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A Japanese Kit Kart on a sensu fan.
A Japanese Kit Kart on a sensu fan.

Japanese Kit Kat: A Sweet Symphony of Unique Flavors!

Thuy FangThuy Fang
Published Time
Posted on July 06, 2023
Modified Time
Updated last August 10, 2023

Although Nestle UK initially created Kit Kat, it has gained significant success in the Japanese market since its introduction. So why has it thrived and become so popular in Japanese confectionery? Let’s explore the three main reasons below.

What does “kit kat” mean in Japan?

Coincidentally, the name Kit Kat sounds similar to “Kitto Katsu” in Japanese, which means “You will succeed.” As a result, Kit Kat bars have become a popular small gift in Japan. They often substitute for the good luck wishes!

Kit Kat is popular among students during exam season or school sports events. During these times, people commonly exchange Kit Kat bars. They do so to wish for success in challenging exams like university entrances or to boost team spirit in competitions.

Japanese candy at the convenience store.
You can find them at any convenience store! Image via Shutterstock

Furthermore, Kit Kat teamed up with Japan Post to initiate an expansive Kit Kat package campaign encompassing the entire nation. This creative initiative allowed people to send their loved ones “good luck” presents through the postal service.

Overall, these gifts are exciting and one-of-a-kind. They gained immense popularity with the support of over twenty thousand post offices across Japan. They became such a big hit as they sold out just one month after the campaign’s introduction.

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The Diverse Flavors of Kit Kat in The Japanese Market

Kit Kat offers nearly 400 different flavors, showcasing Japan’s remarkable ingenuity. You can find flavors like apple, lemon, raspberry, sour plum, rum raisin, pistachio, and even wasabi.

Unique flavors in Japan include strawberry, sake (Japanese rice wine), and matcha (Japanese green tea). Matcha Kit Kat shows a delicate balance of sweetness and bitterness, with a distinct green tea flavor in every bite.
The Strawberry Kit Kat has a natural fruity sweetness loved by many Japanese. Meanwhile, the Sake Kit Kat, made with actual sake, has gained loyal followers for its unique taste.

Japanese strawberry Kit Kar.
Strawberry Kit Kats are very trendy! Image via Shutterstock

Some flavors like kinako (soybean), azuki (red bean), and shoyu (Japanese soy sauce) may not appeal to international tastes. However, they hold a unique charm in the Japanese market.

In Japan, new seasonal flavors are only available briefly, providing a delightful surprise for Kit Kat fans. Almost annually in Japan, the spring has sakura (cherry blossom) flavor, while pumpkin Kit Kat is available during Autumn.

In addition to the popular flavors, there are region-specific Kit Kat varieties distinct to certain parts of Japan. In Okinawa, there’s a purple sweet potato flavor. Hokkaido offers black soybean and Hokkaido melon flavors. These regional varieties are highly sought after, with fans traveling between regions to taste them. They’re so eager to explore and experience the exclusive flavors that each region has to offer.

A singular salt lemon Kit Kat with a lemon slice on a plate.
Kobe Salt Lemon is one of the more unique flavors. Image via Shutterstock

Why is it so popular in Japan?

Another reason Kit Kat is extremely popular in Japan is its presence in all supermarkets, shopping centers, and konbini (convenience stores) throughout the country. The famous Pronto launched a delightful twist to their menu by using Kit Kat in their delicious croissants. The fusion of flavors captivates Japanese customers. It combines buttery croissants with Kit Kat’s perfect crunch.

The standard pizza chain “Napoli no Kama” embraced creativity. They released dessert pizzas with Kit Kat toppings. It provides a surprising and delicious treat for pizza lovers in Japan.

Sakura Japanese Kit Kat
Cherry blossom-flavored candy is trendy in the spring! Image via Shutterstock

Additionally, in Japan, Kit Kat launched various advertising campaigns. One of them was “Lucky Charm.” It became a huge success and won the prestigious Asian Brand Marketing Effectiveness Award in 2005.

Overall, the Japanese Kit Kat’s popularity is due to various factors that have made it a phenomenon. Thanks to its meaningful name and diverse range of flavors and collaborations, Kit Kat has become a cherished brand in Japan. This has made it a popular choice for gifts on various occasions. How many Kit Kat flavors have you tried? Feel free to let us know in the comment below!

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