China Food

How to win the college entrance examination marketing war? Take a look at the high scores of Nestle, Meiji and Otsuka pharmaceutical!

In the national college entrance examination, how can food brands seize the attention and take advantage of the situation?

By Giselle Yin

Source: foodaily daily food (id:foodaily)


The college entrance examination in 2022 will arrive as scheduled.


This year, 11.93 million candidates nationwide signed up for the college entrance examination. The college entrance examination has always been a major event of national concern. College entrance examination candidates at the most critical stage of life are also one of the most concerned groups. All walks of life will provide help and cheer for college entrance examination candidates in their own way.


For example, in the food industry, Mengniu has launched the “college entrance examination question milk”, Wanglaoji has launched the “college entrance examination big auspicious pot”, six walnuts have launched the “Confucius Temple blessing pot” at the 100 day countdown to the college entrance examination, and some time-honored Chinese pastry brands have launched the “Dingsheng cake”, which means to win the prize for the examinees.


Photo source: Wanglaoji’s official microblog, Mengniu Dairy’s official microblog, Xianghe Bobo shop’s official microblog


Not only in China, but also in Japan, the college entrance examination candidates have also received high attention and care from the whole society. The food brand KitKat has triggered the trend of “candidate assistance products / marketing”, which has lasted for 20 years since 2003.


According to foodaily’s global insight, we found that in the Japanese market, the “examinee assistance” marketing of Nestle KitKat, Meiji and Otsuka pharmaceutical calory mate is very characteristic. Therefore, today we will use these three brands as examples to introduce why the “examinee assistance” in Japan began to emerge from the food brand and became successful, even developed into a practice? What are the specific forms of assistance? What kind of consumer insight is behind it?


Nestle KitKat:

Inspired by consumers’ spontaneous purchase,

Geely homophonic candidates’ aid commodities have gradually become a common practice


In Japan, the peak sales season of chocolate products is from February to march during the Valentine’s day period, but only the peak sales season of KitKat appears in December to January, that is, during the college entrance examination in Japan, KitKat is regarded as a kind of amulet by the majority of examinees and becomes a unique presence in the chocolate industry.


The reason why KitKat can obtain this unique position among the examinee group and even develop the “examinee assistance” into a practice in the food industry is that although there are some accidental factors, it is still inseparable from the brand’s consumer insight.


Insight into unique needs from consumer behavior, “test marketing” has become KitKat’s differentiated selling point


The opportunity for KitKat to launch test marketing actually came from the spontaneous purchase and communication of consumers.


In the late 1990s, I do not know why, in Kyushu, Japan, the sales volume of KitKat only increased significantly from December to January. After learning about the unknown situation, the regional leader found that the pronunciation of KitKat’s product name was the same as that of “will win” in Fukuoka dialect. Therefore, the parents and friends of local candidates would go to the supermarket to buy KitKat in large quantities as an amulet or lucky thing to give to the candidates. I wish the candidates good results.


Therefore, in 1999, the president of Nestle Kyushu Branch in Japan reported this situation and put forward a proposal to make billboards for candidates in Kyushu supermarkets. However, due to the careful consideration of protecting the registered trademark, the Department in charge of marketing at that time did not immediately pass the proposal.


Until around 2000, the marketing department of Nestle Japan found KitKat “have a break, have a kitkat.” There is a common ground between the slogan of “help consumers release pressure” and Kyushu’s unique consumer behavior. Therefore, since 2003, Nestle has really started to implement the candidate assistance activities. It supports candidates by giving them KitKat free of charge, cooperating with railway / taxi companies to send them to the examination room, and cooperating with post offices, shrines, etc., so as to eliminate tension and anxiety for candidates, and give them encouragement and blessings.


These measures have been widely praised by candidates, and KitKat has also become a synonym for the exam amulet. Since then, it has become a common practice to sell candidate assistance products and carry out candidate assistance activities every year, and the products have also changed in terms of packaging and taste.


For example, KitKat has sold Yiyu citrus flavor support products with the same pronunciation as “good omen”. Since September 2019, Nestle has changed the outer packaging of KitKat’s large bag products to paper packaging to deal with the pollution of marine plastic waste. With this change, Nestle, inspired by the traditional form of folding paper cranes to express their wishes, has sold the examinee aid products packaged with origami amulets. As long as the instructions on the packaging are followed, the paper packaging can be folded into a small amulet, loaded with chocolate and sent to the examinee to express their blessings to the examinee.


Paper package KitKat that can be folded into amulet, photo source: PR times


By the 2022 college entrance examination season, Nestle KitKat has been accompanying candidates for 20 years. It has not only become a must buy product loved by the majority of candidates, but also established KitKat’s brand positioning of “providing assistance for hard-working people”. Among the more than 100 countries / regions KitKat sells, Japan ranks first in terms of sales volume, and its successful cases of test marketing are also well known by the whole group.


