Earlier this week Nepia, one of the nations largest manufacturer and distributor of domestic paper products released a very limited number of what may be the most expensive tissue paper in the world. Nepia very shrewdly made their new product available only through their internet shop at mid night on Friday, by the time the Saturday morning talk shows had picked up on the campaign it was all but over and all 3000 sets had sold out.
Japan has long been know as a place where tissue paper comes cheap, so cheap in fact that there exists an entire industry of handing out of free tissue paper (ティッシュ配り) for advertising. Young men and women, typically with spiked coloured hair and adorned with various body piercings, tissue distributors can be found around any big city in Japan usually around the entrances to train stations.
Given a good location, one of these skilled workers can hand out some 2 to 3 hundred packs of tissue paper an hour, even more impressively this unlikely looking bunch dole out approximately 2.5 billion packets a year or about 20 packs per person in Japan. Despite this seemingly flooded market, Nepia has introduced a line of tissue paper that sells at 3,000 yen for a set of 2 boxes (about 10 yen/tissue). As a comparison my local supermarket sells a set of 5 boxes for 298 yen (about 0.2 yen/tissue).
The new brand is called the ‘Super Celebrity Nose’ (超鼻セレブ), it features a 3 ply tissue with double moisture retention and is perfumed by Verbena, a flower native to the Americas.
Nepia’s official stance is that they will not be selling any more of the ‘Super Celebrity Nose’ line, but judging from the effort that has gone into PR so far as well as its popularity its fair to say that this was ploy to further gain the public’s interest and we’ll see more in stock soon. On a side note, the company’s current campaign “Hana nice day!” advertising for its less exclusive ‘Celebrity Nose’ line of tissues is quiet amusing and well worth a look just to see just how strange Japanese TV can get (CM1, CM2 & my favourite CM3).