New designs as buyers seek good-looking items

Japan news June 2017

Household goods have a better chance of selling when they help to make the home look better in the eye of the beholder. Aera reported on 17 April that household product manufacturers’ efforts to wreath their items in attractive containers have been paying off. It seems that if attractively designed, even goods for everyday use, such as dispensers for liquid hand sanitizer, can be appreciated as part of the home interior. Photos by users of such products, posted on Instagram, are playing a role in spreading the word.

Aera focused on several examples, such as the sales success of Resesh deodoriser, which Kao Ltd. offers in an elegant dispenser, with its pump colour-coordinated with the pattern on the container.

In addition to the claims of the products’ quality, these package designs may make it easier to sell them online as a result of their attractive appearance on a screen.

“Simple designs will match a room’s interior”, Miyoko Kimura, an executive director at ASKUL Corporation, told the magazine, adding, “We had been thinking for some time that such designs could be expected to appeal to online shoppers”.

The term for this phenomenon is pake-kai, meaning a purchasing decision influenced by the item’s packaging (pakeji in Japanese; abbreviated to pake). Its predecessor was jake-kai, meaning the purchase of a record, CD, DVD or book based on the jacket, or sleeve. The main target for such products is said to be women in their 30s and 40s.

Even the toilet is not being disregarded—the external packaging of toilet tissue is getting an upgrade with products such as Kibako. Developed through collaboration between Oji Nepia Co., Ltd. and ASKUL, the wrapping resembles—as the Japanese name implies—a wooden box.

“More people are willing to pay a little more for a product based on its design”, pointed out Kotaro Nuriya, head of Kao’s home care business group. “With the current popularity of home furnishing firms such as Ikea and Nitori, we had been under the impression that more consumers were looking not only at fashionable designs, but also for items whose appearance fits the needs of their personal lifestyles, and we realized this is how far it’s come”.