Taking KitKat as the starting point, Geely homophonic test marketing has become a common practice in the food industry


Similarly, the parents of some domestic candidates will wear cheongsam to send their children to the examination room on the day of the college entrance examination, which means “a successful start”. Japanese candidates and parents will also use some items or food with auspicious pronunciation to make a good mouth. The success of KitKat in test marketing has caused other brands to follow suit. The marketing of auspicious homophonic stem test has also become a tried and true way for brands to increase sales in the short term, Many brands will sell some products with auspicious homonyms or printed with words such as “must win”, “qualified” and “qualified wish” during the college entrance examination season.


For example, the koala biscuits sold by Lotte wished the examinee never to fall off the list with the appearance that the koala would never fall off even if it fell asleep on the tree. Riqing simply and roughly printed the “qualified must win” and the Bodhidharma symbolizing auspiciousness on the outer package of instant noodles, and printed the cat pattern with the “lucky” sign on the back of the package, providing a little cure for the examinee in the gap between studies.


Nissin examinee’s instant noodles packaging, picture source: Amazon


This kind of auspicious homophonic stem is mostly used as a conventional commodity. It only changes specific packaging. It mainly provides a kind of psychological support. At the same time, it can also be used as an emotional communication channel between candidates and their parents, friends and teachers.


Meiji R-1 lactic acid bacteria yogurt:

Health management protects the status of candidates,

Become the common comrade in arms of the examinee’s parents and examinees


Candidates and parents who have experienced the college entrance examination know that candidates are not fighting alone. While fully supporting their children’s studies and giving them meticulous care, their parents are also facing various psychological pressures and problems. For parents of examinees, it is important to care about their children’s performance. How to provide them with a balanced and healthy diet, so that their children’s physical state does not fall off the line, and have a healthy body to support high-intensity learning is also their daily worry.


Therefore, when most brands pay attention to candidates, Meiji pays attention to the parents of candidates, and carries out candidate assistance marketing through Meiji R-1 lactic acid bacteria yogurt (Meiji R-1), which focuses on the concept of “daily health management”.


Capture the needs of candidates’ family consumption decision makers and put forward “health management is also a test preparation countermeasure”


Meiji R-1 lactic acid bacteria yogurt is a yogurt added with 1073r-1 lactic acid bacteria unique to Meiji. It aims to make contributions to consumers’ daily health. Since its launch in 2009, it has been loved by many consumers who care about daily health management.


In the case of candidates’ assistance, the product concept of “daily health management” of Meiji R-1 lactic acid bacteria yogurt coincides with the needs of candidates’ parents who worry about their children’s colds or physical discomfort and need to carry out health management for their children through daily diet. Therefore, the brand captures the needs of candidates’ family consumption decision makers, The slogan “more than half of the candidates’ mothers choose R-1 for health management” and “health management is also a strategy for preparing for the exam” are displayed in the store to promote the purchase.


Advertising words and pictures of the store source: ダイヤモンドチェストアオンライン


Capture the anxiety and worry of the examinee’s family, and provide communication channels and suggestions for the examinee’s parents


In addition to capturing the needs of the examinee’s parents in the health management of their children, Meiji also captured the troubles of the examinee’s parents in communicating with the examinee.


In the candidate assistance activities in 2021, Meiji learned from the collected candidate questionnaires that many candidates will feel pressure because of their parents’ questions about test scores and learning status, and even their enthusiasm for learning will be weakened. Inspired by this fact, Meiji tried to reduce the misunderstanding between parents and children, make the relationship between parents and candidates more harmonious, and enable candidates to meet the exam in a better physical and mental state.


Therefore, as part of the 2022 examinee assistance, Meiji launched an online advertisement in November 2021, calling for “language may become pressure, so it is better to send silent (non-verbal) assistance”, and set up an online community “troubled examinee parents’ meeting” specifically for the examinee’s parents, providing a place for the examinee’s parents to share their worries and anxieties, as well as valuable experience and knowledge.


In december2021, Meiji published the results of a questionnaire survey on the parents of 300 candidates who will take part in the high school / high school / university entrance examination and 100 candidates through newspaper advertisements and online communities, conveying the differences in ideas between the candidates’ families and their parents in communication. 71.3% of the candidates’ parents replied that “they will pay attention to the management of the candidates’ physical conditions”.


The online community communication and questionnaire survey results of the examinee’s parents showed the true thoughts of the examinee’s parents and provided a reference for the parents on the issue of “how to treat the examinee’s children”. Finally, they also put forward the slogan “health management is a silent help from parents”. The Meiji R-1 lactic acid bacteria yogurt that can be seen when you open the refrigerator every day is the silent protection and care of parents.


Pictures in Meiji online advertising source: PR times


Communicate the parents’ help to the candidates, and the final help at the examination site


From January 15, 2022, that is, the first day of the Japanese university entrance examination, Meiji put “candidate assistance advertisements” on the station nearest to the examination hall and the subway line to the examination hall.


