We have so far visited countries in the western hemisphere and then explored the far reaches of Russia to understand how “freshness” and “fresh positioning” is perceived. Japan represents a set of cultural emotions, colors and flavor preferences all its own. Japan should not be a market taken for granted with a flavor or fragrance profile developed for another country. In fact, many a product has failed in Japan because food developers and marketers have not done proper in-country research. Please take the time to carefully research this market.
Freshness in Japan
Japanese panelists and moderators explored what the concept of “everyday freshness” meant to them from very generalized emotions deeper sensory information.
In terms of setting, to the Japanese consumer “everyday freshness” evoked images of forests, highlands, beaches or the park in the early morning. However, it was not just the setting that was described by the panelists but the activities one is doing; therefore, it was a walk through a park filled with flowers, a sunny day, spring skiing, the sounds of spring (singing birds and gentle winds) or walking up a mountain path.
Regarding food and beverage flavor references, everyday freshness included an interesting range of flavors: Orange juice, fresh fruits, fresh vegetables, ice cream or sorbet, mint flavors, lemon soda, tea and aromatic oils.
Japanese Planet of Freshness
Our panelists were quite specific in the creation of a freshness “planet.” On this planet were fresh feelings, smells, flavors, sights and sounds. In developing a product for the Japanese market, there must be considerations given to satisfy the elements found on the planet.
The People – Friendly people; friends, family, ecologically oriented people, people with white teeth(!), people who don’t stress you out.
Feelings on the Planet – Refreshing, good feelings, calm and happy, no bad things.
How the Planet Looks – Beautiful oceans, clear water, grasses, trees in the sunshine, blue skies.
Smells and Sounds – Lavender smells, herbs, woody, lemon, green leaves and grasses, dripping water and streams, waves, birds signing, leaves rubbing in the wind and ironed clothing.
Animals on the Planet – Dolphins, sheep, alpacas, “Japanese animals.”
The Deeper Elements of Freshness
The responses from the “Japanese Planet of Freshness” were then more carefully refined and combined with the generalized feelings mentioned earlier. What has emerged is a very unique profile.
In terms of an overriding emotion, the expression most often associated with freshness was one of relaxation. Absolute freshness and purity are important to this consumer.
The color associations were specific: greens, such as pale green and dark lime; blues, such as marine blue, along with pale yellow and whites.
Freshness had a texture; it was soft, not hard and this relates directly to flavor preferences: mint and citrus (such as Japanese Yuzu and grapefruit), lemongrass and natural extracts –the flavors must be subtle! Note the animals on the “freshness island” that were soft and gentle. In terms of aroma: eucalyptus, green, “smooth flavors” and again “fresh flavors.” The panelists Japanese preferred simple packaging to go along with the pure, clean flavors.