Unveiling the Power of Mystery in Marketing: Four Captivating Case Studies from Japan and Hong Kong

Marketing strategies vary and evolve. The primary goal of marketing is to develop client trust in a brand and persuade them that the product or service is worthwhile. In marketing, however, there is no such thing as an absolute technique. The most crucial part is to understand the target audience's psychology to develop compelling and fascinating marketing techniques. But have you ever considered that strategically withholding crucial information might grab the audience's attention? We will then present four case studies from Japan and Hong Kong.

    Case study 1: Burger King Japan

    Burger King has always been adept at employing innovation to increase brand awareness. In 2020, they produced an online poster displaying a mosaic-covered burger for only JPY 290, comparable to HKD 20 at the time. The price was reasonable, and the poster's motto stated, "Guaranteed to get addicted after eating." This grabbed people's interest. Internet users speculated on the filler, saying that given the price, it could be scrambled eggs. Burger King issued five photographs before the product's introduction, all featuring burgers largely built with French fries. They even challenged online users to determine which was the "Fake Burger." Most people felt it was a joke at the time. Customers noticed that the contents covered by the mosaic were actually French fries, combined with beef sauce or egg yolk sauce when the "Fake Burger" was officially released. Customers may also obtain additional fries by upgrading to a combination meal. This astonished Japanese internet users! Many consumers who bought the combination meal instantly shared images and their thoughts on the "Fake Burger" on Twitter. Simply obscuring the image with mosaic brought Burger King a lot of free publicity, and the majority of the reviews remained positive, stating that the "Fake Burger" would make a great breakfast and even expressing a desire for the fries to be secretly added to other burgers after the "Fake Burger" was discontinued.

    Case study 2: Famous Manga "One Piece"

    The popular manga series "One Piece" posted eight promotional photos on its official website on July 27, 2015. The photos showed eight character silhouettes, as well as the statement "Reassembling on August 3rd" and a countdown timer. However, there was no clear explanation of what will be published, leaving followers to speculate. The brand-new DVD series "ONE PIECE Log Collection" was formally introduced on August 3rd, when the countdown meter struck zero. In Japan, large promotional posters were placed in congested places such as Shinjuku, Shibuya, and Ikebukuro. Long-time followers were ecstatic, enthusiastically sharing the news and finally getting an answer to their question.

    Case study 3: "Library X" - Selling 90,000 Copies in 3 Months

    Takashi Nagae, 33, works as a retail clerk in an ordinary bookstore named "Sawaya Shoten" in Japan. With ten years of sales expertise, he was aware that non-fiction books sold on average. In 2016, he developed a concept named "Library X" to boost the sales of this genre. Takashi created a book cover on his own with his recommendation printed on it, firmly covering the actual book jacket. As a result, consumers would just see his advice without knowing the title of the book. His recommendations had the following content:
    "I'm sorry, but I have no idea how to recommend this book." I'm at a loss as to how to make this book 'interesting' or 'captivating.' That's why I decided to conceal the title while still displaying it on the shelves. However, I am confident that after reading this book, you will be profoundly influenced and moved. It's nearly 500 pages lengthy and not a book, therefore it may be difficult for readers who are only used to buying novels. However, I sincerely hope that each of you will read this book. I've read over 3,000 books, and this is one I genuinely hope more people read."
    Given that "Library X" was priced at JPY 810, which was quite costly compared to other books in the same genre, Takashi initially thought that selling 30 copies would be regarded as satisfactory. To his delight, "Library X" had already sold 60 copies in just 5 days of its debut. It sold 980 copies within one month. Given the significant discussion and demand among readers, the book was stocked in over 300 bookshops around Japan. It sold over 90,000 copies in just three months! In addition, even three months after the book's release, readers avoided exposing the title or substance while discussing it—a sign of mutual understanding and respect among book supporters. Sawaya Shoten continued to participate in the ongoing online discussions and declared on Twitter that the true book title will be announced on December 9 and that they were interested in inviting the author to share this sales legend with them.

    Case study 4: Tyson Yoshi Green Profile Picture Event

    Those who follow the Hong Kong music industry may have noticed that a lot of artists, including Tyson Yoshi, Hins Cheung, Serrini, Kong To, and Alfred Hui, abruptly changed their Instagram profile images to green on June 10th of this year. However, none of the artists responded at this point, leading netizens to wonder. This resulted in a trend, with many supporters changing their Instagram profile images to green in solidarity, regardless of the true cause. Hong Kong netizens are known for their inventiveness, and some speculated that the green profile images were meant to honor Thailand's legalization of marijuana. A more reasonable hypothesis was that a large-scale partnership initiative was going to be shared. Tyson Yoshi eventually stated the next day that the green profile images were tied to his upcoming show, and other singers changed their profile pictures to green in solidarity.

    These four cases revolve around the concept of mystery, withholding essential facts and arousing public curiosity, leaving the opportunity for creativity. It is relatively easy to distribute news by word of mouth, especially in today's advanced information technology era. However, it also makes public relations catastrophes more frequent and more difficult to control, which is why understanding when to stop is critical. I'd also want to highlight Chozoshodo, a little-known bookshop in Japan that effectively established a bestselling legend via the enthusiasm of its workers and their knowledge of readers. It is a good example to think about.
    There is no generic marketing strategy, and even if others have successfully implemented promotional activities, it may not be suitable for oneself. The most essential thing is to determine the brand's direction and target audience, understand their wants and preferences, and then investigate how to captivate the public in an innovative approach to boost attention. It is critical not to panic or lose sight of the goal simply because the intended outcomes are not obtained within the timeframe specified. Marketing and promotion are long-term and constantly evolving operations. Psychology is used in product marketing.
    Through inventiveness, one may gain great attention at a minimal cost by thoroughly analyzing the attitude of the target audience!