The Battle To Decide the Fate of Canned Coffee Hinges on TV Commercials and Collaborations! | FRIDAY DIGITAL

The Battle To Decide the Fate of Canned Coffee Hinges on TV Commercials and Collaborations!

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Georgia,” “Boss,” “Wanda,” “Fire,” “Dairy Blend,” “Pokka Coffee,” “UCC”…

Smoke-free, sugar-free boom, and the rise of convenience store coffee…… battle of ideas for survival is heating up

A man in work clothes opens the door of his old apartment and turns his face to the morning sun, looking a little dazzled. After taking a deep breath, he walks quickly to a small vending machine. He puts in the coins he has taken out of his pocket, selects the same canned coffee as usual, and heads for his car. He drinks it all in one gulp before starting the engine, and then heads off to his work.

The film “Perfect Days” (released on December 22, 2011), directed by German master Wim Wenders (78) and starring Koji Yakusho (68), begins with a scene like this. For the protagonist, a toilet cleaner in the Shibuya district, who goes about his daily routine in an unassuming and peaceful manner, a can of coffee in the morning is an important part of his morning routine.

There are various theories about the origin of canned coffee, but it is generally said that UCC Coffee with Milk was launched by UCC in ’69. This product struggled when it was first released, but became an explosive hit at the 1970 Osaka World’s Fair. The company aggressively promoted the product to restaurants at the Expo site and succeeded in raising awareness of canned coffee.

In 1972, Pokka Lemon (now Pokka Sapporo Food & Beverage) launched Pokka Coffee. Pokka Coffee, on the other hand, is a “coffee drink.

The first “Sukairaku” family restaurant opened in 1970, and McDonald’s arrived in Japan in 1971. As Japanese dining tables became more Westernized, the share of canned coffee expanded. Since then, canned coffee has been widely accepted as a drink for working people. Today, however, the canned coffee industry is facing an unprecedented crisis. Mr. Takai continues.

The popularity of PET bottle containers and the sugar-free boom have led to an increase in the popularity of tea and mineral water soda. The decline in the number of vending machines installed is also a major factor in the drop in canned coffee sales.’ After peaking at about 5.6 million units in 2000, the number has continued to decline, falling to about 4 million units in ’20.

The shift away from cigarettes is also related. The good combination of cigarettes and coffee supported the ″demand for a smoke,″ but the expansion of the health boom has led to fewer smokers and more people drinking tea and water.” Another significant factor was the flow of consumers to convenience store coffee, which became popular in the 1910s.”

The canned coffee industry in Reiwa, which is facing headwinds, is sharply divided between the two major players, Coca-Cola’s Georgia and Suntory’s Boss, and the manufacturers that are chasing them.

The biggest factor supporting Georgia’s dominance is the large number of Coca-Cola vending machines installed. The number of vending machines varies depending on the counting method, but it is said to be as high as 760,000 and as low as 980,000. This is about twice as many as Suntory, the second largest company in the industry.

When Georgia was launched in 1975, there was a strong yearning for America. Coke was all the rage as the drink that symbolized America. Georgia was next to Coca-Cola in the vending machines at that time,” says Takai.

In the 1960s, when the number of Coca-Cola vending machines began to decline, Coca-Cola changed its marketing strategy, which relied on vending machines, and began to focus more on quality improvement. Mr. Takahiro Ezawa, a beverage expert, explains.

In 2002, they launched the “Georgia European” series in collaboration with Sarutahiko Coffee. Currently, ‘Georgia Aroma Black’ is a hit.

The key to the success of “Aroma Black” is the shape of the container. It is the recently popular bottled can type, which gives off the aroma of freshly brewed drip coffee when the screw cap is opened.

In addition, since the diameter of a bottled can is wider than that of a regular can, the aromatic coffee hits the entire tongue, making it easier to perceive the flavor. Coca-Cola’s technical ability to incorporate this small change into their products is indeed impressive.”

Asahi Soft Drinks has been using popular comedians such as Beat Takeshi in its “Morning Shot” commercials since around 2004. The company’s commercial strategy of using the brightest celebrities of the time, such as AKB48, which was at the height of its popularity at the time, as the overall main character from 2011 to 2004, created an era for the company….

Suntory, on the other hand, took advantage of its strengths in beer and Western-style alcohol to make Boss a hit.

Suntory’s sales force is based on its ability to develop well-balanced products, such as using imported Western liquors to create easy-to-drink products and organizing cocktail awards to unite bartenders.

Suntory, which is also strong in marketing and branding, succeeded in impressing the company’s coffee as ‘the working man’s partner’ with a commercial featuring Tommy Lee Jones (77),” said Ezawa.

Koji Yakusho, who plays the role of a blue-collar worker in the Boss commercial, also drinks a can of Boss coffee in the film at the beginning.

Like Boss, Asahi Soft Drinks’ “Wanda” gained popularity with its impressive commercials.

The Wanda commercial features Tiger Woods (48). Launched in 1997, it did well until around ’05, coinciding with Tiger’s heyday, but sales dropped along with his slump.

In ’05, the “Morning Shot” commercial featuring Yukie Nakama (44) attracted attention, but when the drama “Gokusen” (NTV), which aired in the same year, ended, Wanda’s presence also faded …… The pattern has been repeated. Currently, Asahi Soft Drinks is focusing more on carbonated drinks such as “Wilkinson” and “Mitsuya” rather than coffee.

Kirin, which makes “Fire”, is also focusing more on its plasma lactobacillus business, such as “iMUSE Immuno-Care Water”, than on coffee. In addition, Kirin has the dominant top brand in the tea category, Afternoon Tea, so canned coffee has a slightly lower priority,” said Takai.

On the other hand, Ito En, which acquired Tully’s in 2006, has succeeded in creating popular products through strong collaboration.

The bottled can type Tully’s Coffee is probably the only successful example of canned coffee bearing the name of a famous coffee chain. Starbucks has teamed up with Suntory, but not as closely as Tully’s, a subsidiary of Ito En. By jointly developing coffee, rather than producing it on consignment, we succeeded in recreating the world view of Tully’s stores,” said Takai.

To counter the trend away from canned coffee, DAIDOH LIMCO is aiming to attract a younger demographic through collaborations with popular anime.

The company has been steadily collaborating with anime hits of the year, such as “Tokyo Revengers,” “Jutsu Kaisen,” and “Oni no Kane” (“Blade of the Demon”). In addition to Daidoh, Wanda collaborated with “One Piece” and Boss with “SPY x FAMILY. You don’t see many collaborative products in other soft drinks, but canned coffee, which is often drunk to relax, is probably more playful,” said market advisor Hideo Amano.

Will the commercials featuring the stars firmly capture the support of workers, or will unique collaborations attract new customers? The battle for survival in the canned coffee industry is a rather hot one.

Jones has appeared in the “Spaceman Jones’ Earth Survey Series” of Rainbow Mountain commercials since April ’06.
Koji Yakusho also participated in Suntory’s “Earth Survey Series. He may be the man who looks best with canned coffee in Japan right now.
Takayuki Yamada (40) appears in a number of Coca-Cola’s “Georgia” commercial series. He plays a variety of people in different occupations.

From the February 16, 2024 issue of “FRIDAY

  • Photo Afro, Sankei Shimbun

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