Japanese Marketing: Buy the Rakuten Kobo Aura H20, Win a Year of Bath Salts!
Getting Your Read on in the Tub
We all (should) know that there are plenty of hyperbolic and off-the-mark generalizations in the laundry list of stereotypes about Japanese people and Japanese society as a whole. But, to be fair, the world’s last massive monoculture does kinda lend itself to generalization, and as such, there are a fair number of stereotypes or truisms that, while perhaps not 100% accurate across the board, ring loudly true enough to be considered fundamental cultural tenets.
Two Largely Accurate Stereotypes about the Japanese:
1. The Japanese love reading (books, newspapers, magazines, manga, the internets, and all hybrids in between); literacy is revered in Japan, and, in the Japanese language, books and other bound media actually have their own denominational suffix (...冊/さつ/satsu); and,
2. The Japanese love to bathe, and not just shower, but soaking in an actual bath; numerous historical records describe Japanese people’s first reaction to Westerners, who were much less with the personal hygiene back in the day, as being firmly along the lines of “Oh my god, Whitey smells like something died in an outhouse.”
They’re both admirable qualities, and the second one even makes Japan’s isolationist-by-law periods seem a bit more reasonable.
Anyway, an intrinsic awareness of these cultural pillars and their heretofore non-combinable status (paper-based reading materials fare poorly in bathing situations) has resulted in what might be - for those looking in from the rest of the world - the domestic tech industry’s goofiest (thus far) marketing effort of 2015:
Buy a Kobo Aura H20 Now and Win a Year of Bath Salts!
The Rakuten Kobo Aura H20 was originally released in October of 2014 in both Canada and Japan (Kobo was originally a Canadian firm, and Japanese e-commerce giant Rakuten snatched them up in 2012). It’s a decent enough little book with a respectable 4GB of internal memory (expandable to 36GB with microSDHC), a 6.8” screen at 1440×1080/265 ppi, and a claimed 7 weeks of battery life under normal use. Perhaps the biggest selling point: with the port cover properly sealed, the e-reader can survive for up 30 minutes fully immersed in a meter of water.
That last point is the crux of Rakuten Kobo’s latest marketing campaign: indeed, if you buy a Kobo Aura H20 between February 19th and 27th at the regular ¥19,980 (~$168.00) price, Rakuten will award you 5 times the usual points one would get with the purchase, AND you’ll be entered in a lottery to win a year’s supply of bath salts, a prized and respected commodity in Japan (no illegal drug connotations on this side of the Pacific).
It’ll be interesting to see how well the campaign does. And hey, considering that Rakuten Kobo aren’t the first to use the bathing angle to sell mobile tech stuff (see the above Thanko product), perhaps we can think about adding a new stereotype to the list - something like:
“A really good path to a Japanese consumer’s tech budget is through the bathtub.”