ESM: A Year In Retail – Yakult: Message In A Bottle, Issue 6, 2019
In Japan, Yakult is more than just a cultured milk drink – it’s a part of the culture itself. Stephen Wynne-Jones travelled to Tokyo to meet Hiroshi Narita, senior managing executive officer at parent firm Yakult Honsha Co Ltd. This article first appeared in ESM Issue 6, 2019.
Ask a typical Western consumer to think of a famous Japanese brand, and they will inevitably conjure the names of countless technology or automotive firms – Honda, Mitsubishi, Panasonic, Toyota. Those partial to a tipple might also give the nod to drinks giants Asahi or Suntory.
But when it comes to the food sector, few brands from the Land of the Rising Sun have had as much impact as Yakult, a product that helped to develop consumer understanding about probiotics and pave the way for the current ‘gut health’ movement.
It is a brand rich in what the Japanese call ikigai – loosely translated as ‘what makes life worth living’ – which puts the well-being of its consumer base ahead of the need to satisfy shareholders’ thirst for profits.
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