KitKat Japan has launched an average of 20 to 30 new KitKat flavours each year, with some years exceeding to hit 40 to 50 new flavours and other years lesser than 10 new flavours, FoodNavigator-Asia understands from Takuya Hiramatsu, spokesman for Nestlé Japan.
Currently, 40 KitKat flavours are still available for sale in Japan – the “KitKat hub”.
Although KitKat was first invented in England in 1935, the brand’s subsequent image and innovation largely came from Japan since it entered the country in 1973.
The love of new products amongst Japanese consumers and expectations from foreign customers were the driving force behind flavour innovation in Japan, Hiramatsu explained.
“We have developed many unique flavors in order to meet the expectation of the Japanese customer who loves “new” products as compared to consumers from the other markets,” he said.
“Also, foreign customers who visit Japan are always looking forward to find new ‘Made-In-Japan KitKat.’”
“The combination of tastes and package designs which are "unique to Japan" has a great appeal for foreign visitors.”
The brand first rose to prominence in Japan due to its slogan “I know my wish will come true”, which made it a popular gift for expressing support and gratitude, Nestlé Japan said in a press release.
KitKat Japan is celebrating its 45th anniversary this year. KitKat is also available in over 100 countries globally.
In terms of overall sales, the original and matcha flavours have accumulated the biggest sales revenue in Japan.
Whereas for local Japanese innovation, the sake, wasabi, and Tokyo Banana are popular amongst local consumers too.
Last year, Nestlé Japan opened a second KitKat factory in Himeji to produce "upscale” and “pricier” KitKat, Bloomberg reported.
To celebrate its 45th anniversary in Japan, KitKat has launched the limited edition assortment which consists of 35 different KitKat flavours.
This limited edition contains the most number of assortment, which can be categorised into three groups, including 1) mainstay products, which consist of the original and sweet flavours, 2) local souvenir products, which refer to local Japanese flavours, such as purple sweet potato and Shinshu apple, and 3) specialty shop products, which are mostly unconventional flavours such as yuzu and passion-fruit.
Priced at JYP$6,264 (approx. USD$55), the limited edition assortment was available since Nov 19 at KitKat Chocolatory stores, online, and KitKat gift shop.
When selecting the flavours for the special edition, the firm said it had collected new flavour suggestions from consumers around the world. A worldwide election was held and the most popular suggestion was materialised.
The election attracted about 500,000 voters from 81 countries, and the strawberry tiramisu flavour had won the highest support.