Can anime collaborations pave the future for Japan’s shrinking canned coffee market?
In October, soft drink company DyDo Drinco Inc. issued Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba canned coffee with 28 different collectible designs. They ended up selling over 100 million cans by March 2021.
Mainichi Shimbun interviewed Tomiya Takamatsu, president of DyDo Drinco’s parent company DyDo Group Holdings Inc., about the success of the Demon Slayer cans in the context of Japan’s shrinking canned coffee market. He said, “To be honest, it was a hit beyond our expectations. It was a shock; a very happy one.”
DyDo Drinco sold over 50 million cans within three weeks of the collaboration’s launch. Overall, sales in October 2020 were 1.5 times the amount during the same period in 2019. Takamatsu credited the Demon Slayer IP, not just among the traditional canned coffee demographic of youths and working men, but also among women, children, and even older people.
Traditionally, the market was sustained by working-class men and salarymen who bought canned coffee from vending machines during their smoke break. However, the market has been contracting due to several key factors: the rise of coffee chains such as Starbucks and convenience store self-serve coffee, the decline of tobacco-serving vending machines due to inconvenience caused by regulations, and a rising health consciousness among the population.
Takamatsu said that he has embraced anime collaborations because he “wanted to bring excitement back to canned coffee.” On the other hand, another individual connected with the beverage industry expressed skepticism about the idea, claiming that although collaboration cans are temporarily effective at pulling in customers, the company will have difficulty retaining those consumers after the limited-time period. “For companies, collaborations have their good and bad sides; they’re a double-edged sword. You could say they’re like a drug.”
In response to such points, Takamatsu stated: “It’s not the case of building a peak [with a hit product] and then returning to the way it was before, but rather thinking, even if it does fall back to a certain level, how do we retain new customers? If we can increase our base, then even without putting out quite so many [collaboration can ranges], we should be able to maintain a certain basic level [of sales].”
Source: Mainichi Shimbun