKat Kit Mail – specially packaged bars containing the chocolate bar and space for a message. Kit Mail was the first ever ‘post-able’ chocolate in the world sent via post.