One of the first things you notice when you come to Japan is the ubiquitous sight of people standing on street corners passing out free packets of tissues. They’re not doing it out of the goodness of their heart – they’re passing out advertising. And where a flyer is likely to be deposited into the nearest receptacle, a free pack of tissues is more likely to be stashed in your purse or pocket, to be enjoyed at the appropriate time. In fact, in a recent survey of 100,000 Japanese consumers, a whopping 76% said that they accept free tissues when offered. And really, why wouldn’t you? They’re FREE! And they’re TISSUES!
But do people actually look at the ads, or do they just use the tissues? Well, of those 76% who said they would take the free tissues, over half said that they look at the ads. That’s a pretty good return for your advertising dollar. In fact, studies have shown that this form of advertising is one hundred times more effective than newspaper advertising.
Although the practice of tissue advertising is spreading to other countries, it is really a Japanese phenomenon. It’s been around since 1969, having been introduced by Mr. Hiroshi Mori, a paper-goods manufacturer, who was looking for a way to sell more of his paper products. It occurred to him that small packets of tissues would be a unique way for companies to advertise, and so he introduced the massive Free Tissue industry that we all know and love here in Japan. So if you’re coming to Japan soon, don’t worry about packing any tissues – they’ll be waiting for you when you arrive!