New Highs In Japan’s Tissue Paper Culture

supertissue.jpgEarlier 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 outpiled high 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).

9 thoughts on “New Highs In Japan’s Tissue Paper Culture”

  1. That’s weird. Why wouldn’t they want to produce more if it has sold out so quickly? Someone should send these guys to a Keizaigaku 101 class at Hitotsubashi.

  2. Gourmet, there’s more to making money than just selling tissues. This just got (probably) billions of yen in publicity. I assume it was a well thought out campaign to sell more of there “less exclusive” Celebrity Nose tissues. Maybe.

  3. Ha, This is definitely a feature of everyday Japan that deserves a mention! though my image is one of young girls in long primary colored jackets or minis handing out the tissues….(guess I ignore the others!)

    I always wondered why japanese homes had boxes and boxes of tissues and all obaasans always come back from shopping with bags of a dozen rolls of loo paper at a time….I finally fiqured out that all chicks here need half a roll of TP to disguise their peeing sounds and the guys use all the box tissues after listening!

    Admitedly I am now a convert to tree wasting , dioxin producing (during bleaching process), environmentally unfriendly use of hundreds of tissues . They are great for every function around the house. But still do feel a wee selfconscious when purchasing TP in those 12 roll clear plastic bags.

  4. What are the advertising for Kiwi Dave? Do they make anything else besides tissues?
    I was just thinking:

    3,000 boxes x 3,000 yen per box is only 9 million yen.
    I don’t know what there cost base is but even if it is low (who knows how much Verbena costs??) but surely the cost of the CM and purchasing the TV spot time alone must have been pretty high. A lot of time, cost and effort on a pretty small revenue line.

  5. well gourmet when you get 100million japanese suddenly wanting your tissues the flow on profits are phenomenal……itys actually quite surprising how people remember and watch out for ads here…even news channels comment on them

  6. bring on the trees …. did anyone actually calculate the damages done to the environment, any study at all? Just wondering.

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