Strategies & Insights

A Whole Lotte Innovation

Posted: August 6, 2009 by
Lynn Dornblaser

It's simple, functional, and attractive. And it's from Japan. At Mintel, we discover more truly unique packages in Japan than probably anywhere else on the globe. That trend is driven somewhat by the differences in Japanese culture. Unique products—in look, feel, and taste—are highly prized. In addition, many products are on the market for a very short time. Therefore, it is essential that any new introductions find a way to stand out from the crowd. And, as we know, that can most often by accomplished by innovative or unique packaging.

That's what we see here with this gum packaging from the Lotte Company in Japan. Plus X gum is a fruit-flavored gum sweetened with xylitol (which helps prevent tooth decay). The company has had this gum on the market previously, but not in this package. This petite bottle package is positioned as being small enough for women's handbags. The size is also a convenient shape and stability for travel in a car, for in-reach handiness on a desk, or for "throw it in a bag" portability.

Note, too, that this gum package is sold only in convenience stores and railway stations, reinforcing the on-the-go intent of the product and package. The pastel colors of the bottles reflect the flavors inside—pale purple for the grape flavor, acid green for the kiwi flavor, and a yellow-peach for the grapefruit flavor.

In terms of package functionality, the soft plastic bottle opens for the first time quite easily, with a tear-off strip that is about half of the circumference of the bottle. The hinged lid easily opens with one hand, and the user then shakes out the gum pieces, which are similar in shape and size to Chiclets. The lid snaps shut snugly with a Tupperware-like confidence, but also stays open during dispensing because an extra tab in the lid provides resistance to prop it open.

Like most gum packages in Japan, Plus X has one additional feature not yet seen in the U.S. market. Inside the bottle is a small packet of what appear to be Post-It notes. They are about twice the dimensions of the gum pieces. As is common in the Japanese market, these small pieces of paper are intended to be used to dispose of the gum sanitarily once it has lost its flavor.

The package is simple, attractive, functional, and elegant. All these factors make it a real "Wow" for first-time users.

Lynn Dornblaser is the director of the Custom Solutions Group at Mintel International. She can be reached at 312-932-0400 or