Though most Japanese are familiar with and celebrate Christmas and Halloween (as consumers at least), Easter has yet to impinge on the national conciousness in the same way. But it seems that Disney wants to do something about that. Since 2010 the company has been holding the Disney Easter Wonderland event which involves a parade and an egg hunt. So can Disney ignite interest in Easter in Japan?
According to a survey by Trend Souken, awareness of what Easter is all about is highest among women. In a survey of 300 people in their 20s and 30s, 49 percent of women said they had some idea of what Easter was about, compared to just 37 percent of men. However, what they think it’s about has far more to do with Disney’s message than the religious meaning of Easter. When asked what sprang to mind when they heard the word “Easter,” 89 percent checked “eggs.” Other items were “painting colorful eggs” (64 percent); “spring” (46 percent); “rabbit” (32 percent); and “egg hunt” (25 percent).
Religious connotations don’t really register in this survey report, which is good news for marketers. If more Japanese can be made aware of the fluffy side of Easter, then they’ll be more opportunities to sell cute Easter items and experiences. To some extent the market is already there, at least in Tokyo: 30 percent of respondants said that they had purchased such things as chocolate Easter eggs and in terms of Easter events, 23 percent said that they had participated in egg painting.
Though the potential is there for Japan, or at least its major cities, to adopt Easter in the same way that Halloween has been embraced, along with all the yummy sales opportunities that come hand in hand with that, domestic companies have yet to get behind this drive. Disney is leading this push, followed by Baskin Robbins’ Wonderful Easter campaign, offering Easter ice creams that come in an egg-shaped cups and two special Easter ice cream flavors. This year the foreign-owned Peninsula Hotel has also got in on the act and is selling chocolate Easter eggs and chocolate bunnies at its boutique cafe.
And beyond that? Not much is popping up on Pulse’s radar. Though this survey seems to indicate that young Japanese consumers are ready to spend money in the name of yet another foreign tradition, are Japanese companies ready to take the leap of, um, faith.