Nestle Japan Thinks Outside the Wrapper with Kit Kat Jars

You'd think that distributing a snack food through Japan's famed network of vending machines would be a no-brainer... and you'd be wrong. Japan does have a lot of vending machines, offering everything from snacks and drinks to more offbeat items like live lobsters, toilet paper, women's underwear and Scotch whiskey.

Oddly enough though, the single-serving snack machines so common in North America are uncommon in Japan. This fact was not lost on the marketing department at Nestle Japan, makers of the classic Kit Kat candy bar.

Kit Kat's are a real phenomenon in Japan, with new flavors and packaging styles coming out constantly. I've written about Japan's Kit Kat frenzy before, and the vigorous marketing of this old favorite is a real tribute to the creative minds at Nestle Japan... minds that found themselves stumped by a troublesome bottleneck in the distribution chain.

Maccha Milk (Green Tea) Kit KatMaccha Milk (Green Tea) Kit Kat

Nestle was having great success with their canned and bottled drinks sold out of the over 2.7 million drinks vending machines scattered across Japan, so they were well aware that vending machines were a valuable component in their drinks marketing plan.

The answer was stunning in its simplicity - instead of creating a new network of dedicated candy bar vending machines, change the product to utilize the current 2.7 million machines already out on the streets of Japan!


And that's exactly what they did. The "Kit Kat Jar" is designed to be sold from beverage vending machines. Inside the soda-can sized & shaped jar are 4 individually wrapped Kit Kat bars. Not a bad deal for just 200 yen (about $1.70).

Pumpkin Kit Kat... scary good!Pumpkin Kit Kat... scary good!
(photo courtesy of Cybele at Candy Blog)

Although the Kit Kat Jar only comes in the standard flavor for now, it's likely we'll see it being used to sell other flavors soon enough. What's more, thirsty snackers will be pleased to find a refreshing Nestle beverage within arm's reach - a fact that will doubtless please Nestle as well! (via Japan Marketing News)

Steve Levenstein
Japanese Innovations Writer

Oct 17, 2007
by Anonymous (not verified)

Kit Kat

When do you think vending machines in Australia will be filled with this type of Kit-kat ?

Oct 17, 2007
by Steve Levenstein
Steve Levenstein's picture


Depends... are snack machines common in Oz? If they are, it's doubtful Nestle would bring in Kit Kat Jars to fit into the drink machines. I'm sure some smart cookie will be selling the Jars from a website soon, though...

Oct 17, 2007
by Anonymous (not verified)

Best candy bar ever.

Best candy bar ever.

Oct 20, 2007
by Anonymous (not verified)

Gimme a break

Gimme a break. Break me off a piece from that Kit Kat jar.

Feb 20, 2008
by Lilian (not verified)

Kit kat

Hi, I was wondering if any of you can tell me where i can purchase all these different kinds of flavors of kit kat.

Please email me, thank you

Feb 23, 2008
by Steve Levenstein
Steve Levenstein's picture

where to find JP KitKats in USA & CA

Would love to email you, Lillian, but you didn't leave an addy. In any case, if you're not in Japan, the best places to find Japanese KitKat bars in North America are Chinese and Japanese supermarkets. Multicultural larger cities like Toronto also have Chinese malls & plazas that have candy stores which often carry them too. Just last week, i bought some of the Blood Orange KitKats from such a store - they were incredibly delicious! I oughta set up a mail-order KitKat biz... hmmm...