In 1975, the famous French psychologist, Clotaire Rapaille, gave a speech at a local university in Paris.
When the speech ended and everyone was disbanding, a Nestle associate approached him. This associate had a problem that Clotaire never encountered.
Western companies took advantage of the Japanese market to develop. However, while other companies were consistently profitable, Nestle failed and their team became increasingly desperate.
They tried to bring Nestle coffee to Japan. They develop a very good product. The coffee is affordable and the customer trial delivered the results we expected. However, sales continued to decline.
Clotaire used to be a leading researcher on emotional connections with objects.
They offered Clotaire quite a bargain and took him to meet Nestle’s marketing team in Japan.
Clotaire did the research.
He gathered a lot of participants and did some wacky experiments. Once, he let all participants lie on the ground. He plays soothing music and asks them to recount their first childhood memories. He then asked them to describe their experiences with different products and their feelings for them.
Then, when he asked the participants to do the above experiment with a coffee product, he did not get any response. Most people have no memory of coffee. They have never taken it and therefore have no emotional connection to it. Why so?
Because in Japan they drink tea, this is a habit from thousands of years ago. Coffee exists only in a small scope in Japanese culture.
This is a breakthrough moment. And it was the same idea that drove the following idea, it was one of the boldest marketing moves of the 20th century.
Instead of throwing stakes of money into advertisements to convince Japanese citizens to have coffee, they have adopted a longer-term strategy.
They focused on coffee-flavored sweets sold to children. According to Clotaire’s instructions, they need to make children love the taste of Nestle from an early age. Not only does this allow them to know their taste, but it also gives a mark on the flavor. They will associate coffee with positive emotions.
Each of us has experienced indelible marks. For example, I have very positive associations with water slides and water parks. I spent my childhood summers playing here in Florida.
This signature strategy is also a good idea as Nestle is incidentally very good at making candies. The Swiss company has proven to be dominant in markets around the world.
They tested, produced, and shelved coffee-flavored candies. They immediately became extremely popular among young Japanese.
The popularity of these coffee candies also had a side effect on parents, who tried coffee-flavored candies out of curiosity.
Years later, Nestle re-entered the Japanese market with a new wave of coffee products. This time, the results were very different.
Many of their “candy” customers are now of working age. They were caffeine consumers and worked long hours. Nestle has launched instant coffee products to make it easy for everyone to make at home and at work.
Nestle is no longer doing detour marketing. Their instant coffee is a monster that quickly dominates the market.
Today, Nestle is one of the leading brands in the market with an import of 500 million tons of coffee per year. Decades ago, they could barely sell even a cup of coffee.
It all starts with a desperate test that requires a bit of patience. But again, they have proven that the road to sales is built through strong emotional relationships with customers.