Why Do Japanese Hand Out Free Pocket Tissue? | Guidable - Your Guide to a Sustainable, Wellbeing-centred Life in Japan

Why Do Japanese Hand Out Free Pocket Tissue?

By Yae Jan 29, 2018

This post is also available in: Spanish

Are you a pocket tissue lover?

If you’re heavy user of pocket tissue, some of you may have already felt lucky while you’re staying in Japan since there are many Japanese people who give pocket tissue for free to pedestrians.
It may be unbelievable that people can have pocket tissue for free, but there are certain reasons.

This article will explain to you why Japanese people give pocket tissue for free to people and what for.

1. What Do You Use Pocket Tissue for in Your Daily Life?

Many of you have a box of tissue at your house and use it in various situations.
Blowing your nose, wiping the table, catch/kill small bugs inside, etc.
However, do you normally carry a pocket tissue or Kleenex with you while you’re out?
If you have a nasal inflammation or have a cold, pocket tissue must be a necessary item for you.
Or pocket tissue can be a live saver for wiping out germs or stain if you accidentally get bird poop on you.

Whatever the reason, pocket tissue is a very convenient item to carry with you.
If you buy them, they cost around 100 yen/10 EA at home depots or 100-yen shops in Japan as best price.

What if you can get a pocket tissue for free on the streets when you usually pay for them? If so, have you ever thought “Why pocket tissue?”

2. Strategy for Advertisement by Using Pocket Tissue

“For free” has certain strategies for advertisement by companies.

If you look at the pocket tissue carefully, you can see that there are advertisement papers attached.
This is the real purpose of handing the pocket tissue to people on the streets.
The common shops you can see for advertisements are such as follows:

・ New opened massage boutiques
・ Restaurants
・Gambling machine centres called Pachinko
・Optician’s shops
・Sports clubs
・Cramming schools
・Easy money loans

The companies who run above business are trying to send the message
“These shops are here! Come and join us!”

Normally people hand out pocket tissues in busy areas which are crowded with people all the time such as Shibuya, Shinjuku, and Harajuku in Tokyo.

3. Why do Japanese People Use Pocket Tissue for Advertisement?

As a business trick to use pocket tissue, they’re willing to hand out pocket tissue for free because of certain strategies, which are as follows:

1. Everyone Uses Pocket Tissue All Year Round

Some people hand out ads, but the consumers usually throw those ads away immediately after they get it. The reason is simple. They have no interest in having useless paper, and some people even don’t look carefully at the ads.
However, everyone will be happy if people get pocket tissue for free because they can use it as a necessary living item.

Pocket tissue has a big advantage for peoples’ lives.

2. People Can Remember the Advertisement Contents through Pocket Tissue

If you get a pocket tissue for free, you may start to carry it with you in everywhere.
When you’re out in the coffee shops, restaurants, parks, public bathrooms, or in any situation when you need pocket tissue, you first “See it with advertisement”
It takes a while to finish up whole one pocket tissue, so every time when you use the pocket tissue, you also see the advertisement as well so it’s going to be stuck in your head before you realize it.

Even if you don’t care at first about the advertisement on the pocket tissue, you may change your mind over time.

3. Available for Mass Order During All Seasons

If you’re walking on the streets during summer, sometimes you may see people handing out paper fans to people. This is also the same strategy for advertisement. However, one weak point is that paper fans can only be used in summer, so it has a limited term of effectiveness.
However, pocket tissue can be used in all seasons, so the companies can place a mass order for pocket tissue to reduce the cost.

The companies can also have a big advantage for using pocket tissue.

4. When did Japanese People Start Handing Out Advertisements?

If you go back to the year of 1970, Mizuho Bank (The company name was Fuji Bank at that time) started the distributing advertisements in Japan.
They used matchboxes instead of pocket tissue, and they gave out about 200,000 matchboxes as a small gift to all customers who opened  bank accounts at Mizuho Bank.
Mizuho Bank printed their company name on the matchboxes for advertisement.

This innovative idea lead to the current pocket tissue advertisement.

5. New Kinds of Items Used for These Advertisements

You can now see that Japanese peoples’ giving things away is actually used for strategy, and common items are matchboxs, pocket tissues and paper fans.
Do you know there are more items Japanese people created for advertisement lately?

There are additional items these days:

・Clear plastic files
Many people use them to put the documents and filed them away. Convenient and useful.
・Brand new products on sale such as coffee, soft drinks
If people like the samples, this may be a big chance for companies to have more people buy them.

Do you now see why Japanese people are handing over pocket tissue on the streets?
Certain companies are trying to get people (consumers) to know about their products using pocket tissue.
However, the good point is that this strategy has “WIN WIN SYTLE” that consumers also “win” from getting free tissues.

If you’re walking on the streets in Japan, please watch carefully around you.
You may find people distributing pocket tissue, so why not get one for yourself?