JAPAN: Mobile Internet shakes up Japan

In Japan, mobile Internet services are offering marketers new ways to target specific demographic groups as well as offering consumers easily accessible and fun promotions.

The mobile Internet is adding fizz to Japan’s sales promotion industry.

An innovative promotion designed by Ibex Corporation for Kirin Beverage’s Fire canned coffee has helped the brand become a serious player in the largest sector of Japan’s soft drink industry.

Under a sticker on the can is the URL for a site on NTT DoCoMo’s i-mode service and an eight-digit number that you key in once you reach the site. Once this is done, coffee drinkers can play a high-low card game. Three wins in a row and you can claim a prize.

The gratification of playing and winning that the i-mode connection provides contrasts with the usual routine for on-can promotions, which typically require people to collect stickers and mail them to a redemption centre. Gamblers can play as often as they like, but each attempt requires buying a can of Fire.

The interactive service that the mobile Internet provides quickly engages people in promotions. The Ogilvy “Treasure hunt USA” i-mode promotion for Northwest Airlines lets surfers compete in a trivia quiz to win free tickets to the US. The entrants who registered with Northwest could also win frequent flier miles and other prizes. Over 100,000 people were playing the game after the first week.

There is also added value for brands that use the mobile Internet to target key groups of consumers. Hall’sí a Warner Lambert throat lozenge, has its highest demand in the early part of the year, when the air is at its driest and hay fever is most prevalent. MindShare Japan arranged for the brand to sponsor a specially created pollen alarm and information service on the Weather News Interactive (WNI) service on i-mode. The service delivers location-tailored pollen warnings at a time chosen by users each day.

For cosmetics makers, too, there is beauty on the mobile Internet.

Shiseido.mode gets over a million hits a month, mainly from 10to 29-year-old females. The site enables users who register to get free samples of cosmetics from the Shiseido range. It also has sections for specific groups. For instance, one sub-menu, “Message from the body”, offers beauty advice based on the changing hormone balance during a woman’s menstrual cycle.

L’Oréal’s i-Lancôme site is also used for promotions. One two-week promotion rewarded people who bookmarked Lancôme’s i-mode page with a vanity bag when they bought mascara at a Lancôme outlet. Over half of the customers who participated were new Lancôme customers. Since the brand lacks Shiseido’s universal distribution, I-Lancôme’s Store Locator menu is important in helping consumers find the brand and join the promotions.

J-phone, an i-mode challenger, is to introduce a phone that adds the third dimension to mobile marketing. An advanced graphics engine will enable users to rotate images on a high-resolution colour TFT screen. Initially to be used for games, the technology will also help marketers showcase their wares in the future, according to a J-phone spokesperson.

Latest from Marketing Week

Influencers, consultancies and the recruitment crisis: The key topics of conversation at Cannes Lions

cannes lions

Cannes Lions 2018: Marketers turned out in force to advertising’s biggest annual event. But away from the usual talk of purpose and creativity, some big issues such as the recruitment crisis, how advertising responds to the #MeToo movement and cleaning up the influencer marketing space were discussed.


Access Marketing Week’s wealth of insight, analysis and opinion that will help you do your job better.

Register and receive the best content from the only UK title 100% dedicated to serving marketers' needs.

We’ll ask you just a few questions about what you do and where you work. The more we know about our visitors, the better and more relevant content we can provide for them. And, yes, knowing our audience better helps us find commercial partners too. Don't worry, we won't share your information with other parties, unless you give us permission to do so.

Register now


Our award winning editorial team (PPA Digital Brand of the Year) ask the big questions about the biggest issues on everything from strategy through to execution to help you navigate the fast moving modern marketing landscape.


From the opportunities and challenges of emerging technology to the need for greater effectiveness, from the challenge of measurement to building a marketing team fit for the future, we are your guide.


Information, inspiration and advice from the marketing world and beyond that will help you develop as a marketer and as a leader.

Having problems?

Contact us on +44 (0)20 7292 3703 or email customerservices@marketingweek.com

If you are looking for our Jobs site, please click here