Faced with the clutter and confusion of brand proliferation in the world of ‘functional’ diary drinks, and legislation that has limited the ‘medical’ claims these brands can now make in advertising, Yakult had found itself just one of many interchangeable ‘healthy lifestyle’ brands. To compete with Danone’s big spending Actimel, and give people a clear ‘reason to buy’, Yakult wanted to reclaim in a distinctive and engaging way the scientific credentials that saw it introduce ‘probiotic’ to the UK twenty years earlier.
That Yakult remains a science-led business is distinctive vs. Danone’s dairy background, but not that interesting to people. Far more so is the fact that it is Japanese. This is something the vast majority are unaware of. Yet Japan is very much on trend, and strongly associated with healthy food and healthy living: things we were unable to claim explicitly.
Whether tai chi, feng shui or the latest herbal remedy, western consumers tends to imbue health and wellbeing products from the ‘Orient’ with almost mystical powers that have no real basis beyond their emotional appeal. Being a Japanese brand rooted in scientific research, we had license to poke affectionate fun at these preconceptions. “Where does Yakult come from?” we asked, painting a picture of a magical Oriental world that has bestowed the product with equally magical potency. Well, not from here was the answer: Yakult was actually invented in a lab by Japanese scientists, making it a little bottle of science not magic. This idea of ‘science not magic’ has been executed not just through the line but across the whole of Europe, delivering a fresh new perspective on the brand, executed in a distinctive, emotionally engaging way.
So far, this engaging distinctiveness has successfully driven top of mind brand awareness, and delivered double digit growth in a declining market.