Sunday, 19 April 2009

Not 'Extra Special' enough?

What has happened to the Asda Extra Special range of biscuits that the Seiyu department stores were selling? The shortbreads, the choc chip cookies, the hazelnut and chocolate cookies, they have all disappeared from the shelves. I guess they weren't big sellers in Japan. I am not surprised. Although the biscuits themselves were delicious, they were poorly presented for the Japanese market, especially for the price which was Y299 to Y399, depending on the type of biscuit. In the first place, the boxes were unappealing. I often gave the biscuits as presents to friends and colleagues but would have to preface my handing over of the gift with the assurance that they were actually tasty British biscuits. The box might not look good but, trust me, the biscuits inside were delicious. Secondly, the biscuits were not individually wrapped. Once the packet was opened all the biscuits had to be eaten quickly or put in a plastic container. It is not exactly a treat to eat a biscuit out of a plastic box. And the biscuits would have to be stored like this because it would take the average Japanese consumer - by which I mean woman - several weeks to eat one packet of such biscuits. Why? The biscuits are much too large. I could eat one with a cup of tea. Your average Japanese woman would manage a half. Japanese people, as I have said before, eat much less than Brits but they want every mouthful to be enjoyable. They want what they eat to be aesthetically pleasing and ... they don't want to overeat and risk putting on weight. The Japanese are known to be the choosiest of customers. Foreign companies know they have to adapt their products to the Japanese market. Consumers will pay large sums of money but only if they know they are getting value for that money. Seiyu and Asda are part of Walmart. They sell good basic products cheaply. But the Extra Special range may not have appealed to Seiyu's recession-hit bargain hunters. If you want a cheap packet of biscuits you can go to the Japanese Co-op and get biscuits such as my two favourites above. The 'ship' biscuits are Y178, while 'Shall we Dance' are Y248. Teeny biscuits, individually wrapped and packaged in boxes with lids which close. Small treats for morning tea.

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