Chocolate is no longer just a gift in Japan as consumers are increasingly enjoying going for chocolate shopping as part of Valentine’s Day festivities. This evolution of consumers’ behavior represents a massive opportunity for chocolate brands and major department stores alike, says leading data and analytics company GlobalData. Earlier, Valentine’s Day is typically seen as a day during which girls and women give chocolates to boys or men as a means of expressing love, or to male colleagues as a courtesy. However, the recent trends clearly show that buying chocolates has become a fun event for Japanese consumers. Some Japanese consumers even enjoy ‘studying’ chocolate as part of their selection process. As a result, several chocolate brands and major department stores are organizing special events to promote their selection of chocolates in the run-up to Valentine’s Day.
Mitsue Konishi, Innovation Analyst at GlobalData, comments: “Salon du Chocolat Tokyo is one such an annual trade fair for the international chocolate industry, which is generally held in late January, targeting Valentine’s Day sales. The event allows chocolate enthusiasts to buy an official guidebook to study brand history, chocolatiers’ characters and skills, and the source of ingredients. “ To capitalize on the trend, major department stores such as Matsuya Ginza and Ginza Mitsukoshi have come to the forefront for Japan’s Valentine’s Day. Matsuya Ginza has built a ‘chocolate room’ in which visitors can use an augmented reality app to take unique photos and share with Social Network Service. Ginza Mitsukoshi has created a ‘magical chocolate house’ to showcase its ‘photogenic’ chocolates. According to a survey held by Japan’s confectionery giant Meiji, 27% of Valentine’s Day chocolate shoppers buy chocolates for themselves. Retailers try to target these consumers (largely female consumers) offering feminine design and ‘photogenic’ chocolates. Some consumers buy ‘good looking’ chocolates for uploading onto Instagram. “The evolution of Japan’s Valentine’s Day chocolate marketing demonstrates that chocolates are certainly an attractive products for enticing Japanese consumers, but how retailers and brands emotionally connect with shoppers via the shopping experience will be the key to winning Japan’s Valentine’s Day chocolate craze,” concludes Konishi.