Did you know that only 1 to 2 percent of Japanese nationals are Christians? Japan is a predominantly Shinto and Buddhist nation. Therefore, Christmas is not a traditional holiday for most Japanese. In fact, the day is considered a romantic holiday, the equivalent of Valentine's Day. Curiously, it is a time to enjoy a uniquely Japanese experience.

To most, and globally, this holiday is barely a time to relax. Immense shopping during the festivities leaves you with fatigue and hangover. Most wake up to prepare food for families at the break of dawn.

It is a holiday, yet people work harder to enjoy the day than other days. However, imagine waking up on Xmas morning to a bucket-full of crusty, crispy chicken. This is what gave Takeshi Okawara, the first manager of KFC in Japan, the motivation to inspire Japan's KFC Christmas.

Okawara, a graduate from Harvard, envisioned a barrel of chicken that could fit every festivity. However, what he created is a deep-seated tradition for most Japanese nationals.

Every Xmas, KFC outlets in Japan sell up to 10 times their average sales volume. This is because, virtually, every family in Japan makes an order for a party barrel. It is a special KFC package, which comprises of chicken, wine, and cake. This upsurge in sales accounts for one-third of annual sales volumes.

In addition to being a tradition, Japan's KFC Christmas is also a perfect case for brand positioning. There are lessons in marketing to be derived from this tradition. Some of the lessons are;

  • It is important to understand the social-cultural background of your customers.
  • Make your product about filling a gap in the market.
  • Make your product a perceived need. Most People in Japan did not know what to do on Christmas day until KFC came along.

This article would not be complete if Colonel Harland David Sanders was not mentioned. Best known as the founder of KFC brands, evolved into the official mascot and official symbol for the brand. His face is still used on the logo of the KFC brand. Okawara dressed the mascot in Santa Claus' attire. This mascot is seen as the official symbol for Xmas, and it is placed at every KFC storefront during the holiday.

Japan's KFC tradition, not only brings families together but also fills a void for the many who do not have a traditional religious backing to celebrate Christmas. That is why many Japanese nationals throng KFC outlets weeks before the D-day to ensure they get a barrel of chicken.