Fun facts about pocket tissue ads in Japan

By Michelle

If you’ve ever visited a big city in Japan, you’re sure to have seen a bored looking 20-somethings passing out free tissues with colorful advertisements inserted into them. Upon receiving these pocket tissue advertisements, you probably thought, “Hey, cool, free tissues,” and continued on your way.

But pocket tissue advertisements have been around in Japan for over 40 years now, and are a surprisingly effective form of advertising. Let’s take a look at some fun facts about this unique marketing strategy in Japan.

Fun facts about pocket tissue advertisements

-- The first appearance of pocket tissue advertising was in 1969. This form of advertising is almost exclusively seen in Japan.

-- The majority of pocket tissue advertising is for loans and consumer credit.

Unlike advertisement flyers, which are immediately thrown away, pocket tissue advertisements are usually kept until all tissues are used up. Since consumers keep pocket tissue advertisements for a long time, studies have shown that they have a deep psychological impact on the brain, influencing shoppers to choose the familiar brand or company advertised on the packages.

-- Some businesses choose to attach free drink or discount coupons to the tissues as well.

-- For companies who use pocket tissue advertising, using tissues of higher quality is said to create a better company image.

Why do companies use this type of advertising?

-- Inexpensive - Pocket tissue advertising is relatively inexpensive. Companies only have to pay for the costs associated with purchasing tissues and pay one person to stand in a busy area and pass them out.

-- Efficient - It is an efficient way to advertise to a target market. A beauty salon might only choose to hand out pocket tissue advertisements to women, realtors to families who have children, etc.

-- Effective - Recent data suggests that pocket tissue advertising is 100 times more effective than advertising in the newspaper.

If pocket tissue advertising is so effective, why is this form of advertising decreasing?

-- Decreased advertising budget - Due to the economic recession, corporations and small businesses have less money for sales promotions.

-- Fewer opportunities to use tissues - Many companies are creating products that replace the use of tissues, such as makeup removal cloths and soft cloths for eyeglasses. This reduces the utility of tissues and has prompted companies to think of other more useful products to place advertisements on.

Are tissues outdated?

In recent years, companies are choosing to hand out advertisements printed on products other than tissues. Plastic uchiwa fans in the summer, hot pads in the winter, ballpoint pens, bags, and other practical goods that are more useful to consumers and can be used longer than tissues are starting to be handed out on the street.

What do you think about this form of advertising? Do you get annoyed by people constantly thrusting tissues with gaudy advertisements in your hands or do you appreciate the freebies?

Source: Matome Naver

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The majority of adverts in these packs of tissues are trying to get young girls into prostitution.

-3 ( +3 / -6 )

Why get annoyed? If you don't like it, ignore it. That's how the Japanese seem to handle it.

1 ( +3 / -1 )

I love the free tissues! Such a useful giveaway, especially during spring!

-1 ( +4 / -4 )

I like the free tissues,and always accept them. I usually chuck out the advertising paper,because it adds unnecessary bulk in my bag. I used to wonder why I was offered tissues at some times, but not at others, until I realised that some tissue ads are aimed at only men, others at only women.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

When I was in Tokyo in march 2010, I was grateful for tissues and I had a runny nose. Didn't noctise the ads though too busy looking at the sites lol

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I like the tissues, too. The size of the packaging is less bulky than North American options and slip easily into a pocket or handbag. (Though Kleenex brand is now offering the same style for about $2 a package. Highway robbery.) I much prefer the free version. And as jonobugs points out, if you don't like them you can ignore the offer as the locals do.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I don't get tissues handed to me often. Those I have gotten in the past were either for contacts or for eikiawa.

Years ago I was given a plastic bag with a thick booklet inside by a smiling young girl. Turned out to be a guide to the city's brothels. Had to quickly find a bicycle basket to throw it into.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

I hate these tissues because of all the jerks standing in front of the station slowing down peoples commute.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

J-List uses it. We print it in Japan and ship it to cons in the U.S., people love them.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

A brothel guide on pocket tissues? Brilliant!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

The pack that is inserted into higher quality tissues means a better company. I didn't care of the quality of that at all. It is very interesting fact. The tissue wonderland LOL.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Hi Michelle, It's great how you have included the fun facts about tissue advertising. You have elaborated every aspect of that very well. It would be lovely if tissue advertising is used on other countries as well. I'm sure it has many advantages and its unbelievable how it hasn’t spread to other developed countries yet.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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