Kit Kat Cult of Japan

Originally marketed as a chocolate bar for the working man, Kit Kat is now sold in more than 100 countries around the world. One market, however, has elevated the snappable chocolate treat to new heights: Japan.

A recent New York Times article by Tejal Rao titled, “Big in Japan” tells a detailed and fascinating story of how the iconic British brand has become a cultural phenomenon, changing the perceptions about what a candy bar could be.

By taking the chance on a bold strategy, Kit Kat has not only become a national obsession in Japan, but has also attracted a cult-like following around the world. On one level, it is the explosion of adventurous flavour offerings that has made the simple chocolate bars into rare collectables. From strawberry to sake, watermelon to wasabi, matcha to mochi, the brand is constantly exploring ingredients and developing recipes that push the limits. There are also Kit Kat-devoted boutiques that offer a premium experience and sell a luxury version of the product.

Whilst this strategy is certainly audacious, it is also grounded in insight. After the successful launch of its strawberry variant, the marketing team at Nestle Japan recognised the new flavour’s popularity among tourists. This helped them to identify Kit Kat as a potential Japanese souvenir. By embracing this powerful idea and letting their imaginations run wild, the brand not only distinguished itself from other confectionary brands, but catapulted Kit Kat into a league of its own.

Kit Kat’s success in Japan illustrates how insight and inspiration go hand-in-hand, and how the courage to take a different path can make all the difference.

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