A Guide to Japan’s New Year “Lucky Bag” Sales

The New Year’s sale is the biggest in Japan. Many retailers make their biggest profit for the financial year at this time by offering highly promoted sales in stores and online. Some of the main department stores open on New Year’s Day, and long queues of keen shoppers are a common sight in shopping malls and on the high street at this time of year. The main attraction of the new year’s sales in Japan? The lucky bag, or “福袋 (fukubukuro)”. A lucky bag usually contains a selection of random selection of goods sold instore, often last season’s products occasionally mixed with some new or limited edition pieces, depending on the price of the bag. The total value of a good lucky bag is usually much more than the cost of the bag, making them a good way to pick up a surprise bargain.

Most retailers sell lucky bags, including those in the fashion, electronics, and food industries, all with varied prices. The bags are sealed to ensure customers cannot see the contents before they buy, with some bags containing far more valuable goods than others. The whole tradition is enjoyed as something of a lucky dip for the new year. Due to the huge popularity of lucky bags in Japan, many global brands have also started selling them to the Japanese market, such as IKEA, McDonald’s and Starbucks. Even Apple has sold lucky bags in the past which generated a lot of buzz and long queues outside their stores at midnight.

In addition to the traditional style of lucky bags, many companies have started trying new things. For example, Starbucks has started an online raffle for their lucky bags from 2018 due to their sheer popularity year on year. Their lucky bags usually contain their original mugs, coffee and so on, and includes items that are exclusive to the lucky bag sale, and not usually sold in-store or online. The raffle starts in November, and only the winners can buy a lucky bag on New Year’s Day. Naturally, the exclusivity and limited supply of the Starbucks lucky bags make for a great marketing technique to generate interest and excitement with both new and long-standing customers.

This tradition isn’t even limited to retail. Other industries have also started implementing marketing strategies using the word “Lucky Bag”. For instance, car companies will sell brand-new cars as a ‘lucky bag’, meaning they sell them at half their original price without revealing the vehicle model. Also, recently major department stores have started selling a new style of lucky bags called “Experience Lucky Bags”. These lucky bags offer a range of experience vouchers for activities ranging from a dinner cruise, to something more special such as a train driving experience, or a training session with a famous footballer. This style of lucky bag has become very popular due to its innovative concept, particularly with people looking to curb spending on material goods.

The keyword search volume for “Lucky Bag” is shown to peak in December, and begins to rise as early as November. Travel companies often begin selling package tours in November for the new year’s holidays, and recently they’ve begun to use the word “Lucky Bag” in ad copy, even more often than the term “New Year’s Sale”, because it implies a huge discount and appears to attract more people. When it comes to end-of-year marketing strategies in Japan, the word “Lucky Bag” is a must. Your New Year’s sales campaigns won’t be the same without it.

When it comes to creating various campaigns and marketing strategies, the Japanese market has a huge amount of potential. Tapping into it with cultural sensitivity and awareness is crucial. Locaria can help you successfully create your overseas marketing campaign to tap into key international markets. Contact us today to find out more about our services.