Meeting Kawaii Characters at the Convenience Store
If there’s anything the hearts of Japanese people belong to, it would be characters. From Kumamon to Hello Kitty to Doraemon, there is a plethora of mascots that have timelessly endeared people of all ages and genders. Japan’s love for characters runs deep into their everyday life, with the constant incoming of merchandise that tickle their hearts and open their wallets.
The convenience store, where people stream in and out at all hours of the day, is one of the easiest places to find your favorite characters. Japanese convenience store franchise chains often do collaborations with the makers behind popular characters to produce goods that people would want to buy. Whether it’s snacks, stationery or kitchenware, there is always a demand for a product when it comes with the endearing face of a character.
The jelly mug has been a popular collaborative item recently, with characters ranging from Snoopy to Rilakkuma. At just a few hundred yen, you can get a delicious fruit jelly for a refreshing snack and keep the decorative mug cup. It’s highly effective marketing; customers naturally see the value (and cuteness) of their purchase. Wouldn’t you want a sturdy Rilakkuma mug to use at home?
The potency of this marketing strategy is often tied to another part of Japanese people’s nature—their love for limited time goods. These campaigns typically don’t last more than a fixed period of time, so it gives customers a certain sense of urgency to get their hands on exclusive goods and snacks. It also means the lineup is constantly refreshed, so excitement is drummed up for future character collaborations. Sometimes it’s a special anniversary, like the Kirby 25th Anniversary campaign held at popular convenience store chain Lawson from July 4 2017. The campaign offers special Kirby-themed sweets and a whole range of goods including pouches and a table.
You can always count on finding something new at the convenience store. How often do you see Mickey and Minnie Mouse turned into wagashi (Japanese confectionery)? The best part is, it only cost ¥270. The affordable price is surprising for something so delicately made, but that’s what makes these character collaborations so attractive. You can just drop by a convenience store on your way home, and pick up fun and special goods anytime.
Characters are an important part of making everyday life in Japan fun. Even in the midst of a fast-paced environment, there’s always time to enjoy picking out “kawaii” products with familiar faces on them. Plus, instead of just being limited to food, there’s always a huge variety of lifestyle goods that are useful at home or work. The creativity in these small things can go a long way to brighten up your life when you’re in Japan!
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