Blog: Propaganda power

Catherine Sleep | 9 July 2004

It’s always fascinating to find out what makes people buy various products in different countries. Price, convenience, health, taste: all these are crucial factors. But advertising, personal recommendation, celebrity endorsement, tie-ins and word of mouth can also play a huge part.

It’s an art rather than a science. Here in the UK a lady called Delia Smith, one of the earlier breed of celebrity chefs, has had huge influence on products’ success or failure. In fact she single-handedly brought about The Great Cranberry Crisis of 1995 when her fans cleared supermarket shelves of the fruit, and a previously small-time saucepan manufacturer saw its turnover soar with a mention of its omelette pan. Companies have been saved by a single recommendation from Delia.

In Japan things are somewhat different. The top propagandist is a daytime TV show with incredible sway over purchasing decisions, notably in the health food market. Among the unlikely hit products are cocoa, red wine, amino acids, almonds and even smoked hams. We asked our Japan correspondent Michael Fitzpatrick to investigate the phenomenon, which members can read about in the Feature of the Week, hyperlinked below.

Media power dictates food trends in Japan


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