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A Little Something Extra

Posted by Mariko Fujinaka in marketing publishing trends on December 8, 2009


I’ve always been a sucker for the whole “gift with purchase” thing. Offer me something for free, and I will most likely purchase something I don’t need or even want just so I can score the free item. I am a marketer’s dream. But really, who doesn’t like to get something for free or for a good deal?

Japanese marketers caught on to incentive marketing long, long ago. I remember visiting Japan during Japan’s prosperous years, and it seemed like every time I bought something, no matter how inexpensive the item, I would get a little gift (”omake”) or a raffle type of ticket that could be reimbursed for a “prize” of some sort. Nowadays Japanese companies aren’t as willing to dole out freebies, but the phenomenon certainly is not extinct. I recently visited Japan, and I received plenty of goodies, including gift socks at one hotel chain for making online reservations.

The concept of omake is still prominent in Japanese publishing. Publishers sometimes run campaigns to promote best sellers. My mother, for instance, once received a wizard’s cap and tote bag for purchasing one of the Japanese-language Harry Potter books. Magazine publishers have taken incentive marketing a step further by sometimes including brand-name extras with issues. For example, fashion magazine Sweet has enjoyed phenomenal growth in readership since offering popular, designer omake, such as Anna Sui wallets and Charlotte Ronson makeup cases. According to website Japan Trends, circulation for the magazine has grown to some 700,000, and many may be purchasing the magazines solely for the gift.

So do you suppose book sales in the United States would increase if publishers included a little omake with the books? This would certainly provide an advantage over digital books; after all, with a digital download of an e-book, all you get is the book. The horror!


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