Matsukiyo is Japan’s largest drugstore chain, with branches in every town and city district. Over several years, we worked with Matsukiyo to reinvent the company as a trend-setting drugstore brand, raising the chain upmarket and associating it with modern ways of thinking and living.
In Japan, toilet paper is shameful. When people buy it, the cashier hides it in a large non-see-through plastic bag for the journey home. Matsukiyo decided to change Japanese perceptions from the bottom up.
From something to hide, we made toilet paper a fun and beautiful feature. An accessory. Something you show off on the journey home. Something to make other people look. We took 12-packs of paper and boldly redesigned them, wrapping the rolls in eye-opening graphics that are a world away from traditional toilet paper packaging, including photos of a baby, a beatbox, a bag of vegetables, and a ripped six-pack. Instead of traditional text telling people how many sheets of one-ply or two-ply are included, the packages encouraged purchasers to dance and sing, to be extrovert, to celebrate their paper. We took one of Matsukiyo’s flagship stores in the center of Tokyo and covered it floor to ceiling with the new paper, right there on the sidewalk. Then we watched and recorded how people reacted.
The packs flew off the shelves — they were gone inside 6 minutes. The reactions of shoppers was overwhelmingly positive, sparking (for the first time!) open conversations about toilet paper on the streets of Tokyo. People loved the paper and felt an instant connection with it. As a result, Matsukiyo is now selling the redesigned toilet paper in all 3,500 stores in Japan — surely the biggest “roll out” toilet paper has ever seen!