Consumers are looking for new ways to add a personal touch when it comes to gifts for birthdays, weddings or other special occasions.
Over and above simply choosing the way gifts are wrapped or picking the color of ribbons, people can now include an original photo or message on gift packages of such products as cosmetics, cookies and beer.
Shiseido Co., Japan’s top cosmetics maker, in July launched a new service enabling customers to design a portrait to put on a gift box.
By visiting the Shiseido website via a smartphone or computer, consumers can create a portrait by combining facial parts like hairstyle, eyes and mouth, drawn by popular illustrator Akira Uno.
Customers can then add virtual cosmetics of the company’s Majolica Majorca brand.
The portrait can be downloaded for free, and those who purchase a product of that brand can obtain a card with the portrait on it to place on the lid of a gift box from Shiseido’s online shop, Watashi Plus.
“With a little extra effort, a special gift can be created,” a Shiseido official said, adding that the target customers are women in their teens to their 30s.
The number of website views exceeded 10.4 million in 10 days from July 14 when the service debuted, and the limited-time service will continue until the end of this year, the official said.
Ezaki Glico Co., a major Japanese snack maker, has offered since March 2013 a service in which customers can create a personalized package for its mainstay Bisco cream sand biscuit.
Under the “Smile Bisco” service, customers can send a profile photo of themselves or someone else to the company’s website.
The face will appear at the center of the Bisco package where the “Bisco Boy” illustration usually appears. Below the picture the name of the person in the photograph will be shown, and a simple message such as “I am always grateful to you” can be added.
Ezaki Glico said a number of customers have ordered the gift packages repeatedly, and more than 2 million packages were sold over the year through March.
The gift box, containing 20 mini packages, is priced at ¥2,530.
“We hope that newlyweds, for example, present the biscuits to reception guests or people hand it to others as a greeting,” an Ezaki Glico official said.
Sapporo Breweries Ltd., too, has offered a similar service on a special website since October 2012, enabling customers to create original beer bottle labels.
Customers first decide the bottle color — green, blue or brown — and beer type — pilsner, weizen or dunkel.
Roughly 120 designs are available for various occasions such as births, marriages or New Year celebrations, and customers can add their favorite photo or text to the label.
Ordering a set of six bottles costs ¥3,240, with each bottle containing 333 milliliters.
Sales through the service have been robust. In the seven months through July, they grew 2.3 fold from the same period last year, a Sapporo Breweries official said.
“Customers may have an image that beers are made in bulk, but we make efforts to offer services valuing each customer,” the official said.