Meiji took advantage of the genuine messages from the parents of candidates collected on Twitter as an advertisement. For example, you can see “have you forgotten something? Have you brought your admission ticket?” “Mother gives you all her strength!” “Remember to go to the bathroom before you enter the examination room!” “Fill it up!” “If you’re nervous, think about the jokes your mother told you!” “I’ve worked so hard, so there must be no problem. No one works harder than you. I’m confident, calm and focused.” wait


Meiji’s advertisement in the subway, picture source: advantimes


At the same time, in order to display more parental messages on the billboard as much as possible, Meiji has adopted special printing technology to make posters in the station. Different patterns can be seen when looking at the same advertising poster from different directions. Therefore, candidates can see different information when they go to the examination room and when they go home from the examination room.


For example, in the advertisement on the steps of the station near the examination room of Tokyo University, when I went to the examination room, I saw the message “relax!”, When I returned from the examination room, I saw “have a barbecue tonight!”, In an interview with the parents of the candidates, a mother mentioned what she wanted to say to her child after the exam.


“Have a barbecue tonight!”, Image source: advantimes


Meiji, in the form of this kind of advertisement, conveys to the examinees what is difficult for parents and children to say face to face. It is hoped that through the loving messages of parents, the examinees who go to the examination room can feel the support from their families, gain strength, give full play to their strength in the examination and achieve ideal results.


Otsuka pharmaceutical caloriemate:

Create resonance inspired by real experiences,

Evoke youth memories of all ages with the theme of college entrance examination


Born in april1983, Otsuka pharmaceutical caloriemate is a “balanced nutritional food” that allows people to easily and evenly supplement the five nutrients necessary for the human body. It is light and portable. It is convenient to eat at breakfast, before and after exercise, study and work, so as to support the diverse daily diet of modern people.


Caloriemate has three forms: Biscuit, jelly and beverage. Photo source: PR times


By november27,2021, the candidate assistance series advertisement of caloriemate has been released to the 8th play. The moving songs performed by popular singers and the real pictures of students’ time have become a unique scenery in the annual exam preparation season, which has been highly praised and expected by many people. In the comment area of the advertising video, you can see many netizens sharing their test preparation stories, or leave a message saying that “we are looking forward to the ads released by caloriemate in the test season every year”.


The reason why caloriemate’s candidate assistance series ads stand out and attract much attention is because of their strong resonance, which is also the reason why caloriemate chose the theme of “examination”.


Get inspiration from the real sound, and the resonance will cause more response than expected


The staff of Otsuka pharmaceutical’s advertising department once said that although they had hoped to launch the candidate assistance ads every year, it was unexpected that they could be launched for such a long time. After the advertisement of caloriemate was broadcast, a large number of Real Voices from junior and senior high school students from the outside world and social media were received, and the response was far greater than expected. This is also the reason why this series of advertisements can be produced until the eighth year.


The staff of Otsuka pharmaceutical advertising department also said that it is natural to check the content on social media every day. In the era of no social media, they have conducted interviews among middle school and high school students. The production inspiration of the slogan and video is also obtained from these real materials.


For example, in 2020, the slogan “a year of fighting with invisible things and being supported by invisible forces” was born from the group visits of educators in the front line. In the interview, a teacher mentioned that teachers and students are comrades in arms. Students and teachers who have experienced the COVID-19 together have fought together in mutual support for one year.


Image source: XD (クロスディー)


Otsuka pharmaceutical obtained inspiration from it and made the candidate aid advertisement of this year. Although this is a slogan for teachers and students, it also resonates in the hearts of all those who have experienced the sudden COVID-19. Some teachers said that in 2020, they had experienced something they had never experienced before. They saw the content from the perspective of teachers for the first time and felt that they had been saved.


The examination theme evokes the youth memories of the whole age group, and it is not only the candidate assistance series that resonates with the candidate group


As a brand and product that has been born for 40 years, caloriemate has always been a “balanced nutrition food”, and the target population of the product has always been all the people who cannot obtain balanced nutrition in their daily diet. In order to make the new generation of people not think that the caloriemate is an old thing and can generate a sense of freshness, the brand has always insisted on communicating with the new generation of consumers, so that consumers like the brand and recognize the brand through the current resonance, and believe that this love and recognition will naturally lead to the increase of sales in the end.


This is also the reason why caloriemate chose the exam theme for publicity. The staff of Otsuka pharmaceutical advertising department said that whether it is adults or teenagers, whether it is happy memories or some painful memories, “examination” is a common experience, so it is not only a student group, but also a theme that will resonate with the broader adult group. Short films and songs are created with the theme of young people such as examinees and community students, and the “examination” is the emotional resonance point to enter the young generation, which not only creates unforgettable memories for young people, but also has a unique creativity that affects a wider group, creating unexpected brand volume.




It has been loved by people since ancient times to use food to carry beautiful meanings and express blessings. Under the ingenious conception of modern food brands, a small snack can also give people encouragement and courage, and become a bridge between people. Today is the first day of the college entrance examination. Here, foodaily also wishes all candidates to play stably or even supernormal, and get an ideal score!


Do you have any special memories about the college entrance examination and food? Welcome to share with us in the comments area!


Cover image source: come on house

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