With White Day little over a week away, thousands of men in Japan are currently feeling the heat. Having received gifts from their loved ones on Valentine’s Day, it’s now time to return the favour by buying their sweetheart something that simultaneously says “thank you” while acting as a token of their affections.
But when most men think of the words “great gift”, they often envisage things like video games or iPad-controlled helicopters, and the chances of such items going down well with their wives or girlfriends are slim to none.
Thankfully, help is at hand! Available at Tokyo’s Tokyu Hands department store, the White Day Concierge service is designed to help male shoppers on the hunt for a romantic gift find something that their other half may actually like, rather than just a female Tenga toy with a ribbon tied around it and the promise of a shoulder rub.
Operated by Takashima Bookstores, the special service uses uses marketing information and customer profiling to help point men in the right direction. But could this really be a useful addition to the shopping experience, or are we gullible men simply being milked for our cash in the name of love? A reporter from Japan’s Gold Rush website headed down to the store to check it out.
Rather than simply asking men to describe their other half and what she’s into, the (very cute, according to Gold Rush’s reporter) concierge asks customers to match their wife or girlfriend’s age, character and fashion style to one of the predetermined profiles on a chart. Is she in her 20s, 30s or older? Does she go for a casual, cute or sophisticated look? How important is it that you make up for all your wrongs this year? (Just kidding.) After conveying all the relevant information to the concierge, you’ll be given a number of suggestions for products that your partner may – according to the market research – be interested in.
▼A bag, perhaps? A nice fragrance set?
According to the concierge of the day, Ms. Mizutani, White Day gifts have become a much more difficult purchase for men in recent years. In the past, it was custom for men to give simpler presents like marshmallows, white chocolate or white chocolate cookies (hence the name), but it has become fashionable to give a small, non-edible gift. With so much to choose from it’s often hard to pinpoint something appropriate or, when opting for some kind of fashion accessory, to find something that matches her personal tastes. It was for this reason that the Takashima group began the service in a small number of stores back in 2010 and is making an extra push this year to let men know that they don’t necessarily have to wander around for hours wondering if they’re making the right decisions.
Thankfully, this concierge isn’t simply trying to entice men to spend as much as possible at the store. Mizutani suggests that, particularly when buying a return gift for coworkers, it is better not to overspend:
“Sending expensive gifts to female coworkers may have the reverse effect of making the situation difficult or awkward. It’s best to spend around 1000-1,500 yen (US$10-15). A girl can never have enough small bags or pouches.”
▼Cookware? And she’ll like this, you say?
At first glance, some of the items being displayed as possible gift ideas may seem a little uninspired or even dull, but with the custom of “giri choko” (giving chocolate out of obligation or regardless of any real sentiment) still in existence in Japan, many men find themselves having to find something appropriate to give in return the following month. Although chocolates or cookies are usually a welcome return gift, there’s no denying that going the extra mile to find something a little more original will be a nice surprise for the recipient, regardless of their level of attachment to the gift giver. And of course, if it’s someone special you’re buying for, with the concierge’s help you might just make their day. And if it all backfires, at least you’ll have someone else to blame, right?
So if you’re in Tokyo and looking for something special for your wife or girlfriend for White Day, why not head in to Tokyu Hands and take advantage of the service? The White Day concierge will be available to help out from now until March 14 and from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. this weekend. The clock is ticking, gentlemen.
Source: Gold Rush (Japanese)